If you’ve heard of Are, Sweden, you’re either a winter sports fan or a passionate foodie. That’s because this town, about 400 miles north of Stockholm, is the country’s premier ski destination, as well as the gateway to Faviken, the widely celebrated restaurant from chef Magnus Nilsson.
Tucked away in a family hunting lodge far from town, Faviken has always benefited from its remote, near-Narnian setting. But now Nilsson has opened a trio of Are (pronounced OOR-eh) establishments, intended to make his relentlessly local ethos more accessible. The restaurant Uvisan, the cocktail bar Svartklubb and the cafe and bakery Krus all occupy the same space; a rotating placard is the only outward sign of their daily transformation.
“We had so many guests who wanted to stay a second night in Are and asked for recommendations,” Nilsson said. Though labeled pop-ups, both the bar and bakery are permanent, while the dinner concept changes seasonally. The pop-ups give Faviken’s pool of talented sous chefs the chance “to take more responsibility, develop and be creative,” Nilsson said. (Last summer it was Hoon’s Chinese, with Singaporean chef Ethel Hoon running the kitchen. The current concept will rotate out again in May or June, depending on when they feel it’s time for a new one.)
At Uvisan in late December, as at Faviken, the meal started with a quick succession of single-bite wonders. Delicate shiso leaves were glazed with a crystalline layer of tempura, while a tiny pot of creamy mushroom chawanmushi (egg custard) was sophisticated in its simplicity, like an adult memory of a beloved childhood dish. Faviken favorites made appearances, as well, including an appetizer of king crab (improbably but satisfyingly daubed with a roasted hazelnut sauce reminiscent of savory Nutella) and a tiny dish of gyoza filled with succulent pieces of dairy cow.
Lastly, a pot of mirin-and-soy-based broth was set bubbling over a flame, to which diners added veggies, mushrooms and paper-thin slices of moose shoulder dipped in raw egg yolk and aged soy. Handmade udon were then swished around the pot to extract flavor, and each diner was handed a microplane and invited to grate the fragrant zest of a yuzu onto the chewy noodles.
This take on Japanese home cooking is the work of Uvis Janicenko, a Latvian chef who spent two years in Japan before joining the Faviken team. (“Uvisan” is a composite of his first name and the Japanese honorific “san.”) “I used some of the classic Japanese dishes but adapted the flavor [to] local ingredients,” he said. “Japanese cuisine is very pure and clean in flavors that are close to me, so it comes naturally.” All the same, Nilsson’s hallmarks abound: Beds of forest moss, modest wooden spoons and whimsical dishware suggest a woodsy fairy tale. Sweet flavors slip easily into the savory realm, savory into the sweet.
After two nightly seatings, the space transforms into Svartklubb, serving drinks like gin with “forest tonic” and fermented milk known as fjallfil, chilled into a slushy and laced with a liqueur of dill and fennel.
Before first light (around 9:30 a.m. in December), the cocktail bar becomes a bakery, serving traditional Swedish saffron buns, floury sourdough loaves, thumbprint cookies and crisp Pepparkaka gingerbread biscuits. The menu at Krus is like an a la carte version of Faviken’s indulgent breakfast, including marbled charcuterie from Nilsson’s butcher shop in the nearby town of Undersaker, soft-boiled eggs with chilled cod roe, and delicate, freshly made yogurt.
Up here this time of year, when the sun’s late rise is followed closely by an early but glorious sunset, it’s enough to get you out of bed in the morning.
Uvisan, Torggränd 2B. A set menu for two, without drinks or tip, is 1,300 Swedish kroner, about $160.