Niklas Ekstedt has brought the concept behind his eponymous Michelin-starred restaurant to Scotland Yard Hotel in Westminster. For those who aren’t familiar with the Swedish chef’s work, Ekstedt’s ethos is focused around open-fire cooking with a focus on Scandinavian techniques. It's been done before in London, but Ekstedt's offering feels totally unique.
This is a restaurant that’s practically exploding with warmth - in every sense of the word. Interiors-wise, the dining room feels like a wintry grotto awash with a sea of amber tones, from wooden furnishings to exposed brick walls, tan leather booths and golden lighting. Then, there’s the general temperature, which teeters slightly above toasty thanks to a ginormous wood-fuelled oven and roaring fire pit located to one end of the room. The motif continues with the service, which is friendly and understated in an approachable way. Even our cocktails are a beautiful bronze colour and imbued with the heady sweetness of amaretto.
Traditional techniques such as smoking, pickling and fermenting are used to some degree in every dish. On paper, one might find the food unfamiliar and a little unnerving, but any suspicions are sure to evaporate after the first bite. Things begin with smoky pieces of jerky-like reindeer, thin shavings of pickled salsify, and spongy sourdough served with gooey butter, plus a whey and pine oil dip. All are very good. Next, earthy, ember-baked trout is paired with soft, pickled shallots, salty vendace roe and a crème fraiche-like charcoal cream which is tangy and rich. Elsewhere, juniper-smoked halibut arrives swimming in seaweed butter, while a wood-oven baked Alaska is finished at the table by setting a spoon of aquavit alight and brandishing it over the pudding. It’s harsh with booze and engulfed in a marshmallow-like layer of meringue that tastes just like it's been freshly toasted on a campfire.
Ekstedt delights in its unorthodoxy and, while it won’t necessarily be for everyone, takes guests on an experiential journey of new flavours, pioneering techniques and theatrical embellishments.