Review Score: 97 / 100.
Fäviken is a Nordic restaurant unlike any other. This restaurant and B&B is located in Järpen, which is a remote but stunningly beautiful part of Sweden close to the Norwegian border. Magnus Nilsson is a young chef who has garnered international fame after being featured as one of the World’s 50 best restaurants, and subsequently featured on the Netflix series, Chef’s Table. His story is certainly legendary, after going to cooking school and eventually working at Pascal Barbot’s then one Michelin starred restaurant, L’Astrance (It now has Three Michelin stars). By some twist of fate, he managed to find his way back home, helming the kitchen at Fäviken Magasinet. And the rest, I suppose, is history.
I must admit, I was enamored by the story of Fäviken and Magnus Nilsson. There is certainly an aura about him, exuding intelligence and vision in what he hopes to achieve. Obviously, I had to make my way here.
After heading to Stockholm, a short domestic flight to Åre Östersund Airport, and then driving across the brilliant Nordic landscape, I finally arrived at the barnhouse, which was converted into a restaurant and a lovely Bed & Breakfast. The restaurant is certainly reminiscent of an old hunting lodge, and gotta say the lighting was perfect for photos! After settling down and having a quick sauna with some locally made sausages and white wine, we made our way to the Gateleg table, which is a communal table with 3 other couples, and began our meal.
We started off with some locally made ham and pickled carrots. Ham was salty, delicious and paired well with the tart and acidic carrots, which still maintained its crunch.
Next, was another small bite of Linseed and vinegar crisps with Mussel dip. The linseed is essentially Flaxseed, which had the perfect crunch and had a subtle hint of vinegar. The dip was smooth and salty, and certainly tasted of mussels.
The following snack was a whole grain wheat cracker with carrot salad. The carrot was also pickled and had a nice sweet and acidic flavor, whilst the cracker added texture to it. Another very pleasant bite.
This particular dish was inspired by Japan, and the chef had attempted to make their version of Dashi using smoked and dried reindeer and decomposing leaves (seriously). The result was certainly a lovely and smokey, Umami laden concoction, which paired well with the silken curd that is Tofu-like in texture.
Next, was wild flowers served in a crust of dried pig’s blood. Very odd combination but it somehow works, with the wild flowers providing a floral element to the unctuous, crunchy pig’s blood.
The subsequent bite was Pig’s head dipped in sour dough and deep-fried with gooseberry and tarragon salt. Enjoyed the rich pig’s head with the crispy exterior of the deep fried sourdough.
This was followed by Bird’s liver custard with malted cabbage, currents and parsley stems (not pictured). But I reckon the star was the next dish, which a simple but decadent slices of cured pork, which was almost translucent and just dissolved on the tongue.
This is undoubtedly one of the signature dishes, and probably one of the simplest, perfect dishes that one could imagine. Massive, immaculate scallops are sent from the coast of Norway, and slowly cooked over burning Juniper branches. The scallop was perfectly cooked, and juice was intense and oozed of perfect, scallop flavour. I just didn’t want this moment to end!
Another dish that has become synonymous with Fäviken, is the king crab with almost burnt cream. The king crab flesh was sweet and meaty, and paired with the cream which had that caramel tinge to it. Quite an interesting combination with the sweetness from the crab, paired against the caramelized cream. Another very delicious dish.
Next, is a lamb’s tongue cooked according to the techniques by an ancient Swedish lady, Cajsa Warg. This is then served with brined vegetables, and also the brine liquid. The lamb was immensely tender, and the vegetables was light, and a hint of saltiness from the brine. A very impressive dish as I never had lamb’s tongue before, which was excellent. Also, you could taste every single element of the dish distinctly and with clarity.
We then moved on to a dish of Mackerel cooked under a basket of coals and spruce needles with pickled Jerusalem artichokes. The Mackerel was crispy and had some smokiness to it, whilst the flesh was well cooked and maintained its moisture.
The next progression of the meal reverted back to small bites. The first of which is sourdough pancake, seaweed and beef butter. Nice texture on the pancakes, and a nice salty hit of the butter and umami from the seaweed.
The subsequent course was a curd made from Lupin, which is quite a common wildflower that some folks might have heard of, but I could never have imagined that it made into a curd! It was redolent of tofu and I believe the chef had slightly caramelized the top, which had a creme brulee feel to it. The flowers and greens added a floral and bitter element to the dish. Quite a curious little dish, which was probably more intriguing than delicious.
Another signature dish, which I recall Magnus had picked up while travelling in Iceland, where the locals would preserved eggs in some leftover..ermm..droppings, for lack of a more subtle term. This particular rendition, fortunately, was made with eggs coated in ash, which results in an effect slightly similar to preparing a Century egg in Chinese cuisine. The eggs were perfectly cooked and had a nice spring-y bite to it. This was served with a sauce made from dried trout and pickled marigold, which added a nice creamy, saltiness to the egg.
Next, was steamed Swiss chard with very good cream and Finnish fish eggs. The Swiss chard sort of reminded me of Bokchoy, a very large and well cooked Bokchoy I suppose. This was nicely paired with the cream and salty fish eggs. Once again, simple and very clean flavours.
For the final main course, was a grilled veal with jus and Lingonberries. The veal was nicely cooked, but the jus and berries had an odd bitter aftertaste, which I didn’t enjoy. Probably the most disappointing dish of the entire meal.
From there, the meal had a gradual transition into the sweet courses, which generally played with more with traditionally savory elements. This kicked off with a set broth, leaves and toasted oats, which was a nice bite of food with a play on textures.
This was followed by Colostrum with medosweet, which looked like an egg of sorts. It was a lovely bite with a hint of sweetness, and definitely tasted the colostrum, which had a very intense, funky milky flavour to it.
The next bite was raw jerusalem artichokes dark roasted cereals. The Jerusalem artichokes had a juicy, slightly sweet taste, while the cereals provided a crunchy texture.
After that was a dish dubbed the Potato dream, which is a take on a local Swedish cookie albeit made with potatoes. It was quite the perfect bite, and was surprised by its inherent sweetness and pleasantly chewy texture. Could never imagine that the entire dish was made from potatoes!
Another bizarre, and ultimately delicious dish was Brown cheese and Gompa. I must admit, my first encounter with Nordic brown cheese was not very pleasant. This, on the other hand, was sweet and slightly savoury, with some tart crust-like bits in the bottom which added a nice texture to balance out against the creamy cheese. Such a fascinating dish, although I suppose in retrospect it’s quite common to use cheese to make tarts, and obviously cakes. This is a very good example of it.
Another unconventional dessert is Bone marrow pudding with frozen milk. Loved the contrast of temperatures with the warm, savoury bone marrow against the cold, sweet milk.
By this point, I was mildly sloshed with alcohol. But I do remember enjoying nibbling on these sweet, pickled semi-dried root vegetables. Kinda like dried fruit, but better. And I do suppose vegetables are healthier.
The meal finally came to an end with the final bite of meat and birch pie, which was also another sweet and savoury tart, the latter which come from some form of cured meat. Once again, oddly delicious.
And a wooden box of very bizarre and unconventional sweets. It was just fun to try them all, most of which were foreign to me but also quite addictive to nibble on.
Some aromatic seeds.
Capping off the meal with some digestifs. I particularly enjoyed the duck egg one with Schnapps, which was sweet, creamy and mildly alcoholic.
Once in a very long while, one has the fortune to dine at a restaurant that is transcendental in its experience, with food that is unique, simple, and ultimately delicious. This is definitely one of those places. Coupled with the journey to get here, absorbing the beauty that is the Nordic landscape, one could perhaps have an inkling about the context and where the food comes from. Although Fäviken only has two Michelin stars, I still reckon it’s worth that special journey just to visit here. If not just for the food, but perhaps just to absorb everything else that the Swedish land has to offer.
Location: Fäviken Magasinet, Fäviken 216, 830 05 Järpen, Sweden. +46 647-401 77. Website.