Gabriel serves the same menu they did 30 years ago
GOTHENBURG, SWEDEN: As a view from the outside, the building looks like a church, but inside it is all about fish and sea food, about fresh and delicious food and good wines and local beer. Here are shops and three restaurants, all selling and serving fish and seafood. Every church needs an angel and this one has a Chef performing as the angel of fresh sea food. This is the church to meet Gabriel.
Fish Church. Feskekörka, in English means the Fish Church, is located by a canal in central Gothenburg. Gabriel restaurant has been here serving sea food since 1986, without too many foreign ingredients, just honest food from the wild sea, lakes and rivers. You can enjoy a glass of wine and eat at the bar or get the full treatment at tables. The atmosphere is informal, and so is Johan Malm, the busy owner and head chef. If Johan isn´t around, he might be on tour in China introducing Swedish oysters or diving for seafood on the West Coast of Sweden. Johan is the champion in opening oysters. In two minutes or so he can open 30 oysters. As Swedish and World champion in Oyster shucking, Malm is as fast as sprinter Usain Bolt.
Big Five. Gothenburg is Sweden´s seafood capital and the Bohuslän coast all the way to the boarder of Norway, is the place for seafood safaris. At Gabriel they have served more or less the same menu since the opening more than 30 years ago. That includes lobster, oysters, mussels, crayfish and prawns – also known as the big five and all fresh from the sea. Most of the oysters come from the waters around the seaside town of Grebbestad.
Only wild fish. Every morning there is an auction at the fish market, and every day the shops get fresh fish and sea food. Chef Malm prefer wild fish and of this reason all farmed salmon are removed from the menu.
I started my taste menu with Swedish oysters, fresh from the sea. The next wa Kalix Loja, an exclusive caviar from fish in fresh water, also known as “Caviar of Kalix”.
The very best bite came as Matjes, it´s herring soaked in preserving liquid and served with Löjrom, onion and browned butter on Danish rye bread. I fully understand the decision of replacing farmed salmon with Mates herring. I finished my meal with Catch of the day, it came as pan fried mackerel.
As traveller, trying the catch of the day is one of the most satisfying ways to feel like a native. This was my second visit to Gabriel in Gothenburg and I know they are dedicated to the finest local ingredients to be found.
Top score. Freshness is paramount for any fish restaurant and this one also has creative Chefs. My meal was washed down with locally brewed beer and a shot of snaps. For the first time I decide to lash out 95 out of 100 points – because I was served seafood from Heaven.