Leading Nordic chef Niklas Ekstedt will finally open a restaurant in London, after almost eight years of trying and a targeted charm offensive since 2019. He will take over restaurant operations at Great Scotland Yard, the hotel restaurant formerly run by chef Alex Harper and consultant / overseer Robin Gill, of Clapham duo The Dairy and Sorella, and Darby’s in Nine Elms.
Ekstedt is best known for his eponymous, Michelin-starred Stockholm restaurant that relies entirely on wood-fired cooking, with no electricity, and he will bring that operational ethos — if not the absence of three-pin plugs — to central London. Dishes promised include reindeer served with black pudding, and a modish cep soufflé dessert with an ice cream flavoured with birch, his preferred wood for cooking, according to the Evening Standard.
Ekstedt is a celebrity of sorts in his home country of Sweden, and recently appeared on Netflix’s awkwardly fantastical cooking show, Crazy Delicious, alongside Heston Blumenthal and Carla Hall. And while wood-fired cooking no longer holds the aura it once did, especially in a city mildly obsessed, even dependent on it for intrigue, what’s most interesting about Ekstedt’s arrival in the city is that he is as obsessed with London as it is with his mode of cooking. He was trying to open in the capital as early as 2013, telling Eater that “London is definitely my number one choice. I’m actually looking into it as we speak, to open something in London. But I haven’t found a location and I haven’t found a local partner yet” when asked about a preferred city for expansion.
That restaurant never arrived. But in 2019 — in a compelling example of how some of the sausage gets made in this city — a PR agency began circulating a pitch deck on Ekstedt’s behalf, outlining both his keenness to open a “a high-end restaurant with innovative Nordic open fire cooking” and the consultancy process it might entail, including concept development, training, and a 12-month stint “handholding” the restaurant’s development.
That charm offensive has evidently won out, and is a significant coup for Great Scotland Yard, whose inaugural restaurant by Gill and Harper was not well-received. More soon on Ekstedt’s long-awaited, long-wished-for London debut.