F12 is the flagship of the ever expanding restaurant group owned by Melker Andersson and Danyel Couet. Of the seven restaurants in Stockholm, which today hold at least one Michelin star, F12 is the restaurant which has been decorated for the longest period of time (since 1997). Melker Andersson, together with Mathias Dahlgren, opened F12 in 1994, (back then the restaurant went under the name Fredsgatan 12, which is also its address). Mathias Dahlgren left shortly to open his own restaurant Bon Lloc in 1996. For many years Fredsgatan 12 was, at least as far as I have understood, one of the hottest and most innovative restaurants in Sweden. But times have changed. Today not many foodies would describe F12 as a cutting edge-restaurant. In part that’s because not many foodies visit F12 today. At least not the foodies who are active on Twitter and other social medias.
I have had three dinners and a couple of lunches at F12 during a period of about seven years. The lunches have been quite good but unfortunately I cannot say the same about the dinners. My dinner in march last year was a big disappointment despite very low expectations. Several of the dishes that night were unbalanced. It was simply not Michelin star level cooking. You can read my review in Swedish by clicking on the link here. After that dinner I wasn’t exactly eager to go back. But when I read that F12 had a lunch option in form of four courses from its evening tasting menu for 520 SEK (about € 60 or $ 80) I thought I should give it try.
Before the first course we were served some bread, which was fine but not on par with the best bread in town. We did not get any snacks.
DUCK LIVER – chrysanthemum, white vineyard peach
A duck liver terrine with a purée of vineyard peaches from Provence and cubes of the same peaches. Next to the foie gras were some crumbles with dried peaches. The terrine was well made and the combination with the peach was very good. The crumbles added nice crispiness to the other creamy components of the dish. Maybe the peach was a bit week in flavor in order to perfectly balance the richness of the foie gras. Despite that it was a very good dish.
A turbot with some slow cooked pigs feet, truffle crème and a parsley sauce. The turbot, cooked perfectly, was very good. The turbot had been carefully cut open to create a “pocket” in which small pieces of the pigs feet were put. The theory behind the combination was that, according to the waiter, the pigs feet consist of the same type of fat as the turbot and that the fat therefore would enhance the flavour of the turbot. I have to say that the turbot was very flavourful but I still do not really understand the theory of the pigs fat enhancing the flavor of the fish. A person in the restaurant business, which I trust more than the staff at F12, told me after the lunch that a turbot does not carry the same type of fat as a pigs foot. If you know more about this please leave a comment below. The parsley sauce was quite weak in flavour and the truffle crème totally lacked flavour. The truffle therefore was pointless. Even if I do not understand the similar fat-theory I have to say that this was a very good dish, though the parsley sauce was quite bland and the truffles totally lacked flavour.
Veal in three ways with a lobster. The sirloin which had been rolled in ash, a slow cooked cheek and finally the tongue, diced and fried. Three different types of asparagus, white, green and wild asparagus from Provence. The two farmed asparagus were ok, but the wild ones were basically flavourless. Tableside the waiter put a very sad Canadian lobster on the plate and poured over a melted lemon butter which was presented as “magical”. Finally a tomato flavored sauce based on veal stock which tasted like canned minestrone soup was added to the plate.
With this dish F12 totally lost me. Looking back, the word that best describes the dish is “qué” (remember Manuel in the seventies sitcom Fawlty Towers). There are several things that I do not understand. First, why did the kitchen think it was a good idea to add a sad lobster to the three different cuts of veal and three types of asparagus? There were already enough ingredients on the plate. The adding of a lobster made no sense at all when it was of such inferior quality. It was very rubbery. Second, why were there so many different ingredients? It was more like a smörgåsbord than a dish. I also do not understand why the lemon butter was presented as magical. To present an ordinary lemon butter as magical is just silly. Furthermore I do not understand why the lobster and veal tongue were put on the plate by the waiter after the plate, with the other components, had been put on our table. Why couldn’t the kitchen put all the components of the dish on the plate? Did they think it made the dish more special in some way? This is not like carving a duck tableside.
RASPBERRY & APRICOT- vanilla, almond
Raspberry sorbet with, crumbles, poached apricots, almond cream and meringue stick. The sorbet, made of farmed raspberries, was ok but not perfect in texture. Flavourwise it lacked the intensity that a really good raspberry sorbet has. The cooked apricots were fine and a good match with the almond cream. I might sound a little bit negative here but this was not bad at all. It was not extraordinary but it was a very yummy dessert.
Last year I did not think F12 was worth its star. Now I think it is. There’s absolutely nothing special about F12:s cooking (given the type of restaurant I review, of course). The food is good but rather anonymous. However it is based on decent produce (some good some inferior), which are mostly cooked well. The dishes are now better balanced than last year. In sum, solid one Michelin star cooking.
The ambiance in the dining room is rather stiff. Apart from me and my lunch companion, there were a maximum of two other guests that paied with their private credit cards. The rest of the crowd all seemed to be bankers and lawyers on business lunches. Of course that had an effect on the ambiance in the dining room. This is no jovial place. I might go back for another four course lunch, but I will most likely not return for dinner. There are so many other restaurants in Stockholm that is way better on all levels than F12.