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Henrik Norén: My Stockholm


Chef Henrik Norén is one half of the duo behind Gro, the new Stockholm restaurant that is a foodie favourite thanks to its innovative ways with local vegetables. Formerly with some of the city’s most prestigious eateries, he shares his favourite Stockholm spots with Isabella Redmond Styles

Isabella Redmond Styles
Isabella Redmond Styles,

What’s your favourite area of the city and why?
For a number of reasons my favourite spot is Sankt Eriksplan at Birkastan. I’ve lived here for about 10 years now and in June last year we opened our restaurant Gro here. You can feel the rhythm and pulse of the city at Sankt Eriksplan, yet this area is more laid back than other parts of Stockholm.

It’s close to three major parks and to the water; if you walk for 10 minutes you’ll find green areas where it feels as if you’re far away from the city. That’s great if you have a dog, like me, or if you enjoy foraging for wild, edible things, also like me. In addition there are quite a few shops, boutiques, cafés, pubs and bars around here.

Talk us through the things you most like in the area
I come from the west of the city, near Karlberg station. Growing up, my friends and I spent a lot of time in all the record shops of the area. This was the best place to get indie, alternative, punk, hardcore and metal. Back then there were a lot more record shops (this was in the 1990s), but there are still quite a few around. They are great if you want to find vinyl, new and vintage. My best tips are Record Hunter, The Beat Goes On, Nostalgipalatset and Thrash Palace. They have everything … on vinyl.

There’s also a great grocery store called Cajsa Warg right on Sankt Eriksplan. It sells fantastic local produce. The really good fashion boutiques with smaller, interesting brands have all closed, unfortunately, but Acne Archive on Torsgatan is still around. It’s Acne’s outlet store where they sell clothes and shoes from previous seasons, and prototypes and the like, all for heavily discounted prices.

What’s the most underrated attraction or sight in Stockholm?
One of the most underrated places in the whole of Stockholm is the small park by the water in front of Karlbergs slott, an old military castle. It’s just a five-minute walk from Rörstrandsgatan, the main street in Birkastan.

Follow a tunnel under the railway track and a bridge over a road and you will find a charming grass area by the canal. Bring some snacks and a bottle of wine and spend a whole spring, summer or early autumn day here. You can take a swim in the canal in the summer.

If you’d prefer something more lively, head to the area under Sankt Eriksbron (or Sankt Eriks bridge). With its graffiti and street art it looks like something out of Brooklyn in the 1980s, and there are sometimes really cool festivals there.

Is there a café or bar that you go to regularly – and what do you like about it?There are a lot of cafés in Birkastan. After all, Swedes are the second greatest coffee consumers in the world. All along Rörstrandsgatan you will find cafés, and a few on Sankt Eriksgatan and Sankt Eriksplan. My favourites include Mellqvist Kaffebar on Rörstrandsgatan, which has great coffee and delicious sandwiches as well as pastries, juices and other good stuff.

It has been around for quite some time and it never disappoints. I also like Café Seg 70, Seg being short for Sankt Eriksgatan. It’s just across the street from Gro, and it’s really a hole-in-the wall café that serves great coffee and a few bites. It attracts lots of hipsters.

We serve a lot of natural wines at Gro but I also like Erlands, which is a really cosy cocktail bar that serves a great glass of natural wine.

Where do you take out-of-town friends who are visiting the city?
I take them for a walk around this area. For coffee or a snack we go to Strömmingsvagnen, literally ‘the herring wagon’, herrings being the only true Stockholm street food. Then I take them to dinner at one of the city’s great restaurants such as Volt, Speceriet, Ekstedt, Oaxen Krog & Slip, Shibumi and Spritmuseum.

What’s your favourite walk in the city?
I love walking from Karlberg to Solna strand, or around Kungsholmen and Djurgården.

What’s your best view in the city?
From Västerbron bridge or the hill in Observatorielunden.

Where do you go and what to you do to relax in the city on days off?
Days off? I’m a chef! But seriously, I try to get out of the city into the woods and countryside with my wife and my dog.

Are there any hidden spots you don’t want out-of-towners to know about?
My latest local discovery is where to forage for woodruff, the wild herb.

What is the best kept local secret?
The skatepark in Kristineberg, and Byn crêperie.

What one insider tip would you offer for exploring your city?
There are bikes to rent all around the city. You buy a card, pick up a bike and leave it at one of several special stands. It’s a great way to get around. Or take one of the ferries out to the Stockholm archipelago, which is beautiful.

What is your favourite way to get around the city?
Skateboard or walking.

Gro, Sankt Eriksgatan 67, 113 32 Stockholm, +46 (0)8 643 4222

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