People are curious by nature. Maybe that’s one of the reasons why My Struggle, the six-volume autobiographical novel by Norwegian writer Karl Ove Knausgård, has sold in staggering numbers and been translated into numerous languages. The reader is invited to peek shamelessly into someone else’s life.
From the lengthy descriptions of mundane chores to musings on poetry to the brutally honest confessions of a man’s mind – it’s all out in the open for us to read. Most readers couldn’t put the books down; I certainly couldn’t. I was especially taken with volume two, A Man in Love, wherein most of the action occurs in Stockholm. Thank goodness for those painfully detailed descriptions; I’ve singled out parts where Knausgård describes his wanderings through the city with the book as my guide.
As it turned out, Knausgård liked to hang out in places where you can eat some pretty fantastic food. We’ve narrowed them down to six – treat them as an amuse bouche to whet the appetite, leaving you hungry enough to pick up the book and discover more of Karl Ove Knausgård’s culinary Stockholm.
Take a tour of Knausgård’s favorite spots:
Located on the island of Djurgården, Blå Porten is a charming restaurant/café where you can get a hearty lunch or treat yourself to dinner and a glass of wine (there’s always something meaty, fishy and vegetarian on the menu). There are also sandwiches available as well as plenty of sweet treats to satisfy your fika cravings. When Knausgård visited Blå Porten with his partner Linda and their baby daughter one day in winter, his mind was pretty much made up before he even looked at the menu. It had to be lammfärsbiffar (lamb patties). They’re a staple at Blå Porten and they really are tasty!
115 21 Stockholm
Mon – Fri 11:00 am – 9:00 pm
Sat & Sun 11 – 8:00 pm
Knausgård visited Moderna Museet frequently with his little daughter Vanja. There was always an exhibition worth seeing and, what was important when he looked after Vanja nearly full-time, there were play areas on the premises and a child-friendly restaurant.
Kid-friendly it may be, but I was mostly stunned with the restaurant’s view over the water, which you can admire from the inside or, weather permitting, sitting on a terrace. The lunch menu is very reasonably priced and consists of a dish of the day and a colourful salad buffet. There is always something sweet for the obligatory fika.
If, however, restaurant lunching is not your thing, you’ll also find a café on the museum’s premises. It’s a charming, less formal and very cosy place where you can grab a salad, a sandwich or a piece of cake in between visiting the exhibitions. Although the interior is very artsy, there’s nothing like sitting in the adjacent garden when sun’s out. Those who want just a decent cup of coffee can stop by a coffee bar next to the main entrance.
Restaurant at Moderna Museet
Tue – Fri 11:00 am – 2:00 pm
Sat – Sun 11:00 am – 5:00 pm
Tue 11:00 am – 7:30 pm
Wed – Sun 11:00am – 5:30 pm
Tue 10.00 am – 8.00 pm
Wed – Sun 10.00 am – 6.00 pm
This is a two-storey food hall located at Hötorget. One day, Karl Ove and Linda went there to purchase some ingredients for a dinner party. A smart move, as the place is perfect for getting anything you need to feed a bunch of people. Fresh fish, various cuts of meat, cheeses from near and far, a wide variety of grains, nuts and dried fruit, crusty breads and sweet buns, chocolates and coffee. And if you’re pressed for time or are not the cooking kind, you can pick up ready-made meals. They look and taste homemade; once displayed on your very own dinnerware, no one will know you haven’t been cooking! Systembolaget (liquor store) is there too.
What’s fantastic about this place is that you can always chat with the stallholders. If you come across some strange grain, do not know what to do with ox cheeks or need one last bit of French fromage to make your fancy after-dinner cheese board complete, you’ll always get an answer, a recipe and a sample. And don’t fear practicing your Swedish while you’re at it!
111 57 Stockholm
Mon – Thu 10.00 am – 6.00 pm
Fri 11 am – 7.00 pm
Sat 10.00 am – 4.00 pm
This is where Karl Ove would often join Linda for lunch. She studied at the Dramatiska Institutet, located near Filmhuset. Apart from being a popular meeting place for those who work in the film industry as well as all movie buffs (it houses a large cinema and a film library), Filmhuset will feed you well. You can either have a hearty lunch at the Filmhusets Bar & Bistro or a smaller bite at the café.
The former offers a menu that changes daily and there’s always something suitable for meat enthusiasts and vegetarians. Coffee, bread, butter and a salad buffet are included in the price. The café is a smaller affair but with an equally cinematic ambience. Enjoy a sandwich and coffee sitting by the window or sink comfortably into a retro diner booth seat with a piece of cake.
115 53 Stockholm
Filmhusets Bar & Bistro
Mon – Fri 11:00 – 2:00 pm
Mon – Fri 8:00 am – 6:00 pm
Sat & Sun 1:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Pelikan is a place where Knausgård and his friend Geir would often meet to share a beer or two, grab a bite (meatballs!) and discuss life. And rightly so, as the place – with its bohemian vibes and old-timey décor – encourages talking late into the night. As for the food and drinks menu, you’ll be spoilt for choice. The cuisine, apart from a few international influences, is very much Swedish and so you’ll have a chance to taste fish in various preparations (smoked, baked, salted), reindeer meat and local cheeses. On top of that, the selection of Brännvin (Aquavit) is quite impressive; you’d better start thinking about all toasts you’ll be raising! Skål!
116 62 Stockholm
Mon & Tue 4:00 pm – midnight
Wed & Thu 4:00 pm – 1:00 am
Fri – Sun noon – 1:00 pm
Saturnus was one of Karl Ove and Linda’s favorite cafés. Hidden on the charming, bow-shaped Eriksbergsgatan, it offers a bit of French quaintness in the middle of the city. The menu, however, is a mixture of Swedish and Mediterranean cuisine featuring seasonal ingredients, such as Burrata Caprese with tomatoes and strawberries or pasta with courgette flowers.
If you are a breakfast person, you’ll love Saturnus for its fluffy omelettes, crusty baguettes and fruit-laden chia puddings. But you’ll love this place even more for its fika and the biggest cinnamon and cardamom buns in the city. You can actually hide your face behind one; they’re that big!
114 30 Stockholm
Mon – Fri 7:00 am – 8:00 pm
Sat & Sun 8:00 am – 7:00 pm
Did we miss your favorite Knausgård spot in Stockholm? Tell us about it in the comments!