Fashionable restaurants usually attract a young clientele, and the trendiest places sometimes have a rather stark decor and extremely high noise levels. If you are looking for somewhere quieter, which also has good service, it is often best to choose an established restaurant.
There are many specialist restaurants serving cuisine from abroad, or cross-over cooking, which is a combination of styles.
Most restaurants charge roughly the same prices, regardless of quality. If you are looking for somewhere cheaper to eat, there are pizzerias, pubs, kebab houses, sushi bars, fast food chains and cafes to choose from.
Those with a sweet tooth shouldn’t miss a visit to one of the many modern cafes or traditional cake shops which offer delicious Danish pastries, cinnamon buns, cakes and gateaux.
There are few bars as such and the best can be found at the most popular restaurants. Dress is usually informal, even at the more elegant restaurants. Ties are not required but shorts are not acceptable. Most restaurants have a no-smoking section and Government legislation is proposing a total ban on smoking in restaurants.
The majority of restaurants open for lunch at 11.30am and close at around 10pm. Dinner is served from 6pm or even earlier. A number of restaurants are closed on Sundays or Mondays. Smaller restaurants may close for their annual holiday during July.
Prices for lunch are often extremely reasonable, even at the more elegant establishments, so lunchtime is an ideal opportunity to enjoy an inexpensive meal at a pleasant restaurant. Dagens lunch (Lunch of the Day) is generally not served after 2pm, even if the restaurant is open in the afternoon.
A number of restaurants and pubs serve food right up to midnight or even later, particularly those which provide entertainment, music
Magnificent interior of Cafe Opera in Stockholm
Outdoor cafe in Riddarhustorget in Gamla Stan, Stockholm or a disco. Anyone still hungry during the night can find hot-dog kiosks which stay open very late, sometimes even round the clock.
Interest in vegetarian food is increasing in Sweden, and this is reflected by the fact that excellent vegetarian cuisine is now served at most restaurants. There are also several completely vegetarian restaurants in the major cities.
Booking a Table
Reservations should be made for evening meals, but many restaurants do not accept bookings for lunch. If you want to be sure of a table at midday, it is best to arrive at the restaurant before
11.30am or after 1pm, by which time most of the lunchtime clientele will have left.
All children are welcome in restaurants without exception. They will usually be offered a special children’s menu, or half portions from the normal menu. Almost all restaurants have highchairs.
Prices of meals in Sweden are very similar. At most places hot dishes cost from about 100 kr, or 200 kr or more at expensive restaurants.
Lunch prices are around 60-70 kr, and that often includes a non-alcoholic drink and coffee. However, the
price of beer, wine and other alcoholic drinks can vary considerably. It generally follows that the more expensive the restaurant, the higher the price of the wine. The house wine is usually the cheapest, with a bottle normally costing from 150 kr. Beer is cheaper in pubs than in restaurants. Tap water is free of charge, and Sweden’s drinking water is of excellent quality.
Tips are always included in the price, but if you want to reward good service you can round up the bill. If the restaurant has a manned cloakroom, the normal price is 10 kr per person. A number of restaurants do not allow guests to take outdoor clothing into the dining room. Credit cards are accepted in virtually every restaurant.
Reading the Menu
Dinner at a Swedish restaurant usually includes a starter (forratt), hot main course (varmratt) and dessert (efterratt). Most offer one or more fixed-price meals with a choice of two or three dishes at a lower price than the a la carte menu. It is perfectly acceptable to have just a starter or main course. At lunchtime most people order only one course. The meal is nearly always served on the plate, but the more elegant restaurants often have dessert or
cheese trolleys. Many restaurants have menus in English; if they don’t, the waiters and waitresses are usually familiar with English and will be pleased to explain the menu to you.
Some restaurants serve a typical Swedish smorgasbord, usually on Sundays. Some specialize in a fish or shellfish buffet. During December a Julbord is usually available. This is similar to the normal smorgasbord, but with a lavish buffet selection of traditional seasonal dishes. You can eat as much as you like at a fixed price, but drinks are not included.
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