Because I am mentally feeble when it comes to learning Swedish, it took me a long time to remember how to spell ‘Hemma Hos Oss’.
This comes down to not knowing what each word meant, but now I know that it means ‘home with us.’ How hard is that? Don’t ask.
The last time I ate dinner there was far too long ago—October 2010—and it was so good I remember at least one of the dishes. The intriguing details about Hemma hos oss is that they serve nothing but fresh food, all handmade in their kitchens; they rely solely on local farmers, local meats, and local suppliers; and they serve only eensy-weensy portions on tiny little plates.
They have to explain all of this before they’ll feed you, too, which means they’re a little zealous about their ethos, but that’s okay because this is the best food in town, and possibly the country. It is certainly the freshest. They even bake their own bread and whip their own butter.
The restaurant is located inside an old house in the midst of a neighborhood of apartment buildings and houses. If you didn’t see the sign, and you didn’t know it was a restaurant, you’d think these were just people at home, having dinner and feeding ten tables of guests.
Tonight, they gave me my meny (menu) and a pen, so that choosing dinner felt like taking a test. You’re supposed to put a check mark next to each dish you want to order.
There are many things in Sweden I don’t fully understand, but I just go with because I don’t know the language terribly well, and they make it easy on you to not know the language. As far as I can tell, they might understand English at this restaurant, but it hardly matters when all you have to do is put a check mark next to your choices, of which there are a fair few.
There are four categories you can choose from, and I suppose you could order three of everything, since the portions are small, but in fact, one tiny plate plus another tiny plate plus another tiny plate definitely expands in the stomach until you are quite full on what seems like not much food as you’re eating it. Everything was wonderful, and after each description, you can insert the sound of me sighing with pleasure.
The first tiny little plate was a Fisk och skaldur (fish and shellfish) offering: Varmrökt lax från Klasamåla med äppelkräm. If you’re from Seattle, and you’re visiting Sweden, remember that ‘lax’ means ‘salmon,’ and you’ll be fine. In this case, it’s smoked salmon with apple cream sauce on the side, a lovely combination, not excessively sweet.
The next item served (I expected this first, to be honest) was from the Grönt Soppa Ost Bröd offerings (Greens, Soup, Cheese, Bread): Onion soup with baked cheese toast, or Löksoppa med prästostgratinerad toast.
In most restaurants, you’d get a large bowl of onion soup, smothered in cheese submerging floating lumps of bread. Not at Hemma hoss oss. The tiny little soup bowl was the size you’d normally see in a Chinese restaurant, the narrow cheesey toast finger placed to one side. The white onions were delicate and sweet, the toast delightfully crunchy and tasty.
Småland produces some fabulous cheeses, by the way, it being the predominant agricultural area of Sweden. On their website, Hemma hos os says they buy their cheese from a shop I go to downtown (and can therefore testify to its quality), Lilla Ostbutiken (Little Cheese Boutique).
From the Kött (pronounced “shott” or ‘meat’) selection, I chose Lammrostbiff med liten primörsallad. If you notice a theme to my choices, it is that they are easy to translate from Swedish into English. Now, the word ‘liten,’ which means ‘a little’ should be taken extremely literally in this case, because garnishing my lamb, which was carefully cut into six small slices, was a teeny-tiny piece of something pretty and curly and green that tasted as though it had been plucked seconds ago from an outside garden, which it probably was.
Grudgingly, because after ordering four small plates and one bottle of Dutch beer, I was full, I accepted my dessert, Lingonglass med salta honungsmandlar (lingon ice cream sprinkled with salted honey roasted almonds). Lingon berries are so much better when you eat them in their native land.
This lingon ice cream was not too sweet, as it did not contain a lot of cream or sugar. This makes it more like sorbet, giving it a crunchy texture that was well-matched with the sprinkling of deceptively un-sugary and light salted honey-encrusted almonds. Dessert was excellent, as was everything on the meny.
The cooking at Hemma hos oss is so good you start to think that it ought to be possible to produce food like this at home every single day, since your dining experience is in someone’s home, and a nice man who looks like someone’s husband brings it to you.
The prices of their dishes are reasonable for the quality of the cooking and presentation. The onion soup was 40:- ($5.95); Lamb 65:- ($9.67); Salmon 60:- ($8.93); Dessert 45:- ($6.70). I intend to go back again, soon, but first I have to spend some time with the meny, translating it.
Hemma hos oss, if you find your way to Växjö, is located at 2 Bäckaslövsvägen, 352 35 Växjö | Tel 0470-141 70 | Mobil 0705-459704. Hours: Lunch, served Monday – Friday, 11:30 to 2:00 p.m. and Dinner, served Thursday – Saturday, 6 p.m. – 10 p.m.
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