VERY FINE LEVEL
903 64, Umeå
A French touch amid pines and art
Upriver from central Umeå is this French-inspired bistro, located in a large park dedicated to exhibiting sculpture – and also well worth a visit. Be sure to book a table – the restaurant is deservedly popular, and we’ve had to turn back more than once when we’d decided too late where we wanted to go. Those wise enough to have booked are treated to a classical French menu with local and Norrland ingredients. Some signature dishes are fixtures, while others follow the seasons. The food is cooked in an open kitchen right by the entrance and the cloakroom, so there’s every opportunity to have a few words with the cooks. This lack of interior walls also means that some banging of pots and pans, and a certain amount cooking fumes, make their way into the dining room – but it’s a French bistro, after all. Staff are experienced, nimble and know their stuff. They move deftly between the tables, which are placed very close together. Business conversations and very personal chitchat are hardly appropriate on a busy evening – in fact it’s difficult not to engage with your neighbours, at least with a nod and a greeting. Guests are mostly locals, and the average age is easily 50, if not more. The food, if we try to capture it in one word, is hearty. Flavours are consistently deep, thanks to slow-cooked broths and careful preparation, of course. Give the drinks menu some serious consideration – it’s not biblical in length, but selective rather, and includes some pleasant surprises both by the glass and the bottle.