Restaurant Project in Gothenburg: a Michelin-starred restaurant with a monotonous tone

Project offers fine, refined dishes that are not overly sophisticated, in a warm, friendly setting, without fuss. But the omnipresence of lemon in all the dishes during our dinner eventually became boring, and certain aspects of the service were surprising for a Michelin-starred restaurant.

I’ve had Project on my list of Gothenburg restaurants to try for some time now, and I think it holds the record for reservations I’ve made and then cancelled for various reasons, from a change of program to the unavailability of a guest.

I had to take advantage of this short stay in Gothenburg to have dinner with a friend, and I wasn’t sure she’d be interested, especially as I think she’d eaten there before. But in the end she thought it was a great idea, so I booked it, hoping that, for once, I wouldn’t have to cancel due to an imponderable event.

You’ll find at the bottom of the page a summary of the articles about this vacation in the USA.

Restaurant concept

Like many trendy restaurants, Project is in tune with the times: creative yet simple cuisine featuring local, seasonal produce.

The restaurant has one Michelin star.

The setting

Very convivial, almost more in the style of a bistro or even a wine bar than a Michelin-starred restaurant, at least by French standards (which is not a criticism, on the contrary). Not too different in this respect from another restaurant I really liked, Natur.

Woody and warm, as is often the case with restaurants here, whatever their range.

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The menu

The restaurant has à la carte dishes as well as two tasting menus, one small and one large.

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A la carte dishes are served in snack portions for sharing, while menus include both snack and regular portions.

Dinner and service

The day before the meal I receive a confirmation email…which I’ll have translated by Google. It’s not the first time this has happened to me for a hotel or restaurant, but one day the Swedes will have to understand that not everyone speaks their language, and that as long as the site is in English, the rest of the communication could follow suit…

We arrive in a restaurant that is almost empty, and will remain so. One or two tables are occupied, which will soon become free, and we’ll be the only guests for the evening. I admit I’m a bit surprised, but my friend explains that it’s back-to-school week and the city is a bit quiet at the moment.

Our choice is quickly made: we’ll each take the small tasting menu and my friend will have the pork replaced by fish for personal taste. No wine pairing: we’ll have wine by the glass, and it will turn out that one glass each is more than enough for us, along with a bottle of water.

The service begins with a few snacks. I apologize in advance for the sometimes terse descriptions of the dishes, but the menu doesn’t say much, and it’s not always easy to take note of the waitress’s explanations on the fly.

Langoustines, cucumber and yuzu.

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Fresh, light and well-balanced to start with. The cucumber is not overpowering and the yuzu adds a touch of freshness.

Mackerel, shiso and black garlic

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Again, perfectly balanced, the mackerel taste is well contained, so well that you can hardly feel it. However, as in the first dish, there is a lemony aftertaste.

Sautéed tartare with sesame and lime

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Another fine, light and pleasantly spicy dish. The presence of lemon is pleasant, and with the shallots it looks a little like lemongrass. A bit surprising, but very successful.

Hamachi sashimi, compressed seaweed, mint and lime.

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Once again, it’s both fine and simple, and very pleasant to taste. But the recurrence of lemony flavors is starting to get a bit tiresome, even for me, who really likes them.

We look at each other in amusement:

Was it written that it was a lemon themed menu?

Uh, no, but it’s true that they’re putting it everywhere“.

Yes, at first it’s nice, but after a while it’s all you see and it lacks originality“.

Then comes the next course, my first without lemon…

Pork secreto, cabernet sauvignon, garlic emulsion and ramen broth.

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Here we leave the lemony lands for something very Asian, which will be my favorite dish of this dinner.

The texture is firm but very fine in the mouth, slightly crispy like a Peking duck, and the sauce is simply delicious.

Plaice, miso glaze with burnt butter and porcini dashi

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I told you that my friend had asked to replace the pork with fish and this is what she got. I hadn’t thought to take the photo before she started it, but at least it lets you see the flesh of the fish.

I don’t remember what explanation the waitress gave us about the type of fish (“plaice” on the menu) but it didn’t convince us and we were rather of the opinion that it was halibut. Aynway, halibut and plaice have a quite similar flesh.

The fish is perfectly cooked, its flesh consistent under the fork and melting under the tongue, the sauce well-balanced and tasty, and we’re pretty sure there was yuzu in it too.

Then comes the pre-dessert.

Although we don’t know more about it, it is pistachio and citrus-based.

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Not bad, but citrus and what we identify, once again, as lemon, totally dominate the taste of pistachio, which is very discreet.

And finally, the dessert…

Grilled corn ice cream, calamansi, lemon marmalade and popcorn.

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Taken on its own, the ice cream is a delight, but unfortunately the lemon is far too prominent, so much so that it’s practically all you can feel.

We’ll finish off with a surprise sweet treat

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All in all, a dinner that lived up to all its promises. There’s creativity, but without overdoing it or becoming too complicated, and the ingredients are respected, not overworked…. Proof that it’s possible to be creative and refined while keeping things simple.

However, as we said to the waitress at the end of the meal, “too much lemon kills the lemon“, even though it’s an ingredient we appreciate. But here, perhaps because it was a summer menu, it was so present that we ended up believing that it was the guiding principle of the menu, or that the chef had found himself with a stock to sell…

At first, it awakens the taste buds, but by the end it’s wearying and gives the false impression of a lack of originality.

Too bad.

The service

Very warm, even friendly, without being too casual. So Swedish.

It’s true that we were the only ones in the room and that the waitress only had us to look after, but she was adorable and perfect.

So much for the human dimension, but one detail caught our attention.

When I mentioned a bistro setting, the cutlery was simply placed in a pot on the next table, and we were free to pick it up ourselves. Absolutely not disturbing, and it went perfectly with the setting and atmosphere, but as my friend pointed out: “I don’t think a restaurant would get a star in France with that, and anyway I have the impression that Michelin is more indulgent with restaurants abroad”.

As for indulgence, I have no idea, but perhaps they adapt to the local culture and customs, and there are indeed things that are perfectly normal here that would be out of place in France (and vice versa).

But the question remains open.

Atmosphere

Excellent as far as we’re concerned, because I always enjoy eating and chatting with my guest of the evening. On the other hand, if I’d been alone, I’m sure I’d have found the dinner a bit sad in this empty room.

But since I hear it’s just a question of circumstances, and that it’s otherwise a very popular place….

Bottom line

A star restaurant that delivers on its promise if we assume that the guide’s expectations in terms of service are adapted to the local culture and even the restaurant’s theme. Frankly, it went down very well with us, but I’m sure some French customers would find something to nitpick about. For the latter, Koka or 28+ might be more to their liking, but if we stay in the spirit of a gourmet bistro or wine bar, with serious but not stuffy service, the mix of genres works perfectly here.

But if we come back to the cuisine, I like restaurants that manage to combine creativity and simplicity, and it has to be said that Scandinavians are generally good at it.

On the other hand, the omnipresence of lemon in all its forms in almost every dish was really tiresome at the end, giving the impression of a rather monotonous cuisine, without variety, which is a pity because it’s objectively not the case. But the impression is there.

I’d like to take this opportunity to ask your opinion on one of the topics of our conversation during the meal. Based on your experience or knowledge, do you think that Michelin’s standards for food and service are lower abroad or, like me, that they adapt their standards to the local culture?

If you have an opinion on the matter I’d be happy to read it in the comments.

The articles about this vacation in the USA

#TypePost
1DiaryPlanning summer vacation 2023 in the USA
2HotelFairfield Inn by Marriott, North Conway (New-Hampshire)
3HotelAC Hotel by Marriott, Portland (Maine)
4FlightParis-Copenhaguen – SAS – SAS plus
5LoungeSAS Gold Lounge Copenhagen
6FlightCopenhagen-Gothenburg – SAS – SAS Plus
7HotelAvalon Hotel – Gothenburg
8RestaurantCarbon, Gothenburg
9LoungeSAS Lounge – Gothenburg
10FlightGothenburg-Copenhagen – SAS – SAS plus
11LoungeAmerican Airlines Admirals Club lounge, Boston Logan
12FlightBoston – Chicago O’Hare – American Airlines – Domestic First
13LoungeEventyr lounge, Copenhagen
14FlightCopenhagen-Chicago – SAS (operated par Hifly) – Business Class
15HotelThe St. Regis, Chicago
16HotelW Chicago Lakeshore
17RestaurantSignature Room at the John Hancock Center, Chicago
18RestaurantThe Purple Pig, Chicago
19RestaurantObelix, Chicago
20RestaurantCabra, Chicago
21RestaurantMiru, Chicago
22DiaryVisiting Chicago
23LoungeAmerican Airlines Flagship Lounge, Chicago O’Hare
24FlightChicago O’Hare – Indianapolis – American Airlines Domestic First
25FlightIndianapolis – Boston – American Airlines Domestic First
26LoungeSAS Lounge – Chicago O’Hare
27FlightChicago O’Hare-Stockholm – SAS – Business Class
28LoungeSAS Gold Lounge, Stockholm
29FlightStockholm-Gothenburg – SAS – SAS Plus
30HotelScandic Rubinen – Gothenburg
31RestaurantProject, Gothenburg
32FlightGothenburg-Copenhagen – SAS – SAS Plus
33FlightCopenhagen-Paris – SAS (Operated by Jet Time) – SAS Plus
34DiaryDebriefing summer vacations in the USA
Today’s itinerary

Bertrand Duperrin
Bertrand Duperrinhttp://www.duperrin.com
Compulsive traveler, present in the French #avgeek community since the late 2000s and passionate about (long) travel since his youth, Bertrand Duperrin co-founded Travel Guys with Olivier Delestre in March 2015.
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