Stockholm Eats: Getting a Mouth Workout at Oaxen Slip
It was late, and I had just finished walking back to the hotel through snow flurries in the dark. I was enjoying the warmth of my room, and was contemplating perhaps just going across the street to a food court, but none of the restaurants there really struck my fancy.
I called a restaurant a bit away to see if they had any tables for dinner, but they were fully booked. So then I tried Oaxen Slip, which was even further away. A super friendly guy answered the phone said that they certainly did have space, and welcomed me to come over.
So I put on my boots and coat, and walked quite a bit in the freezing cold to a tram stop, and waited there for ten minutes or so for the tram to come to take me to the area of Skansen, where Oaxen was. This had better be worth it! Little did I know...
There are actually two Oaxen restaurants: one is Oaxen Krog, a 2-Michelin star restaurant, and the other is its more casual cousin Oaxen Slip. Both are housed in this kind of industrial-looking building right on the water. The views in the daytime must be pretty nice.
I was welcomed by the very friendly host, who I think had answered the phone earlier. The Oaxen Slip side made an immediate visual impression with the cathedral ceiling from which hung several boats. I had a choice of a couple different tables, or seating at the bar. The host said that a large group would be coming soon, which might get noisy, so recommended a table away from them. I liked this thoughtful service!
When I ordered, the waitress recommended a king crab arm (the most expensive main on the menu), or for a meat dish, the "braised neck of lamb with cabbage, mustard, and apple." I would have gone with that, but I don't like savory dishes with fruit in them. I thought the "Swedish brisket of beef glazed with fermented garlic, and root vegetables" sounded good - she said that it was cooked for two days, so I assumed it would be a lovely fall-off-the-bone tender piece of meat that would be perfect for the cold weather.
But when I ordered it, the waitress winced a bit. Was it because I didn't take her recommendation for the lamb, or because she knew what was to come?
To start, out came slices of a wonderfully crusty bread, along with a large piece of cracker. The latter can sometimes be strangely cardboard-y, but this was excellent, with a full flavor and wonderful crisp texture. Above all, the butter was just wonderful, with actual butter taste. I finished all of it!
I was excited when my beef came out. What an interesting presentation! A black piece of meat on a black plate, with brilliant curls of root vegetables and chives on top.
But when I cut in, the meat just wouldn't give! The knife I was given was woefully underpowered for the stubborn piece of meat, and as I sawed away at it, it kept slipping and sliding around on a layer of grease. Finally I managed to cut off a piece, and it had a muddy flavor, and was so chewy I just had to keep gnawing and gnawing at it to make it through.
The waitress recommended, as a side, the artichoke and potato gratin. It was good, nothing out of the ordinary. Good though, was good enough in comparison to the rubbery mass next to it.
I had such high hopes for my excursion to Oaxen Slip. In my mind, I thought it might be like my wonderful and memorable dinner at Amass a couple years back in Copenhagen: an exemplar of New Nordic cuisine served in a relaxed atmosphere, to which I had to also travel a bit away to get to.
But it was not to be.
It was disappointing because the space and the service were enjoyable, and I certainly devoured the bread basket! But it was sad that the bread was my favorite part of the meal. I would be willing to try it again, to sample other dishes besides the beef, but with so many other restaurants in the city...
Oaxen Krog & Slip (oaxen.com/en/)
115 21 Stockholm