Food & wine
Michelin-starred Bhoga – Unpretentious gourmet food from Swedish farms
No white tablecloths, no fierce flames or yelling in the kitchen, and no dress code – come in your shorts if you like. Only local produce. For this, two chef friends have been awarded two Michelin stars, one regular and one green.
"I'm Gustav, and that's Niclas."
Gustav laughs as he introduces his friend and colleague of 11 years. The door is wide open, and we head straight into Bhoga's kitchen in Norra Hamngatan, in the middle of Gothenburg city centre.
Chefs Gustav Knutsson and Niclas Yngvesson bring out some asparagus, turn on the oven and roll out dough. They work rhythmically and quickly, keeping eye contact. Making 20 portions of brioche almost happens on autopilot.
"Look at how thin the asparagus is. That's because it's so dry this year. It's normally three times as big," says Niclas said, holding up a bunch.
"Yes, a lot of people think, 'look, small asparagus, how nice', but that's not the case."
Affordable Michelin-starred restaurant
This is Bhoga's complete philosophy: only use local vegetables and produce that are fresh. Well-functioning agriculture and good farming are important to Niclas and Gustav.
The menu includes almost only greens and ingredients from Sweden - from fresh small potatoes, Swedish strawberries, rhubarb, and kale to halibut, turbot and more. This is also the reason why the Michelin-starred restaurant manages to keep its prices down and maintain its reputation as one of the city's best and most unpretentious and laid-back eateries.
The venue has a minimalist, Scandinavian style. The tables are made of light wood, and there are no white tablecloths.
Photos of herbs and flowers hang on the walls, and wildflowers in small pots are used as decoration. It's fine dining, yet it's totally acceptable to sit down at your table here in shorts.
Restaurants in Gothenburg
Although Sweden's second largest city is best known for its Liseberg amusement park, Volvo, and archipelago, Gothenburg has in recent years become renowned for its culinary scene too. There is a strong focus on seafood and sustainability, and the city boasts as many as six Michelin-starred restaurants.
You can also get exciting dining experiences in one of the city centre's many food trucks, or in its pubs that focus on everything from fermentation to craft beer and fries.
But now back to Gustav and Niclas.
They run the only restaurant in Gothenburg with both a Michelin star and a Michelin Green Star. However, the two chefs take their success in their stride. They are proud and thrilled by the recognition. They wish to use their achievements to continue to do well. No one is craving a second star.
"When it comes to the Green Star, we didn't think that much about sustainability at first. It's about everything being durable, i.e., finances, personnel, ingredients, and suppliers. It is difficult for us not to work in a way that is consistently sustainable, and we also believe that things should also be that way for everyone who visits Bhoga, including in our private lives, since we both have families and children," says Niclas.
– Incredibly nice
The dynamic between the two owners is clearly good. They brag about each other, smile and laugh. The kitchen is surprisingly quiet, even though it is only four hours until the doors open, and guests are set to enjoy a 5, 7, or 9-course menu. Gustav is in charge of all the food, while Niclas takes care of the practical details and the business side.
"It works best like that. Gustav is clearly a better chef than me. Then I can just get to work and make what he's developing. And I feel like there's always something new happening here!
The brioches are fully laid out in moulds.
"I don't really have to put in much effort because my job is to come here and test and develop things. It's really nice," says Gustav.
The Four Seasons
The unique thing about Scandinavia is its four seasons, and that is also what Bhoga's menu is based on. There is respect for nature and the seasons. In summer, there are lots of berries and greens, while there is more seafood and shellfish in winter.
And they have spent a lot of time trying to find out where to source these ingredients. After a few trial rounds, they now have regular farms and partners. And whereas they used to take in what farmers cultivated, they can now ask them to grow crops that they want to put on the menu, something which they find cool.
Gustav then admits that he's not just sampling new dishes:
"Obviously, I use a lot of energy, think a lot and test a lot. We have to constantly evolve, otherwise it won't be cool. One aspect is that we have to evolve to keep up, the other is that it's boring to cook the same food. So, I engage in a kind of self-coercion," he says, adding:
"I also get inspiration from dining out. And from colleagues in the industry and the farms we work with. And there's a lot of forcing oneself like I said, you have to constantly push yourself," he laughs.
A server comes through the door, smiling and chatting casually. There is no rigid hierarchy here.
The same casual atmosphere remains when Picolo returns to Bhoga in the evening. Gustav is in the kitchen along with two other members of staff. Dishes are being arranged with tweezers, while Gustav is checking orders and looking out over the room. A couple in their 30s are on a date, two older pairs of friends are sitting in a corner, and three colleagues are discussing work.
The waiters are dressed in simple black, and everyone is working together calmly. At one table, halibut is being served, with blackcurrant leaves and rhubarb. We order a Circus Melon, and the first course consists of sashimi with sundried tomato, and a rustic bowl of strawberries, flowers, and lemon. And Brioche. This baked good, which we witnessed being made a few hours ago, is so tasty that it could stand as a separate dish on its own. Fluffy, just enough fat, and crispy.
Throughout the evening, we have precisely such flavour experiences that are difficult to explain – a very special twist on ingredients that are otherwise on the dinner table in most homes in Europe every day. We are served potatoes that are soft like butter, hot strawberries and dried seaweed. All made with confidence and composure.
"There's no arguing and yelling in the kitchen here," says Niclas with a laugh as he greets us in the kitchen amid the rush.
There are also no flames or action. And still no white tablecloths. But the food is awesome!
Five recommended restaurants in Gothenburg:
1. The seafood restaurant VRÅ
Restaurant VRÅ is located at Clarion Hotel Post and is run by the famous chef Sofia B. Olsson. Here, the focus, from interior to dining, is on seafood. You should definitely try the oysters.
2. Popular Gurras
One of Gothenburg's hottest spots is run by Gustav Trägårdh, one of Sweden's foremost chefs. The menu consists of street food, inspired from all over the world. An urban and cool place that's perfect for sharing good food with friends.
3. Sustainable Bhoga
Highly recommended Michelin-starred restaurant in the heart of Gothenburg. Fresh and exciting food with an unusual twist on vegetables. Good wine and service. Modern and laid back atmosphere, with ingredients served in an incredibly delicate way.
4. The seafood gem Bar Bulot
Wonderful staff, and absolutely fantastic seafood. We recommend the fish soup. Go there for lunch or with your date in the evening. Located in the vibrant food court Stora Saluhallen in the middle of Gothenburg city centre.
5. Liseberg's Mei Roose Rooftop Bar & Bistro
Who would have thought we would recommend a restaurant in a family hotel? But the restaurant on the roof of the Liseberg Grand Curiosa Hotel is worth a visit. Cool view over the amusement park Liseberg, and a well-executed concept when it comes to both the staff and interior. Chinese food that really delivers in the form of strong flavours, fried vegetables and an a la carte menu you can share with family or friends.
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