I absolutely adore Mistral and chef Fredrik Andersson! Beyond Swedish locavore-driven cuisine, I wasn’t sure what to expect, and the experience was filled with happy surprises from beginning to end. In fact, just finding Mistral was an adventure, because it’s a bit off the beaten path, located outside of Stockholm’s city center. And finding our seats was also a unique experience, as Mistral’s seating configuration changes daily, depending on the number of guests, to minimize any extraneous tables. The adventure continued as I chose the five-course menu — among choices of one-, five-, or seven-courses — without knowing specifically what those dishes were going to be. What a thrill!
The opening act was a plate of sweet and refreshing local grape slices, pine oil marinated beans, dehydrated yogurt chips and homegrown herbs — a piece of artwork that I almost didn’t want to destroy. These incredibly fresh flavors made me feel closer to nature.
One of my favorite dishes was the roasted cabbage with seaweed butter and blueberries. Though there was no actual seafood in the dish, it did evoke the sea, both in its visual composition, with seaweed-like curled zucchini slices and wave-like roasted cabbage, and with the aromatic taste of ground seaweed and salt.
The entrée was “raw and cooked venison with everything red”: small pieces of raw venison wrapped around cooked venison, topped with other red things — tomato, beets and lingonberries (and, although it’s not red, fresh milk skin). Even though there was meat in this dish, the vegetables were not mere sidekicks, playing brilliant roles with dynamic flavors that complemented the venison. The milk skin, skimmed off the top of freshly produced milk, added a creamy balance — subtle but essential, and memorable.
Chef Andersson and his team took turns presenting the dishes and explaining them to us — a friendly communal gesture. I enjoyed getting to speak directly with Andersson, who seemed unpretentious and genuinely interested in the opportunity to connect with his guests. His style of pure and distinctive cuisine is achieved through working with local cultivators, small-scale farmers, biodynamic winemakers and pioneering artisans, in addition to his own impulsive and reflective expressions.
The rhubarb ice cream with pine oil and whipped pine milk dessert evoked the fresh essence of pine needles in the woods. That dish, like everything at Mistral, was so refreshing, conceptual and innovative. I find Chef Andersson’s cuisine remarkably daring. But, what’s particularly interesting to me is the comfort and connection I felt to the food, despite its innovative style. Though I traveled thousands of miles to taste this food, I felt very close to what I was eating and rejuvenated at the end of the meal. Andersson’s presentation and use of fresh organic ingredients makes them seem simultaneously new and familiar. From beginning to end, eating at Mistral is not just a meal — it’s truly an adventure.