Review: Midsummer Menu at Ekstedt at The Yard
by Olivia Emily
UK based foodies: what does ‘midsummer’ evoke for you? Strawberries and other summer berries, perhaps. Maybe even al-fresco dining. In Sweden, ‘Midsummer is a time for fun and festivities,’ says Niklas Ekstedt, renowned Swedish chef, ‘with family and friends coming together to feast on some of our favourite dishes using the abundance of produce the new season brings.’ Until 29th July, Ekstedt at The Yard – situated in Great Scotland Yard Hotel – is serving a six-course tasting menu, showcasing Sweden’s favourite midsummer flavours. Olivia Emily sampled the goods…
Review: Midsummer Menu, Ekstedt at The Yard
Tucked into a corner at the Great Scotland Yard Hotel is a tree stump adorned with masses of dried flowers and branches: growing up against the tree, sat atop the stump in a burgundy jug, creeping up around a doorframe (where moodier purples give way to brighter pinks). It’s incongruous with the sleek surrounds of the five-star luxury hotel you slip through to get there. To the left of the tree stump, a wooden table bears burn marks, empty oyster shells, chopped wood and jars of pickled vegetables.
But through that door – that the flowers, growing up and around, seem to direct you towards – the sleek marbled floor of the Great Scotland Yard Hotel becomes chevrons of neutral wood. A wooden altar stands in the middle, and a smiling host welcomes us inside: Ekstedt at The Yard, Niklas Ekstedt’s first restaurant outside of Sweden.
If you’re familiar with the 2019 film, Midsommar, don’t worry: the comparisons end at the festival being celebrated. Midsummer, in Sweden, celebrates the summer solstice with festivities, like dancing around a maypole and decorating things with greenery. Hence those flowers: as we turn to our table, more dried flowers appear. There’s a bunch in a small porcelain jug on the table, accompanied by candles in oyster shells. There’s more flowers adorning the room, culminating in a big flower crown inaugurating a light in the centre of the ceiling.
Luckily, it doesn’t feel like too much, and it’s not taken too seriously (Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s ‘Murder on the Dancefloor’ is one of many 90s/00s classics that floats through the speakers). Rather, the more neutral tones that come with dried flowers blend seamlessly with the rest of the neutral wood decor. And, when the food arrives it has its own touches of nature, too.
EAT & DRINK
It all starts with a snack tray, with playful nods to the environment: wooden serving dishes, a golden leaf, a mossy platform for two mussels. Seafood and pickling are introduced here, ready for a lengthy (but welcome) performance. The next dish, ‘S.O.S’ – or, ‘smör, ost och sill’, meaning ‘butter, cheese and herring’ – continues the trend, but leans further into Swedish tradition. Three bite-sized morsels are delicately arranged on the plate, representing the three butter-cheese-herring elements, a refined take on the much-loved Swedish classic. With a paired wine from the friendly sommelier to accompany, the dish is delightfully sharp.
Smoking and pickling techniques are at the heart of the menu: beef tartare, horseradish and pickles follows the S.O.S – elevated by a crisp red wine pairing – before juniper-smoked trout concludes the savoury offerings. Both are simple dishes done exceptionally well, with unique twists and touches of nature (fennel crisp bread with the beef tartar, sea lettuce with the trout).
The first desert, woodruff mouse, is a refreshing turn toward sweetness, representing Sweden’s love of foraging. Then, enter Ekstedt’s beloved wood fire – oven baked meringue, with sharp, fresh and sweet summer berries – to conclude the tasting menu, a light delight deepened by a subtle fiery smokiness.
The six-course Midsummer Menu (£100) and wine pairing (£80) or non-alcoholic pairing (£45) at Ekstedt at The Yard will be available from 20 June – 29th July and must be pre-booked. Visit on Sunday 31 July for a special Midsummer Afternoon Tea experience – booking is essential. The usual tasting menu (£135) and wine pairing (£80) or non-alcoholic pairing (£45) changes seasonally, but is available year-round. ekstedtattheyard.com
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