VERY FINE LEVEL
981 33, Kiruna
Living room with warmth and personality
There’s a cutting wind as we walk down the winding streets with the mining mountain in the background. Dog owners have donned caps for their evening walk; clouds cover the midnight sun. But the warmth returns as soon as we enter the unassuming eatery. The mix of deli, bar, living room and restaurant is relaxed and welcoming, and it’s clear that both waterproofs and linen shirts are kosher. Tables are close together at our end of the dining room, but we only hear our own conversation, the apt and melancholy background music by Säkert!, and a pleasant buzz from the other tables. Groups of every age and composition speak in any number of languages, but the staff are all locals. The menu is varied and consistently good, whether you choose Arctic char, reindeer or vegetarian. The focus is clearly on local gastronomy, with a few felicitous Mediterranean outings. The bread basket from the in-house bakery is of course delicious, and comes with a herby butter. Starters are fabulous. The steak tartare of beef tenderloin lifts and expands in flavour with precisely the right amount of smoked reindeer meat, while plenty of herbs lend freshness and red onion and capers texture. The cured Arctic char also plays a leading role, supported by sour cream and trout roe. A tender stew of suovas, salted and lightly smoked reindeer meat, delivers a big and complex flavour despite few ingredients, and the recommended Chilean wine is a perfect match. ‘Kiruna stadsflytt – en salig röra’ (‘Kiruna city move – a right old mess’) is a dessert of ice cream, panna cotta, meringue, berry purée and oat crumbs that miraculously doesn’t fall apart. We hope the city doesn’t either. Kaffeost, or coffee with cheese, is ‘effin’ good’ according to the credible staff, but we settle for ‘different’.