It had been a somewhat traumatic first day in Gothenburg. None of it was Gothenburg’s fault, of course! I and the lovely Jeanne of CookSister were invited back to Gothenburg by the West Sweden Tourist Board and this time it was to experience a Swedish Christmas and were we excited! We both adore Christmas markets and to see the best one in Sweden was going to be good, we could tell. We didn’t expect what happened that first day though…

We had arrived Friday morning on an SAS flight from Heathrow and the landing had been horrendous – there had been serious turbulence all the way until we landed (enough to warrant a shriek from someone a few rows ahead of me). It’s quite disconcerting to watch as your plane wobbles from side to side with the ground just within spitting distance from you. It turned out to be the tail end of the big storm that hit Scotland the day before: high winds and rain were the order of the day and while Gothenburg is renowned for its rain, even this was a bit extreme. That wasn’t the end of it: luggage was left behind in Heathrow, an umbrella broken, we got wet and lost. We ended up giving up for the day (I barely have any photos to show of the day) and just settled into a cafe – SoHo in Gothenburg where we were due to meet Stephanie from Travel PR, Emelie from West Sweden Tourist Board and Eva of Gothenburg Tourist Board for fika. Thank goodness for Gothenburg’s many warm and comfy cafes!

The hot coffee warmed us up and got us ready for more indoor activity – shopping. I’ll keep it brief but yeah, I love Scandinavian design and the everything there is beautiful. Anyway, our stomachs were quite empty come dinnertime as the events of the day caused us to forget to eat properly (I know!); I was experiencing this unfamiliar feeling called hunger and it caused me to feel somewhat lost and out of sorts. Eva had kindly arranged for our dinners during this trip and that night we went to Restaurang Familjen. The place is ultra casual but sports a Bib Michelin and was totally packed that Friday evening. Dinner there turned out to be just the thing we needed.

Bread and crispbread (knäckebröd) and butter and a jar of chicken liver pate with pickles and crispy fried onions were brought to our table. Crispy fried onions! They just make everything better and indeed, I adored the crunch it gave the creamy pate. (A tubful of the crispy onions left with me that weekend.)

Bread and Butter and Pate

Crispy Fried Onions

We both chose the Menu – three courses with a choice of two main courses, priced at 335 SEK. A la carte was available as was another Menu Familjen priced at 455 SEK.

To start, a Baked pork belly, glazed with honey and apple cider vinegar, black cabbage and puree of Jerusalem artichoke from Lödderup arrived looking dainty but it turned out to be just the right size. Sweet and tangy and soft was the meat but I only wished the crackling had been crunchier. To accompany, black cabbage (cavolo nero) deep fried to a crisp and a delicious smooth puree (much better than the one time I tried to roast Jerusalem artichokes).

Baked Pork Belly

For my main, I chose the Braised chuck steak with porter fried turnips, pearl onions and cream of yellow onion. The steak could have benefited from a longer braise but it was still quite tender and so good with that cream of caramelised onions.

Braised Chuck Steak

Jeanne had the Seared Swedish potato gnocchi with cauliflower cream and chestnuts, served with a roasted cabbage bouillon. I’ve decided that seared gnocchi is really the way to go and that for cauliflower, a cauliflower cream is right up there flavour-wise with roasted cauliflower.

Seared Swedish Potato Gnocchi

Dessert was simple yet impressive. This was not the lingonberry cake with star anise bullion that was on the menu but instead was a Gingerbread cake with vanilla ice cream served with lingonberries, saffron bullion and crisp of Christmas spices. The saffron syrup at the bottom of the bowl was so fragrant – I had no idea that the use of saffron is so popular in Sweden. The lingonberries had been ever so slightly stewed and popped gently like salmon caviar.

Lingonberry Cake

I like to think of it as sophisticated comfort food. The preparations are familiar to us all but the ingredients were novel to me at least. It was obvious that the restaurant cooks seasonally but despite the obvious limitations of this in Sweden (hello, cold Scandinavia!), the food was delicious. And yes, perfect for when there’s a gale outside. Booking recommended.

Restaurang Familjen
Arkivgatan 7
411 34 Gothenburg
Sweden

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