The neighborhood restaurant Lilla Ego is on every foodie’s lips in Stockholm it seems. I’ve been recommended this place by virtually everyone I’ve asked about restaurant tips in the Swedish capital. As far as I understand Lilla Ego is usually fully booked several months ahead – at least the weekend spots. The queue for the drop-in seats starts early on outside the restaurant most evenings. You might have guessed this is one of the most hyped places in town. We finally managed to get a table on our recent Stockholm tour.
The menus at Lilla Ego are written by hand, with marker pens on big flipboard sheets taped to the wall. You’ll never be in doubt that you’re in a casual joint when you visit Daniel Räms and Tom Sjöstedt’s neighborhood restaurant in Vasastan. “Do you want a better glass of skumpa (slang for Champagne) or a decent glass of fulbubbel (slang for anything but Champagne)?” is the first question you are met with. The pickles shots were for later we were reassured. My foodie friend André Blomberg-Nygård would probably point out that the misspelled word on the menu is not a coincidence, but a clear sign of tattooed hipster chefs in the kitchen.
Lilla Ego has been described as the Stockholm equivalent to Pjoltergeist in Oslo, but I don’t agree much on this point. Sure, both places got popular bar seats, waiters with a personality and apparently a strained relationship to traditional menus. However, where Pjoltergeist feels like a dungeon you crawl into through a hole in the wall, Lilla Ego is more open-spaced with huge windows that let daylight in. The biggest difference, however, is the food. Lilla Ego appeared to me as doing a modern twist on traditional Swedish ingredients. We got råraka, löjrom, and brottarkorv this particular evening. Quite far from the Icelandic Asian fusion at Pjoltergeist.
After all, the salty, fatty, and umami-rich dishes were consumed the pickles shots arrived. A perfect acidic cleanse and surprisingly tasty in my opinion. Simply pickle water and a cheap McAfee’s Benchmark old no. 8 bourbon. Drink one and quickly and follow with the other. Well, I’ll be damned, this did remind me of the classic kimchi juice and Maker’s Mark combo at Pjoltergeist… Similarities and differences aside, in either case, I can understand why the citizens of Stockholm love this joint. It’s so liberating with the relaxed atmosphere and down-to-earth approach to serving food. Did it live up to the hype? It never stood a chance, but I would probably return as often as I could if I lived here.
What’s your favorite neighborhood restaurant? Please share it in a comment below.