Jonas Cramby – tasting his way through Stockholm
Publish date: 29 November 2020
It all started with a hunch. In spite of living in an apartment with no kitchen for several years, Jonas Cramby just knew he had it in him to be a great chef. Many years and eight cook- and food-related guidebooks later, there’s no doubt. He was right.
Journalist, author, and Stockholmer Jonas Cramby’s latest book is called “Stockholm för foodisar” (Stockholm for foodies). The book is a depiction of Stockholm’s culinary scene – not only does Jonas Cramby serve the reader a full tasting menu of nearly 150 tips on restaurants, bars, and cafés – he’s also tucked in various tasting examples to explain the Swedish food culture.
We meet up at Drop Coffee, the famous and fairtrade-certified café in Södermalm where Jonas Cramby is a long-time regular. Together with Bageri Petrus and Johan & Nyström, they make the intersection of Wollmar Yxkullsgatan and Swedenborgsgatan the “ground zero” of fika, as Jonas Cramby calls it. In other words, it's a must for visitors longing for juicy cinnamon buns and tasty coffee.
In his new book, he deliberately left out luxury restaurants and celebrity chefs, and describes his decision as a part of a bigger trend in Stockholm right now: How we start to implement restaurants in our everyday life, we don’t need a special occasion as an excuse to dine out anymore. And it doesn’t have to be that fancy.
– The restaurant Babette has played an important role in this trend. When they opened in 2015, people were furious. They felt it was too simple to be served a salad or a pizza without a nice presentation, even though it tasted delicious. Nowadays, every young chef in Stockholm wants to open a place like Babette.
Sweden lacks the tradition of the English pubs or the French bistros, and if you’d go back to the 00’s you’d experience a nightlife that was limited to Stureplan and non-existing outside of the weekends. There were even sushi restaurants that weren’t able to get a liquor license due to "bureaucracy". But our lack of a gastronomic heritage doesn’t have to be all bad, according to Jonas Cramby.
– You know, when I was a kid my grandma told me that the only people who were outside after 7 pm were the homeless. That was the mindset. Proper people don’t go out misbehaving in the pub. That has changed dramatically. Nowadays it’s much easier, casual, and a part of everyday life. And since we’re not bound by traditions, we are so much freer to do whatever we want.
Let’s eat our way through a day in Stockholm! Where should we go for…
– Lillebrors Bageri in Vasastan. He’s an incredible and intense baker with a small, cozy bakery and a homebuilt counter from which you can watch him bake. It’s like a sushi bar, only with bread and pastries. You immediately feel his obsession with baking buns.
– To be honest, brunch is a popular form of eating that I consider almost always being bad. It’s disgusting with buffets, small desserts in plastic cups, and tangled bacon. But if you have to do it, Pom & Flora is the best. The only bad thing about that place is that it’s so crowded and that brunching there is so successful.
– Bekhal Kebab in Vårberg. It’s very simple – a hole in the wall on a parking lot – but they make their own bread and everything is freshly grilled and super cheap. The US has great Mexican food due to Mexican immigrants. Sweden has immigrants from the Middle East, making Stockholm the best place for shish kebab in northern Europe. When I did the research for my book, I discovered a whole new world of fantastic kebab restaurants along the red subway line.
– Cha Talk at Rådmansgatan. I’m childishly fond of bubble tea. It’s like Starbucks ten years ago, with 20-years-old bloggers, so I always feel old and misplaced when going there. I started to bring my kids there as an excuse, and now they prefer bubble tea over candy.
– I love Sushi Sho, for many reasons. It’s a relaxed place with delicious food. It’s authentic – they use local fish and prepare it exactly like the sushi chefs in Tokyo. You can be assured you will get an experience that matches the price.
– I’m curious about Lucy’s Flower Shop. I haven’t been there yet, one of my favorite bartenders just opened it. If it’s good, it might go into the next edition of the book.
– Tacy, a secret taco place in the basement of Symbios, where you can eat tacos until 1 a.m. Symbios is a fancy Nordic restaurant, but when you walk down the stairs you’ll find spray-painted walls and a homemade bar that serves tacos and Margaritas. It’s definitely more fun than eating a hot dog. Just send them a DM on Instagram if you’re planning to arrive late, to make sure they’re open.
Name one museum you shouldn’t miss?
– I love Etnografiska. They have so much cool stuff and a Japanese tea house. I took a class on Japanese tea ceremony there. It’s incredibly advanced – like a mixture of karate and fika.
If you're stuffed full and want to do something else besides eating, what would you do?
– One of my favorite things to do is to take a walk around Södermalm in the summertime. When I first moved to Stockholm I laughed at the locals who put on swimming trunks and bikinis to go sunbathing in the parks. Now I love it. Many locals stay in the city during the summer and if you walk around Långholmen and Södermalm you’ll see clusters of people taking a swim in the city center, diving off bridges, and dancing on the beaches. To me, that is what Stockholm is all about.