Pelikan, Stockholm

Blekingegatan 40, 116 62 Stockholm, Sweden

We arrived

… on a freezing night in the middle of November, the month Swedes hate the most because of its darkness and coldness and lack of snow, which typically doesn't arrive until later in the season. Arriving into the relief of a warm, bright restaurant would have been joy enough, even without the promise of food.

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We chose here because… it's an authentic piece of Sweden, serving traditional fare like meatballs, salted herring and reindeer, and also because it's beloved by the city's cultured crowd, made literarily famous by world-leading author and cynic Karl Ove Knausgaard who, despite being Norwegian, and generally hating Stockholm, enjoyed regular meals here with a close friend. He liked the meatballs.

Our first impression was… that we'd just stepped back in time, taking a hundred or so local hipsters with us. The high-ceilinged beer hall probably looked and felt exactly like this 100 years ago. Our waiter may also have been working there then.

The interior of the Pelikan. Photo / Instagram
The interior of the Pelikan. Photo / Instagram

We started with

… a pretentiously named IPA, which the waiter verified as an excellent choice, as all waiters in inner-city media/culture/creative suburbs anywhere in the world are morally obliged to do. Food-wise, I began with a tomato salad, which was exactly as boring as it sounds, but enormous.

The highlight of the night was… the roasted reindeer. It didn't taste like Christmas, exactly, but it was definitely a nice surprise - more tender and less gamey than I expected. There was something special about eating it in that environment too, a packed beer hall-style restaurant, the patrons rowdy and excitable, the wait staff authoritative, ironically officious, and sly.

Come here if… you want to feel like you're really part of Stockholm's beating creative heart.

The bill… was relatively unremarkable by Stockholm standards. The reindeer, by far the most expensive thing on the menu, clocked in at about NZD$55 but you could pick up the signature massive meatballs for about $30.

The meatballs at Pelikan. Photo / Instagram
The meatballs at Pelikan. Photo / Instagram