I'm still re-living the evening I had at Kock & Vin in Gothenburg last week. Not sure if I'll ever forget it. Wandering down Viktoriagatan on an icy December pre-Christmas evening, looking for somewhere passable to eat, let's try this place we've heard about, supposed to be pretty fancy, etc. What a great find! A warm welcome from the staff, heavy coats secured away in the closet and swiftly into the subtle, classic, tasteful dining room. Still no idea what was to come but comfortable and relaxed already. Reading the menu still offers no real clue but we're obviously in for a treat. A nine course tasting menu with matching wines and beers is clearly the flagship but sanity prevails and I go for the six course "Menu of the Senses" while Mrs BN1 gets a specially created vegetarian selection. We hit the extensive wine list, full of big French names as well as classical Italians and carry on all the way to the last page where a 2004 Catena Alta Malbec is hiding. Then the fun begins. Amuse bouche of crab reduction followed 3 breads with home-made sour cream butter slapped on the table stones (yes, stones, on the table) precede the starter selection. Multiple tiny delights including crayfish crisp and shrimp toast arrive on boards and more stones and shells. All very pretty, very tasty but just an intro. The wine's excellent (shame it's the last bottle) and from here on in we start to realise just what a special place we've found. Beetroot with smoked mackerel and horseradish snow is difficult to translate and even harder to imagine the method used to create it. Shrimp with pickled gooseberry cream and dried shrimp head dust sets the scene and fried deep-sea white fish with parsnip, mushroom, all spice and another dust, this time lingonberry is the high point of the meal for me. Still 3 courses to go and of course the venison is perfect, the fir tree sprout topping totally appropriate. The cheese is locally matured and served with pickled salsify. So, we're almost not surprised when the pearls of blackberry sorbet are served tumbling out of sugary egg shells over crumbles of bark crust.
This really is a journey through the mind of a kitchen that knows exactly where it wants to go and how to get there. It's a fun ride but it's also serious with attention to detail and local sourcing of ingredients carried out with expert precision. All the dishes show stunning innovation of the kind that makes you wonder how they could even imagine the concept, let alone execute and deliver. All this combined with extremely charming staff and a perfectly relaxed atmosphere puts Kock & Vin up in my top ten restaurants of the world.
Menu : Amazing Innovation, West Coast style.