Potentially the single most isolated restaurant in the world, Faviken is a tiny 16 seat restaurant in the north boonies of Sweden. There, Magnus Nilsson, the long-haired viking savant-like chef, cooks using all that is around him. Foraged herbs and berries from the estate, moose from the nearby woods, roots from their garden, milk and butter from the dairy down the road, shellfish from the nearby waters, even blankets from local sheep fur…Faviken truly is regional cooking at its best. Despite our dwindling budget, we decided to stay at Faviken for the night (they have 12 beds for guests), getting the complete experience.
we got to Faviken after an 18 hour journey via train, coach, and school bus. Worth it.
Julian: I’ll say it from the start. This was the best meal of my life. Hands down. That’s saying a lot, considering the restaurants we’ve been. But Faviken is in a league of its own.
Jesse: I’m having trouble putting words to paper to describe our experience, I don’t think I’ll be able t do it justice. 18 hours, two trains, two buses, a little bit of wandering lost, and we were standing on a dirt path which we hoped led to Faviken (luckily we had stumbled onto the 1 school bus that goes past that road once a day). Faviken is in it’s own little world, and you truly feel immersed in that world as soon as you set food on the estate (in our case, I think our uncertain journey to the restaurant made us feel like we had begun our Faviken experience even earlier). The giant red barns made with huge chunks of solid tree trunk, the beautiful white estate house, the stone cellars that look like hobbit holes, the rolling green hills (at least during the summer), the edible gardens, the fire pits burning delightful smelling birch, and the furs draped over chairs and on walls, all transport you to a different time.
cheese made 10 minutes ago, still warm from the cow
Julian: You also forget about time there. You forget that you have to figure out how to get back to wherever you came from. You forget that you have this business plan to write. You forget that you really oughta start exercising or else you’ll soon become a fat man. You forget how many hamburger patties you would have had to prep to have paid for this luxury. You’re just there. And oh what a fine place to be.
chef Magnus Nilsson’s fur coat. Unfortunately Magnus was in Peru while we were there.
There’s so much to say about Faviken. Every course–all 27 of them–were notable. Not just because of their flavors, but also because of the story they told–the stories of the estate, of the local artisans and producers, of Swedish traditions, of the various curing pig parts that are hanging in the dining room, of the work that Magnus and his team have done to bring you all of these wonderful flavors. The meal begins on the ground floor of this old nineteenth century farmhouse. Magnus’ massive fur coat hangs in one corner, numerous herbs are drying in bunches on the exposed wooden walls, the smell of a warm birchwood fire fills the room, you see the chefs carefully harvesting wild strawberries and herbs outside. The anticipation for what is to come could not be higher.
new potato with last winter’s leaves
Jesse: High expectations can ruin a meal if the experience falls short, but our expectations were exceeded in ways I never would have imagined. I have to beat Julian to it and mention possibily one of the most delicious dishes I’ve eaten: the seared langoustine sprayed with attika vinegar, and almost burnt cream. The langoustine, also known as the Norway lobster or Dublin Bay Prawn, is a thinner, more light pink lobster than what we’re used to in the States, and they’re freakin delicious.
langoustine and burnt cream on a twig
Julian: Ahhh! I wanted to talk about that. I’m not a lobster lover compared to a lot of people, but that was out of this world. We could probably write on and on about this meal, very quickly losing the interest of our one or two readers. So I’ll just talk about one other dish that stands out to me on this fine day of post-feast digestion. It was called “Porridge of grains and seeds from Jamtland finished with a lump of salty butter (did I mention they have the best butter I’ve ever had?), fermented carrots, and wild leaves, meat broth filtered through moss.” Sound complex? Well it tasted even more so. It immediately took me back to this pond I used to swim at in Massachusetts–White’s Pond. I never liked swimming at this pond because I hate swimming. But I have amazing memories of the place…going there after school, swimming to the dock in the middle of the pond, swallowing gulps of nasty water, peeing in the bushes….Anyway, eating this porridge–with its woodsy, organic, funky flavor–took me right to that shitty rocky beach. And somehow, like everything they served us, they made this dish taste delicious.
raw peas, currants, and chanterelles
Jesse: By the end of our meal, due partly to a somm who was generous with his pours, I was quite full, almost uncomfrotably so (but only I’m to blame, I couldn’t get enough of that bread and fresh butter), a little bit drunk, and completely content–but there was more! Out came the box of treats, with too many fun little candies and such to name, as well as a custom aromatic tea bar, and, as is apparently customary in Sweden, a bit of snus. Never have I imagined that I would be given chewing tobacco as part of a dining experience, but here it was. I wouldn’t say I liked the stuff, although I did a bit better keeping it off my face than Julian, but it added to the experience. We wrapped up our meal–5 hours later–sitting on the porch, staring over the Swedish countryside at the stars. Pulling blankets around ourselves, we sat in our fur covered chairs drunkinly discussing renewable energy and the economic crisis with a Norwegian engineer, all the while puffing on a couple Cohiba cigars and sipping on rum to match.
raw beef heart, bone marrow, and flowers
Julian: I went to bed in awe. “That’s it,” I kept muttering under my breath as I fell asleep, covered in a manly fur blanket. “That’s the best restaurant in the world.”
tour of their butchery
breaky spread the morning after