Restaurant Essence – for people who are serious about food
By Signe Hansen | Photos: Essence
If you are looking for a well-done steak or a cheesy pizza, Restaurant Essence in Stockholm is not the place to go. If, on the other hand, you take food seriously; love lobster, caviar, and tatar steak, this hugely popular new addition to the Swedish capital’s food scene, is sure to provide you with a night full of culinary surprises and delights.
“We are a restaurant purely for people interested in food. People don’t come here just because they are hungry,” says Stefan Taylor, the Scottish chef and restauranteur behind Essence. At his restaurant, all the food is cooked by him and his co-chef behind the counter where guests are seated. This means curious foodies can watch the food preparation, ask questions, and look at the ingredients. “It’s very interactive, we present a lot and show them things. For people with a real interest in food, that’s very cool – they ask a lot of questions, and it’s not unusual for people to leave with a recipe written down on their receipt,” Taylor explains.
When you first enter Essence, you will be invited to take a seat in the restaurant’s stylish lounge to enjoy your amuse-bouche and an aperitif. Afterwards, all guests (the restaurant has 12 seats) are served a set, daily changing 15-course menu at the same time. This maintains the surprise element of the next course, but also transforms the dinner experience into “more than just having a meal. It’s more like a shared activity,” says Taylor.
Hugely successful, Taylor developed the concept for his restaurant partly due to necessity as he wanted to open his own place but did not have the resources to hire staff. The concept originated in Taylor’s first venture, a pop-up restaurant in Västerås. “I built the counter around the kitchen so that I could serve everyone myself. Now, things are going well, so I have been able to hire people, but I am always there. Without me, the restaurant doesn’t open”.
Not only is Taylor behind everything that happens in the restaurant, but when he took over its current venue in Kungsholmen, Stockholm, he also did all the carpentry himself. The result is a warm, stylish, and welcoming interior that well fulfills the host’s intention that visiting Essence “should almost feel like coming home to someone you know”.
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