The Flying Elk | Bjorn Frantzen's new Nordic-chic comfort food spot in Central
The line that caught my eye right away was “modern Nordic cabin.” Images of dining with candlelight surrounded by warm wood and plaid textiles filled my head. As a Canadian, I’m all about cozy comfort so I just had to make a booking at Bjorn Frantzen’s new spot The Flying Elk asap. A few months prior, I’d had the chance to visit Frantzen’s Kitchen on Upper Station Street and was really impressed by the detail and dedication that had gone into the food there. And the warm Swedish hospitality had left an impression, too. How would the food and hospitality translate into Frantzen’s new spot?
We went on opening night and were seated facing the kitchen. This was fine for us, as we love watching chefs at work (though I don’t think Frantzen himself was there). But those looking for a more romantic setting may want to request a regular table. The Flying Elk took over the old Fish and Meat location on Wyndham and has done a great job of transforming the space into their desired modern Nordic cabin. While Fish and Meat always seemed cold to me (industrial chic is not always good!), the positioning of the tables as well as the requisite touches of warm wood, copper accents, and jewel-tone tiles in The Flying Elk gave the space a warm, rustic-chic vibe.
Lucky for us, opening night meant we were treated to a complimentary cocktail each. I really enjoyed the Rabarberpaj with a gin (Fords) and vodka (Koskenkorva) base, rhubarb and lime cordial, and rhubarb and vanilla foam. It reminded me a bit of an adult ice cream float.
Besides the Nordic cabin description, the other thing that caught my eye about The Flying Elk was that it was supposed to be “casual” and thus more affordably priced? The snacks menu seemed to suggest this. We tried the Gougères ($40 for four puffs), Pork Rinds ($40), and Boneless Chicken Wings ($50).
While we would have liked the pork rinds to be more crispy, the Gougères with its Swedish cheddar filling and chestnut honey drizzle, and Wings with pungent Kvibille cheese and clarified butter, were both wonderful flavour bombs and were each worth a double order.
Given that we’d ordered three appetizers, our waitress suggested we start with two main dishes. However, the main dishes are quite tiny and we ordered five in total. In this section, we had some hits and misses.
We loved the Open Sandwich with 24-hour pork cheeks ($185). The savoury, fattiness of the meat contrasted well with the sweet cabbage ribbons and the truffle bechamel sauce.
The Roasted Scallop ($190) was another hit, with the scallop itself cooked perfectly and sat atop scrambled eggs so creamy I could have almost sworn they were mashed potatoes (if not for the distinctly egg-y flavour).
The Baked Hen’s Egg ($150) sounded really good with spinach, truffle, gruyere, peas and roasted chicken jus. But in reality this was quite hard to eat. It had both an unappealing mix of textures and there was a sourness (some sort of vinegar?) that overpowered the more delicate elements of the dish.
Roasted Smoked Venison Sirloin ($205) isn’t something you see on the menu everyday so I was excited to try it. However, the meat itself was quite tough and tasted a bit too gamey.
Lastly, we ordered the Umami Salad ($150). The duck confit, smoked pecorino, and crispy onions certainly gave this dish its umaminess. While it was pleasant enough, it didn’t have the wow factor to be worth of a re-order.
When it came time for dessert, we were informed that they were on the house (prices are listed here for reference though) given it was opening night and they were still trying to work out some kinks. It was quite a lovely thing for the restaurant to do, and we enjoyed sampling the Marangsviss ($75), Grilled Pineapple ($70), and the Syltkakor ($45 for 5 cookies). The presentation and overall texture of the Marangviss was very nice though the addition of thyme was a bit unusual and may be off-putting to some. The Grilled Pineapple with star anise ice cream would be a simple, not-too-sinful treat at the end of a meal. What we did love were the little Syltkakor butter cookies with raspberry jam though. Warm, buttery, crumbly little pops of happiness (and with no seeds!).
It’s worth giving The Flying Elk a try though next time, I might opt for drinks and snacks at the bar rather than a full dinner. Some of the prices certainly are good but calling this a casual spot refers to the vibe only. Given the portion size of the main dishes, diners will leave with a dent in their wallet if they want to get full.
32 Wyndham St, Central, 2565 6788