Former footballer-turned-Michelin starred chef Björn Frantzén makes his London debut with Studio Frantzén at Harrods. The restaurant – on the top floor of the department store – has sweeping views across Knightsbridge. But it’s the menu which really scores, combining live fire, Scandinavian techniques, Asian influences and high-end ingredients. Here’s why Studio Frantzén is our restaurant of the week.
What do celebrity chefs Gordon Ramsay and Björn Frantzén have in common? Answer: both have three Michelin star restaurants; both had promising professional football careers; and both now have restaurants at Harrods. But no disrespect to the former Rangers trainee and his £85 wagyu burger available on the fourth floor, the AIK Fotboll signee’s jaw dropping restaurant, bar, and roof terrace on the fifth is the winner.
Studio Frantzén, the restaurant in question, represents Björn Frantzén entry onto the UK dining scene and his first European restaurant outside Stockholm, where his flagship Frantzén holds three Michelin stars and ranks among the World’s 50 Best (further afield, he has restaurants in Singapore and Bangkok and more planned for Dubai and Shanghai). London is also where he trained as a young chef under Nico Ladenis and Tom Aikens.
Harrods has carved out a vast two-storey space with a weatherproof terrace especially for Frantzén. We marvel at the views – as far as the Shard, the London Eye, and Big Ben – while sipping cocktails with lingonberry, yuzushu and Champagne and with pink gin, shiso umeshu, and sakura. You’ll notice a theme: the blending of Nordic and Japanese ingredients to intoxicating effect.
If the exterior is impressive, then the interior with its double height atrium, marquetry wall, and sculptural lighting is another level. You could dine here fifty times and notice something new each visit.
The same could be said for the menu. Frantzén eschews the tasting menu format for an ambitious carte combining live fire, Scandinavian techniques, Asian influences, and costly ingredients. The post-Noma, Scandi-lite approach (some sea buckthorn here, some pickled elderberries there) is commonplace in London, but to encounter the real Nordic restaurant deal is rare.
Oysters are a favoured ingredient, paired raw with pine and fermented lingonberries and grilled with smoked butter sauce, herring caviar and seaweed oil. Gone in a single slurp, but what complexity. And I’ve never tried anything like roasted Orkney scallops, with scrambled duck eggs, truffle, crispy lichens, and smoked pea soy.
Hiramasa sashimi with truffle dashi vinaigrette edges closer to Japanese cuisine and is as pretty as can be on Royal Copenhagen’s iconic blue and white china. The fusion of east and west is best exemplified in “Sweden vs Japan”, a hearty dish of braised brisket, grilled wagyu, with lemongrass jus and Japanese mustard. The miniature deep-fried Hasselback potato with whipped brown butter on the side tips victory in Sweden’s favour.
On one visit for this Studio Frantzén review, I barely scratch the surface. I try enough to know I want to try more. Frantzén’s food is unique, fascinating, at times challenging, and intellectually far beyond the average luxury dining experience. It’s another smart move from the world’s most famous department store.