OK, as I've written here before I'm not the biggest fan of Swedish cuisine and there are very few Swedish restaurants I think are worth the price of admission. A lot of this may be because I am vegetarian. While most Swedish restaurants have a veggie option, these options are often thought out by people who are obviously not vegetarian (a trait not unique to Swedish vegetarian cooking, and only shows that I am spoiled by growing up so close to NYC).
That said, there has been a trend for the last two years towards what I refer to as 'The Tapas Scam,' which has caused our list of possible restaurants for a nice night out to halve over the course of last year.
I realize Tapas is probably a wonderful thing to try while in Spain, or even at a fine Spanish style restaurant in Sweden specializing in Spanish food. But Swedish tapas, vegetarian style, are tiny plates of easily prepared cheap food for insane prices. For example, when one of our favorite regular restaurants went 'tapas' I ordered the garlic bread, halloumi, and soup. I got 3 slices of white bread with garlic butter, three slices of halloumi fried in olive oil, and a nice little cup of tomato soup, which wasn't bad, but wasn't anything to write home about. Each little plate would have cost 65-70SEk if ordered alone, but they cost 150SEK because I ordered them as an order of three.
Now lets say I was at a normal restaurant, even a normal Swedish restaurant. I might order a side of garlic bread with my Italian food. This side would usually be twice the size of my tapas bread, and cost about 35 SEK. If I had halloumi, it would normally be atop a salad, or sandwich, and thus be a bit more filling for the cost of 65-75 SEK. And a cup of soup? It usually ends up being about 65-75 SEK, but is often a bit bigger, and includes bread.
I get that it must be insanely expensive to run a restaurant in Sweden. I get that the overhead must make the owners cry on a regular basis. But what I don't get is why I have to pay through the roof for things even I, a rather basic chef, can produce at home with little to no effort or fanfare.
I cannot wait for this Tapas trend to be a blip in the memory of Sweden's strange culinary world.