Malmö is a sprawling, multicultural city, which can offer a surprising number of different food cultures for its size. We asked Måns Renntun, local foodie and freelance journalist, to guide us through the hotspots of culinary Malmö:
Understanding Malmö as a culinary destination requires both dinner at raw, innovative Bastard and a visit to the falafel stand in the centre of Rosengård.
It was from this exact falafel stand that the Iskandarani family served up the very first falafels in Malmö. Today their chain Falafel N1 can be found everywhere and falafels have become Malmö’s answer to hot dogs.
Malmö’s proximity to Copenhagen means that both chefs and diners cross the Öresund, resulting in influences travelling in both directions. Add to that the fact that one third of Malmö’s population has a foreign background and the result is a multifaceted dining scene that other cities of Malmö’s size can only dream of.
Tempting nose to tail cooking
Bastard is one of the most talked-about restaurants right now. In the open kitchen of this large establishment just behind Lilla torg you can witness some of Malmö’s most extreme cookery courtesy of tattooed chef Andreas Dahlberg. Although if you tell him this, he will most likely simply look at you in disbelief. Using every part of the animal is something he sees as the most natural thing in the world.
This raw trend also made its mark when classic restaurant Sturehof (after a few years as Vendel at Sturehof) changed its name to Sture and began serving Skåne steaks on wooden platters. The wooden table at the back of the premises is known as the “slaughterhouse” and alongside hang joints of meat in display cases, in their raw state and lit by cold fluorescent light.
Restaurang Rebell is one of the challengers in Malmö. These young restaurateurs serve fish n’ chips in their own style and the restaurant on Friisgatan is often packed out.
Fine dining establishments choose new approach
When, after a decade as a fine dining restaurateur at Atmosfär, Henrik Regnér made an abrupt change of direction and tossed out the tasting menus in favour of a tapas-style menu, he instigated a similar revolution to that subsequently implemented by Anders Vendel at Sture.
Tareq Taylor, known today from successful SVT series Trädgårdsfredag, previously ran gourmet restaurant Trappaner on Gamla Väster. However, Tareq tired of running a fine dining establishment, and you can now find him at the charming Slottsträdgården café in Slottsparken. Here Malmö residents can enjoy a bowl of soup under a garden umbrella on early spring days.
Tareq’s former premises are now home to the Vollmer brothers, with their restaurant of the same name. Their concept is to offer diners a modern inn specialising in raw ingredients from Skåne, Scandinavia and Europe.
A short distance away on Davidshall, not far from Atmosfär, is perhaps the city’s most traditional Skåne restaurant: Mrs Brown serves Skåne “fine food”.
After a few years as a sous chef at Noma in Copenhagen, Robert Jacobsson wanted to open his own restaurant. He joined forces with Besnik Gashi and opened B.A.R. (natural restaurant & wine bar) in Malmö at the end of 2012. It immediately proved to be one of the most lauded restaurant openings in Malmö thanks to the elegant presentation focusing on the basic flavours of the raw ingredients. Wine bar at street level and dining room in the cellar on a street off Davidshallstorg.
Future mecca for diners
While Davidshall has been known for several years for its interior design stores, cafés and trendy restaurants, the district around Sankt Knuts torg has remained a more unexploited dining destination. Certainly it has its small, trendy stores and cafés where locals, students and cultural workers gather on Saturday afternoons, but restaurants with ambitions were notable by their absence until Pontus Johansson, who won Silver in the sushi world championships, opened Japanese restaurant Saik? in autumn 2010. Sushi with elements of Skåne, such as sea buckthorn, complemented by a menu of small Japanese dishes, “japas”. It was an immediate smash hit.
One of the most ambitious ethnic restaurants in Malmö is Chinese restaurant Kin Long. As the city’s oldest Chinese restaurant they soon dropped beef with bamboo shoots in favour of serving jellyfish salad, Peking duck and three-cup chicken. And still on the subject of Chinese: one well-kept Malmö secret is the dim sum menu (Chinese small dishes) served at lunchtime on Saturdays and Sundays at China Garden in Möllevångstorget.
Elegant restaurant Occo serving Lebanese dishes recently opened in another of Malmö’s squares, Drottningtorget.
One foot on the continent
The streets around Möllevångstorget are filled with oriental aromas escaping from the small, ethnic food shops. Service at the Vietnamese restaurant Asien can sometimes be a little gruff, but this is outweighed by the delight of getting to chop fresh herbs into your noodle soup. Don’t miss the tamarind soup and fresh spring rolls.
Möllevångstorget itself is overflowing with pubs and on the other side of Bergsgatan is the so-called restaurant triangle, with Skolgatan’s Ölkafé, a regular haunt for all Malmö FF supporters before and after matches, Belle Epoque, whose slightly younger clientèle spontaneously get up and dance on the white wooden floors, and restaurant Möllan, where journalists in corduroy jackets drink Czech lager. Tempo can also be found here. In a fifties-inspired setting, restaurateur and artist Roger Johansson has created a personal restaurant that has been combining a high gastronomic standard, relatively low prices and a positive reputation for over 15 years.
The Tempo team opened Grand Öl & Mat in a backyard off Möllevången in 2012. Large, noisy and decked out in fifties style right down to the smallest detail. It’s not the easiest place to find, but once you enter the yard you’re bound to encounter a queue snaking down the steps.
Carib Kreol on Claesgatan, a few hundred metres from Möllevångstorget,has long been a constantly packed, noisy and delightful spot with its Caribbean food and exotic drinks. On the other side of the street, the same team have opened Söder om Småland, a bar serving microbrewery ale from casks to Möllan’s ale connoisseurs.
Another individual restaurant is Bloom in the Park in Pildammsparken, where innovative dishes are served in a mountain-lodge-type setting. Head chef Titti Qvarnström is one of Malmö’s hottest chefs and, together with eccentric waiter Igi Vidal, she makes a visit to Bloom a memorable experience.
Casual Street Food on Spångatan offers possibly the best hamburgers in Malmö.
The “old” guard
Yet while applauding the new restaurateurs moving Malmö’s dining scene forward and putting the city on the culinary map, we mustn’t forget the pioneers. In 2010 Vilhelm and Marie Pieplow’s restaurant Årstiderna celebrated 30 years in business. Over all those years the restaurant has maintained a constant presence among the top establishments in Sweden thanks to hands-on cooking with a special focus on asparagus and goose.Photo: Oskar Falck
And if you ask Vilhelm, he’ll tell you that he was doing seasonal cooking long before it became a fashionable concept.
Another Malmö classic, Brogatan, changed ownership, after several decades, at the beginning of 2013 and was renamed Gamla Brogatan. Skåne ingredients with a French twist in one of Malmö’s most charming dining venues.
Crowds at the bar
Since the early 1990s the bar scene in Malmö has revolved around Lilla torg. Open-air cafés occupy large areas of the square from April to October, and practically every building houses a restaurant or bar. Don’t miss koi yakisoba (fried noodles with entrecôte) at Izakaya Koi, which was one of the country’s first modern Japanese restaurants when it opened in 1993.
When the Marriott hotel chain opened its Renaissance Malmö Hotel in Lilla torg, Saluhallen (The Market Hall) disappeared, but Johan P fick, possibly Malmö’s finest fish restaurant, remained. One of the most popular fast-food venues at Saluhallen, Hemma hos Greken, reappeared after a while a few hundred metres away on Gamla Väster, and Elefterios Papadopoulos is once again serving his lentil soup and casseroles.
When Malmö was transformed from an industrial city into a city of knowledge in the 1990s, a brand new city district sprang up in Western Harbour, which was previously dominated by Kockums shipyard and the SAAB factory. The Turning Torso now towers aloft here instead, and further along Sundspromenaden locals throng the open-air cafés when the weather is fine. Restaurants such as Årstiderna by THE SEA (Årstiderna’s sister restaurant which focuses on fish) and DOC Italiano have created a budding mecca for diners at new Dockplatsen, which many hope may become the next hot spot in Malmö’s culinary scene.
Ola Rudin and Sebastian Persson, two thirds of the team behind celebrated Trio which closed a few years ago, have opened Saltimporten Canteen in the former salt import warehouse at Hullkajen out at the harbour. First-rate lunches in a rustic setting. Minimal raw ingredients cooked to perfection.
Brewing and coffee beans
Aided by contributions from fellow enthusiasts, Anders Hansson was able to realise his dream of opening his own brewery. The result was Malmö Brygghus on Bergsgatan and locals can now sample its five varieties around the brewing vats on three floors.
Amidst the exclusive Danish fashion stores on Baltzarsgatan you will find congenial coffee house Lilla Kafferosteriet. The best beans from around the world are roasted and served in this establishment dating from the 16th century.
Solde Kaffebar, slightly further afield, offers a familiar atmosphere, and servers Johan and Jonas (they refuse to be called baristas) are sure to remember after just your second visit exactly how you take your coffee. They also have a coffee-roasting business in Frihamnen and their beans are now sold to some of the hottest restaurants in Europe.
But now we’re back to where we started. In December 2010, Falafel N1 opened another restaurant. Laziza serves a Lebanese buffet to lunchtime diners in the city.
By Måns Renntun, freelance journalist and reporter at Magasinet Skåne. Måns has written about Malmö’s restaurants for publications such as Nöjesguiden, Kvällsposten, Allt om Malmö and Punkt SE. Works with digital media at Region Skåne.