From the White Guide Nordic 2018:
- Address: Kungstensgatan 2, 114 25 Stockholm
- Phone: +46 8 696 23 23
- Web: esperantorestaurant.se
- Seats: 25
- Opening Hours: Wed-Sat 6.30 PM-12 midnight. Closed Christmas, Midsummer and specific weeks in July and August
- Directions: See Google Map underneath
Sensual bordering on transcendental
Sayan Isaksson and his kitchen staff continue to hone their finely tuned poetic gastronomy, which so credibly blends the best of the Nordics and Japan in a generous yet restrained performance that engages all the senses. On a staggeringly high technical level Isaksson is the master of small expressions, which is evident in the initial parade of nine amuse-bouches. A quail egg in an eggcup made of salt is marbled in black vinegar, and the umami volume increases a half-notch when you dip it into a speckled mushroom mayonnaise (see cover photo). In this era of umami shock it is gratifying to find an example of the fifth taste sensation’s entire lovely register. Nowhere else can you eat with your eyes like this. Brittle tubes of dried black garlic on a bed of charred garlic peel are mesmerizing and, with a hidden filling of freshly picked greens, it is as much an exercise in texture as taste, where soft and chewy meet fresh and crunchy. This clear focus on textures is the big revelatory experience of the year. A little taco boat of cod skin contains a raw shrimp with an almost sticky-sweet creaminess on a bed of airy shrimp mousse with a bite of acidity. The first bread presentation is a crispy branch of seaweed with small paper-thin leaves and house-made nori – a calligraphic sculpture. That Isaksson recreates his entire menu (the six-course is a compressed version of the ten-course) between seasons is impressive. A few signature elements naturally stay on, like the origami flower of dried milk skin, now with crab inside, which is presented tableside in a small smoke-filled cloche. Most dishes include a small flourish at the table, and the whole dining show has found a new confidence that balances deftly between the formal and the informal, underscored by the fact that the sommeliers now glide around in long-sleeved, black cotton sweaters. A semi-transparent screen partitions off the Imouto sushi enclave in the far corner, and the slightly subdued hustle from there no longer collides as it did initially with the dining room, which develops its own light and murmur with a little help from what head sommelier Sören Polonius pours in our glasses. Polonius has now managed to build up the cellar with proper top picks, often six unique bottles from one legend and a unique case from another, and the wine menu refuses to take a supporting role in the big picture – for better or worse. This applies in particular to the “Coravin” section, three glasses of unique old-timers that you can get as part of your wine pairings “at the daily price”. The risk is of course that a wine with over 50 years behind it, like the red ’67 from the Cotes du Jura, does not have enough fruit to cope, in this case with one of the winter menu’s highlights – a shiny disc of beef marrow doused in a high-octane bouillon of oxtail and roasted cauliflower and topped with a spoonful of fresh Carelian caviar. Here Isaksson shows that he has also mastered the flavours in the heavier register without losing his unique musicality. He hits every note with the Linderöd pig, whose seared loin is hiding, along with a clam cream, under a slim circle of crème fraîche strewn with hazelnuts and delicate pieces of puffed pork rind. Never before has pig been served with such finesse. A quail from Norrby Säteri shows that the house takes advantage of the bird from beak to tail. The breast is served with “a study in white onion”, an artistic arrangement where a jus, cut with the fat from the quail and scented with poppy and mustard seeds, is poured over the heart and liver from the bird. On the side, the thigh to gnaw upon. For dessert, delights from the vegetable kingdom are a surprise: it is not every day one gets a fresh beetroot caramel and brown bean tartlet...
To read the whole review go to Buy The White Guide Nordic 2018.