Sweden has been making headlines around the world for their reluctance to socially distance and surprising success at combating covid-19. After the long Scandinavian winter Swedes are determined to enjoy their restaurants and cafe culture, in spite of stringent health measures in place.
This 'have-your-cake-and-eat-it' strategy of fighting coronavirus is unique to urban Sweden, however in more rural areas distancing measures are being taken to the other extreme.
One Swedish restaurant in the town of Ransäter has created a spectacularly scenic ( and sanitary) seating plan. It's dinner for one – and only one – at the "Bord för En".
Run by couple Linda Karlsson and Rasmus Persson, they said they came up with the concept when they had a guest turn up without a reservation. "We refused to let them come inside," the couple told Atlas Obscura, explaining Karlsson's elderly parents were visiting at the time. They did not want her parents – both in their 70s – to come into contact with strangers, but they also couldn't turn the guest away.
So, they ended up placing a chair and table in the meadow outside and served the guest through the kitchen window.
To the couple's surprise, the guest was not put off. In fact, there's now a queue of diners waiting to reserve the table – one at a time.
The menu is Swedish-vegetarian and doesn't change throughout the day.
Reservations are available between 10am and 10.45, and a three-course meal is delivered in a picnic basket via zipline from their window. When the guest is finished, they must clear their plate into buckets under the table and ring a bell for the next course.
"We can't travel, but to me, food has always been a travel in a sense," Rasmus said in an interview with Atlas Obscura. He always wanted to be a travel agent and he has themed each dish around places he's been on his journeys.
Swedish råraka hash browns are a staple, along with kelp caviar inspired by his time cooking in Barcelona kitchens. If you're lucky you might get a tipple of the house gin.
As there is no table service, the bill is settled in an honesty box. Diners can pay what they like for the meal – as Linda and Rasmus acknowledge these are hard times and they don't want anyone to miss out because of price point.
The couple say they have had reservations from around Sweden and as far afield as Japan. One imagines the Japanese guests will have built a healthy appetite after waiting for travel restrictions to lift.