WORDS & PHOTOGRAPHY: AM
We have wanted to visit this nose to tail, farm to table, soil to soul restaurant in Malmö for quite some time now. The brainchild of Andreas Dahlberg and Nina Christensson - think bold modern European soulfood deeply rooted in a regional and seasonal ethos - is the place to come to if you want well prepared food with lots of heart, the food they prefer to eat themselves, food which embodies the philosophy and importance of using the whole carcass, including the innards and offcuts, it also concerns itself with the quality of the meat and animal welfare, choosing animals which have lived a happy life, celebrating as well as respecting that life. Naturally this philosophy does not only concern meat, it is also about using local seasonal vegetables, above all it is about respect and caring, respect for the planet and its bounty. This depth of caring is reflected not only in the farmers who supply their meat and vegetables but also throughout the restaurant in everything they do - from the choice of wines, via the exquisite food and continuing through to the staff who show a genuine warmth and hospitality to their guests.
Walking through the heavy wooden doors, Bastard smells exactly as I thought and hoped it would, like the smokey, caramel like burnt crust of your favourite sourdough - with some hints of porky goodness. The room, centered around a large classic zinc bar - behind which the staff were preparing for the early evening rush, the lull before the storm - is furnished with an eclectic mix of vintage tables and chairs and of course original black and white tiled flooring, with butcher tiles on the walls, above which old faded anatomy posters of crustaceans et al hang informatively, peacocks languish on the black and gold wallpaper, with a variety of black and white photos peppered throughout. Eat at the counter or at one of the tables, or as the authentically accommodating Ben explained, how about the charmingly rustic courtyard, a natural extension of the room during the summer months and quite frankly the perfect setting for their delicious food, with old drawers hoisted onto the walls, used as peek boxes or cabinets of curiosity, just adding to the charm. We ended up having the best of both worlds - a table at the back of the restaurant looking out onto the courtyard.
Founder and head chef Andreas had sadly been called away on a pressing matter the evening we visited but we were equally happy nevertheless - between our waitress, the relaxed and charming Annika, via the excellent sous chef Niklas, to the Australian charms of Ben the restaurant manager we frankly could not have been taken better care of. The principle is simple when choosing what to eat, sharing is caring and so began our favourite way of eating, sharing from each other's plates. First off was the house charcuterie board - with melt in your mouth rillettes and a pork and sage terrine to die for amongst other delights - perfect with their house wood-fired sourdough. Next up was the most deliciously tender raw beef with baby gems and grilled creme fraiche, heavenly creamy buratta with tomatoes and cherries, grilled asparagus and a summery goats curd and pea dish - such an interesting mix of flavours throughout all the dishes that all complimented one another perfectly. We paused for a while savouring our Mikkeller alcohol free craft beer - started by former maths and physics teacher, today Mikkel Borg Bjergsø exports his cutting edge micro brewed beers to forty countries worldwide - for the designated driver and for me, a glass of earthy 2015 Vej 210, a natural wine with a beautiful almost amber colour that recalls the sun ripened hues of the natural Malvasia grapes from the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy.
With a great selection of tunes playing in the background and the restaurant filling up quickly we welcomed our plates of grilled rare-breed beef with an absolutely stunning salsa verde, the most succulent smokey pork cheeks hiding under a mound of leaves with cucumber and bergamot, as well as a lovely wood fired down to earth pizza. The desserts were note perfect as well, cherry galette, lemon posset, meringue with rhubarb and strawberries, a deliciously zingy elderflower sorbet and of course not forgetting Abbey's decadent chocolate truffle cake. Once we had savoured our dishes down to the last mouthful sous chef Niklas very kindly came over and chatted with us - he hails from the highly revered Copenhagen based restaurants Manfreds and Relæ and these influences clearly match perfectly with Andreas, who is seemingly a disciple of the Fergus Henderson school of thought - the acclaimed chef whose book from 2004 “The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating” is quite rightly many adventurous chefs bible de rigeur.
Bastard seems to honour rustic peasant traditions, through modern cooking coupled with a hearty family atmosphere inspired by the likes of, Au Pied de Cochon in Canadian Montreal, however, this is not a place that celebrates or subscribes to the notion of a star chef - here all the staff work collectively to make this well and truly the place to eat, a practice that clearly works as they are fully booked every night and frankly well deserved, for a team that is truly pitch perfect from start to finish. Together they have created a wonderful place that is contagious in its openness and courage, where people speak to each other and dare to try new things whilst finding inspiration from one another - where you are made to feel welcome, where you are happy to sit for three hours, enjoying the robust simplicity of the food whilst drinking in the overall experience of this fantastic yet thoroughly unpretentious restaurant.