So now all the Christmas decorations are officially out. There is no escaping anymore. I really love Christmas, don’t get me wrong. I am just opposed to it always starting so early. By the time it is mid-December, I am already bored with all the fuss. Continue reading “Wineweek 53:Swedish Christmas Treats”
One of my favorite coffee bars in Stockholm belong to the chain Espresso House. They do perhaps not in general contribute to the great coffee scene but rather bringing up the average quality be serving a decent cup. The location in Hötorgshallen is however their showroom and have both better coffee and more skilled baristas than their other locations. Hötorgshallen is a food hall in the center of Stockholm and this café is on the ground floor alongside several other restaurants and cafés and downstairs in the basement there are numerous vendors selling cheese, meat, vegetables, nuts, spices and many other things (there is even a Finnish specialty food store). In general a nice place to browse but it also means a lot of people moving through there so even if there is free wifi and some space to sit at Espresso house it is still not a really great place to hang out for a long period of time. The staff are however very knowledgeable and friendly so still like the place.
The main thing is however the coffee. As all Espresso house they have coffee roasted by Solberg & Hansen but in addition to the normal range of five different coffees to select from they have an additional three to five different ones. Usually these ones are more interesting and smaller lots. All coffees can be ordered as hand-brews and are very nicely prepared. The espresso based beverages are also good but I am not a super-fan of their espresso blend.
The food selection is virtually non-existent, only some cakes and pastries but they do kindly offer to grab some food from the other places and still sit and eat it at the tables at Espresso House.
So how does it rate:
Coffee quality: 4
Ambiance and service: 3.5
Vs local competition: 4.5
I have always been a fan of food markets. Browsing around food stalls, snacking on tasters and sitting down for a cup of “market-coffee” is wonderfully brainless and relaxing, not to mention quite Finnish (especially the “market-coffee” part). The food I decide to pick up also sets the mood for the evenings wine-activities.
Högtorgshallen is one of my absolute favorite food markets in Stockholm. It is not the cheapest, as it is right smack in the center, but it has a good selection of foods, as well as nice restaurants to satisfy mid-shopping snack-attacks. This place might get a bit touristy in the day, but if you head there early in the morning, you can browse in peace. Here are a few tips for restaurants and stalls, and an abundance of photos to get your tummy growling.
1. One of the best cafes in town in located on the street level in Högtorgshallen. Espresso House is a Swedish chain serving decent coffee and cafe food (you can rest assured to get at least an ok brew from every branch). A chain is always tricky because you do not have the same coffee-talent at each location, however this one is special; they have a brew-bar and the talented baristas make hand/brewed coffees from Solberg & Hansen single-origin beans. They don’t serve much food, but you can just pop into the Gateau bakery next door to get some pastries or hand made sandwiches to have at the cafe.
2. Tokyo Diner is one of my favorite spots for lunch in the city center. They do sushi and also some warm dishes, like Yakitori, steamed cod and the best pulled pork tacos in town (Asian inspired of course). No reservations required, just walk in and enjoy watching the market come to life around you.
3. Saluplats Husman is a cheese stall downstairs. They have a nice selection of french cheeses, like Gryerge and Comte and some wonderful Brilliant-Savarin (adult Philadelphia). There are always some tasters on the counter to get you into the mood for cheese-shopping and the staff are very friendly and knowledgeable (even though this is one of the most touristic markets in town). I do prefer shopping for cheese at Wijnjas Cheese Garage in Kungsholmen though. Their quality is equal and prices 30% lower. However it requires some effort to get there, so if in town, I pick up my cheeses here.
These tips were just scratching the surface of the selection at Högtorghallen. There are also several meat stalls, fish restaurants, Taylor & Jones gourmet sausages and a Finnish shop, with all the classics from a Finnish food market (not the touristy crap, but the real deal). You can pop in for wine shopping in Systembolaget (on the bottom floor), and outside on the square you can buy fruit and vegetables, berries (in the summer) and flowers. I also spotted they have a terrace on the roof for having summer drinks outside. Everything is here for a perfect Saturday pre-wine shopping spree.