(a foodie-insider’s travel tips)
Aoife Nowell lived the expat life in Sweden for around a year. She left a little of her heart there, and before our trip to TBEX she was quick to offer Cooper and I some excellent advice on where to drink and eat like a local in Stockholm.
You might like to jot these tips on awesome bars, cafes and restaurants down before your own trip…
Where to eat like a local in Stockholm – Aoife says:
My two favourite coffee shops are literally within 100 metres of each other and both near the square that I lived on. The first is called Il caffé and the second is Gilda.
They are completely different but both do amazing coffee and lunch and are great places to sit and chill. Il Caffé in particular will allow you to properly indulge in ‘Fika’ which the Swedes have every afternoon – it basically means a time to relax with each other and coffee and cake! The ‘cake’ for me should always be a cinnamon bun and Il Caffé 100% do the best we ever tried, it is known locally as Kanelbulle.
For a cocktail before dinner, there’s a bar called Gondolen which is at Slussen, just as you come on to Sodermalm from the old town. From here you’ll get some of the best views of the city. It can be a bit touristy but the view is worth it even if just for an hour.
Past that, my favourite bars were little local ones around where I lived, like one called Snottys and Bahnhof. Generally you can wander around anywhere and find plenty of great bars, I would just avoid Gamla Stan (Old Town) if you want something more authentic, as they’re naturally geared up for tourists and cruise ship trade and tend to be more expensive. There are lots of great options if you are in that area though.
Two popular summer bars (as they’re outdoors) are Debaser Slussen and Tregarden, and then around the Stureplan area Sturecompagniet and Spy Bar are both very popular.
There is a great bar / restaurant in Stureplan that I’d highly recommend called Riche – the food is really good (although it’s not in my top listed five below), however definitely a good place to go for a drink before or after dinner.
And five of my favourite places to dine, drink and eat like a local in Stockholm are:
1. Matsbaren – This place is just amazing! It’s pretty pricey but absolutely worth it. In the basement of the Grand Hotel, it is a Michelin starred restaurant run by Mathias Dahlgren. There are two restaurants, Matsalen and Matsbaren – it is Matsbaren I would recommend – my husband and I ate there the night we got engaged.
2. Pelikan – Has the best meatballs in town! Pelikan is a must for a typical Swedish meal. Set in an old Swedish beer hall, you can tell that it’s hundreds of years old. It is a terrific experience and the staff are great too. If you go here you have to have the meatballs with mashed potato and lingonberries. You can’t book this one but there is a large bar where you can wait, and it doesn’t take too long to get in.
3. Bar Central – Not really Swedish but just a great and unusual menu, good wine list and lovely environment to relax in. You won’t get a single tourist in this place either.
4. Miss Voon (pictured) – Not Swedish either, but combines Asian and European foods perfectly. Really nicely done inside, and if you like this kind of food then this place will be right up your street. Being positioned by the fresh Scandinavian waters, this is the best for amazing fish too.
5. Urban Deli – Urban Deli Nytorget is perfect for brunch or lunch. I wouldn’t pick it for dinner over the four above but it wouldn’t let you down. The concept is great – it’s a really nice mini food hall, with a cool bar and tables for breakfast, lunch or dinner and seating outside in the warmer months. They also have a bakery close by where they make everything fresh! Breakfast or brunch would be my recommendation for here, I lived literally next door – love it!
Do you have tips or questions? Let us know in the comments, and for more on Stockholm check out our 48-hour travel itinerary here or find out how to buy alcohol in Sweden at a Systembolaget (it’s not as straightforward as popping out to your local Tesco).
Find Aoife on Instagram.
If you’re a foodie eating in London, you’d be mistaken to think there’s only over-cooked food and fish and chips. Far from your typical pub fare, London offers so much for the discerning foodie, especially when you know where to look.
Best spots for eating in London
Located in London’s Victoria and serving some of the city’s finest Italian fare, diners at TOZI will find something so much more than the expected. TOZI specialises in Venetian cicchetti, or smaller sized plates designed to share as well as a selection of wood fired pizzas. Dishes at TOZI are inspired by the casual dining of the Veneto regions with a strong emphasis on seasonal and quality ingredients, sourced where possible from the best Italian producers.
Italian born, head chef Maurillo has years of experience running Italian restaurants in some of the city’s most exclusive private member clubs including Shoreditch House, and the menu reflects exactly the fine dining calibre you’d expect.
Paired with an Italian wine list and a sophisticated classic Italian (of course) cocktail menu, don’t be surprised if you find yourself already planning your return. And if you’re the type to get a bit of ‘menu paralysis’ whereby you’re unable to order when there’s just too amazing choices, you can leave the ordering in the very capable hands of the wait staff at TOZI and you won’t be disappointed.
Meals are generously portioned, deliciously fresh and cooked to perfection. And while the meals are certainly a win, it’s the friendly service that adds so much more to the experience.
The bar menu includes a signature Spritz, home-made barrel-aged Negroni and Amaro TOZI, served straight from the barrel.
Casual dining/street food
Truly one of the most fun places for eating in London – street food at the Brick Lane Food markets!
Located a short walk from East Aldgate and Shoreditch stations, you’ll find absolutely every cuisine you could possibly imagine (and many you didn’t even know existed!) here.
Just walking into the food market area, your senses will certainly be overcome with the buzzing atmosphere of authentic cuisines served up with pride. It’s a great way to spend an afternoon. Just make sure to arrive hungry!
And if street food isn’t your thing, while you’re in the Brick Lane market area, you can visit boutique food shops, bars, restaurants, cafes as well as a cereal bar called Cereal Killer (yes they serve boxed cereal only and yes people queue to eat it). There’s truly something for everyone here.
While you walk off those calories, enjoy the art, craft and second-hand markets that spill out over several streets and include hundreds stalls selling clothing, artwork, handmade items, vintage items and antiques, collectibles, you name it. It’s essentially more shopping than you’d likely be able to do in a day.
It’s the quintessential London experience to enjoy an afternoon or high tea and Scoff & Banter, located just below The Radisson Blu Edwardian, Bloomsbury Street Hotel in Covent Garden is just the place to do it.
Located a short stroll from many of the city’s theatres such as the popular Cambridge Theatre, it’s a great spot to enjoy a matinee and high-tea experience. Scoff & Banter offers afternoon tea experiences that are often themed to accompany the performance taking place at the theatre.
The afternoon experience offers a menu both adults and children will adore with the traditional tea sandwiches, scones, jam and cream and decadent sweets.
After tea, enjoy a bit of retail therapy in the popular Seven Dials shopping district loaded with a heavy mixture of international brands as well as smaller boutiques.
No matter your preference in dining styles, spending just a few days in London will still allow you to experience a whole world of delicious dining experiences.
About the author
Gwen O’Toole is an accomplished writer focussing on travel, events management and food and wine. She also published a fiction novel while spending the past eight years as a magazine editor and travelling the globe before launching The Ideas Library, a creative services and event management company. She is regularly featured in a variety of travel and leisure publications and blogs.
Verde Restaurant Sydney delicious Italian
The last time I was in Sydney I mentioned on Facebook that I’d enjoyed the best meal of my life. A number of people have since asked if I was joking, but actually no, I was totally serious.
On a mission to discover a Sydney beyond the tourist traps, Cooper and I found ourselves wandering just under ten minutes from our Potts Point accommodation (or King’s Cross station as a landmark) to a suburban restaurant surrounded by beautiful tree lined streets and swimming with aromas of Italy.
Our noses led us to Verde Restaurant & Bar, recent winner of three prestigious Chef’s Hats. As the sun set across the city, we wandered into this very elegant, intimate establishment – a stunning, heritage listed Victorian building, situated on the corner of Stanley and 115 Riley Street within an area renowned as being East Sydney’s ‘Little Italy’.
Our usual dining routine is this: Take a seat, choose a main, perhaps an entrée if really hungry – both of which would be dishes familiar to us; scoff meal, leave full and with any luck, feel generally satisfied.
At Verde Restaurant Sydney however, because we had arrived just prior to the evening rush, we had the pleasure of chatting to Antonio Ruggerino, owner and head chef (pictured below), who insisted we try it his way. Antonio is one of those truly passionate Italians who is as enthusiastic about food as he is knowledgeable.
He’s worked for a variety of excellent restaurants all over the world, but told us his real inspiration stemmed from a love of hanging out – watching and learning – in the family kitchen as a child. Antonio’s always loved food, and was smart enough to follow this passion into an adult career.
And how could we resist anyone who said to us he wanted to “Feed us like we’re true Italian family”? Deal.
So began our foray into tasting smaller portions of a wide variety of dishes (entrées, mains and desserts) featured on the Verde menu rather than one or two larger items resulting in our usual predictable outcome.
As we enjoyed a divine glass of sparkling wine, we eagerly anticipated what would emerge first. A large plate brimming with samples predominantly from the entrée menu appeared in no time. Take a look at the menu HERE, and as your mouth waters, let me assure you these taste even better than they sound.
The Zucchini flowers filled with ricotta and spinach are divine, and the chilli dusted calamari melts in your mouth. We tried about ten different items however, and each offered a taste phenomenon that had us longing for more in between expressions like, “wow”, “how did he do that” and “that’s sooo good”.
One thing we loved about Antonio’s food is that it wasn’t overdone. It’s not ‘too fancy’ – it’s actually quite simple cuisine but tasty and perfectly prepared, cooked and matched with complementary ingredients.
Then came a round of options from the mains menu. The Gnocchi (home made), Mozzarella di Buffalo, parsley, Tomato Sugo was to die for – a delicious explosion of tomato and cheese flavours and alluring textures. I had to be restrained from licking my plate. We also tried Confit of Duck Leg with herb Gnocchi, Caramelised Balsamic Pear which to our absolute shock, we loved. We’re not really big fans of duck, but this meat was tender and not gamey at all, and the pear’s sweetness was a perfect accompaniment to the other flavours emanating from this course. Like everything he gave us, this was plate-lickingly good!
We continued to indulge in whatever came our way, and our eyes grew wide with glee when a plate of dessert treats emerged, my favourite being the Crumble Apple & Cinnamon with Caramelised Almonds and Vanilla Gelato. OMG! I was so enamoured of this dish that I only scraped a mouthful or two of other sweet delights that Cooper had quickly devoured while I wasn’t paying attention.
The entire meal wasn’t a meal, but a culinary experience. We tried food we would never have ordered therefore we enjoyed encountering something new! And we left feeling entirely satisfied but not sickly full. It seems Antonio really does know his stuff, not just flavours that will suit one’s mood or even the weather outside, but he understands portions too.
It’s about the experience
The reason this all came about, is because Antonio prides himself on being a master of selecting cuisine he instinctively knows diners will love, but that we wouldn’t order for ourselves. It’s disappointing to him that people miss out on these kinds of experiences, so much so he is now encouraging diners to let he and his team take charge. Don’t worry about decision making – entrust your experience to him, and for a fraction of the price of a traditional degustation menu, anyone can put Antonio’s skills to the test – and you really should, because we bet you’ll be surprised and delighted every time. Drop into Verde, tell Antonio what you or any of your party don’t eat, and he’ll then serve you the best meal of your life. Simple and delicious.
If you’re seeking an authentic Sydney experience and a quality place to dine where Antonio serves up his very own perfect, traditional southern Italian family recipes, we’d encourage you to try Verde. It’s just lovely! There’s a marble bar too, and an extensive wine list; private areas for functions, and many cosy options for you, friends, family and colleagues.
Gastown, Vancouver: it’s an eclectic little area featuring numerous cool boutiques, galleries, bars, cafes, restaurants and chic stores.
As new-comers, we found it difficult to secure a summary of the best choices within the precinct so we decided to compose our own.
It’s pretty simple – if you’re after ambiance, great coffees or cocktails then try one of these splendid establishments.
The best coffee and cocktails in Gastown
375 Water Street
Tweet @SteamworksPub or on FACEBOOK
Our number 1. pick…
In our experience Steamworks offers by far the best service, value and cocktail selection. The food here is delicious, the atmosphere vibrant and we’ve enjoyed a great experience every time.
We met popular Bar Manager, Josh Taylor (pictured), who is evidently well-liked by patrons. He serves up a mean cocktail – all with a friendly smile and helpful service.
We discovered Steamworks has not only the cheapest cocktails in Gastown but possibly the most innovative selection (the menu was redesigned recently, and Josh along with some other staff have carefully created bespoke options like the fab Nothing Rhymes with Orange).
We also tried the delicious Bellinias well as one of their famous locally brewed beers. There are daily drink specials on offer at Steamworks, as well as a ‘Brewer’s Choice Beer of the Day’.
Drinking for a good cause. Back in 2011, Josh designed a special cocktail for the month of Movember, kind of an offshoot of the Dark & Stormy – totally delicious, and a percentage of proceeds from the sale of each was put towards fundraising for Steamworks’ very own Movember crew, Team Happy Fun Ball. Cheers!
THE IRISH HEATHER GASTRO PUB
210 Carrall Street
Tweet @TheIrishHeather or on FACEBOOK
With its comfy, chic interior this place is easy to spend time in. It’s renowned as being the number 1. seller of Guinness in the city (about $7/pint). There’s also fine coffees, cocktails and dining on offer.
131WATER KITCHEN & BAR
131 Water Street
Tweet @131Water or on FACEBOOK
This cosy little bar serves up inexpensive cocktails like the signature classic Bourbon & Sour, as well as a delicious selection that uses 131’s own house-made lemonade – yummy!
THE SALTY TONGUE
212 Carrall Street
These guys know their coffee. If you’re seeking decent menu choices and a sleek coffee stop, take a look inside.
THE BLARNEY STONE
216 Carrall Street
Daily drink and food specials mean this pub is always thriving.
SMART MOUTH CAFE
117-131 Water Street
A favourite local haunt – this place is typically ‘Vancouver cool’ – kick your morning off with a delicious coffee and a quirky quote that is posted on a board outside the store daily.
CHILL WINSTON RESTAURANT & LOUNGE
3 Alexander Street
This gorgeous venue always captures our attention when we’re walking through Gastown. It’s as cool inside as it looks from the outside. Don’t envy those sitting under the (occasional) sun in the street sipping on their cocktails – drop in and enjoy your own, and ask about one of Chill Winston’s signature drinks such as the Spooning Jesus…
Courtyard of 12 Water Street
Tweet @bonetavan or on FACEBOOK
Set within the quaint courtyard of 12 Water Street, Boneta boasts a chic environment, divine yet reasonably priced menu and a selection of delicious coffees and classic cocktails. The open kitchen means you can even watch the chefs do their thang while you sit back and enjoy the surroundings.
MILANO BOUTIQUE COFFEE ROASTERS
36 Powell Street
Fabulous interior and delightful drinks, this coffee house offers a unique concept for enjoying your daily brew.
Have we missed your favourite Gastown coffee and/or cocktails hotspot, or would you like to give a shout-out to your fave that’s listed above? Feel free to share as a ‘comment’ below…
If you’re interested in more stories from this divine part of the world, you might also enjoy:
Heaven is Harrison Hot Springs
The X-Files and Vancouver travel journal
Wonderful Whistler adventures
Discovering Grouse Mountain and Victoria, Vancouver Island