Sweets, Swedes and Schwarma at Petaluma’s Stockhome

New Swedish restaurant is both Nordic and Middle Eastern?

My family was recently rocked by a scandalous and shocking test result that will forever change our lives — our DNA turns out to be 52 percent Scandinavian. We are not blonde, we have no particular affinity toward meatballs and only occasionally shop at Ikea. The signs were always there, though — my mother’s dallying with pickled herring in the 1970s, the fact that as children, my brother and I could do a spot-on imitation of the Swedish Chef from the Muppets and a suspicion that lingonberry runs in our blood.

Turns out more of us with English heritage (up to 12 percent, according to Ancestry.com) can trace our lineage to the glacial lakes, forest and fjords than we expected. Blame the marauding Vikings — or don’t — but at least now you can experience a bit of Motherland cuisine right here in Sonoma County, no matter where your DNA says you’re from.

Stockhome Restaurant is a collaboration between husband and wife team Roberth and Andrea Sundell, who own the upscale Swedish restaurant Plaj in San Francisco. After living in Petaluma for years with their kids, the couple decided to open a walk-up cafe featuring unfussy family favorites closer to home. Open just two weeks, the restaurant has become a neighborhood hub, mixing Turkish and Mediterranean street food found in the larger cities of Sweden with homey classics like Swedish meatballs, pickled herring and Swedish pancakes on the menu — all of it with a few nods to California as well. Consider it the United Nations of local dining.

Lamb and Beef kebab plate with garlic yogurt at Stockhome Restaurant in Petaluma. heather irwin/PD
Lamb and Beef kebab plate with garlic yogurt at Stockhome Restaurant in Petaluma. heather irwin/PD

Fun fact: Though kabobs, schwarma and kofta seem a world away from the smoked salmon and rye bread usually associated with Scandinavian cuisine, Sweden actually has a long history of assimilation of Middle Eastern foods. Less than a month ago, the world was shocked to find out that the recipe for Swedish meatballs was actually brought from Turkey to Sweden by the exiled King Charles XII in the early 18th century, according to the country’s national Twitter account. But who’s cornered the market on the Swedish meatball? Ikea, the Swedish furniture company that sells more than 2 million per day, according to its website? Take that, Turkey.

The interior is the bright, classic Swedish minimalist look you’d expect, with cornflower blue paint outside welcoming you into a large open room with clean lines, long group tables and vintage Josef Frank floral wallpaper — something most Swedes immediately recognize from their childhoods, according to my co-worker and dining partner, Sofia, who, with my other co-worker, Annika, are both Stockholm natives.

Meal at Stockhome restaurant in Petaluma. Courtesy photo, Elise Aileen Photography.
Meal at Stockhome restaurant in Petaluma. Courtesy photo, Elise Aileen Photography.

Wherever you’re from and wherever you’re going, there’s one thing we can all agree on, and that’s tasty food. Combining the flavors and presentation of a fine dining experience in a casual environment, the Sundells have nailed a need that’s long existed in Sonoma County — where grownups and kids can both enjoy a solid meal with flavors both familiar and exotic. The bonus: The Swedish tradition of lördagsgodis, wherein kids are allowed candy only on Saturday, but can then indulge in as much as they want, is alive and well here, with tempting jars filled with Plopp! chocolates, gummy fish and (be warned) spicy salted licorice candy that only a Swede could love.

Best Bets

How did the food stack up with the Swedes? Both Annika and Sofia said the food was pretty spot on. I think I noticed a few little tears in their stoic Nordic eyes when we ate the pickled herring, but they’d never admit it. I’ve noted their favorites.

Street Food

Shrimp skagen at Stockhome Restaurant in Petaluma. heather irwin/PD
Shrimp skagen at Stockhome Restaurant in Petaluma. heather irwin/PD

Korv Kiosk (hot dog stand) Tunnbrod Rulle ($9): This is serious post-drinking food, because no sober person would put a smoked German sausage, mashed potatoes, ketchup, mustard, iceberg lettuce and tomatoes inside a rolled Swedish flatbread. But somehow it’s delicious no matter what your inebriation status. Swedes approve.

Lamb and Beef Kebab Plate ($14): Thin slices of juicy lamb and beef are topped with a light tomato sauce and a side of garlic yogurt. “A lot of our Swedish friends tasted this to make sure it was right,” said Roberth. Served with fries or saffron rice, it’s a hearty portion of tender meat far better than your usual gyro fare. Swedes approved.

Small Plates

Roasted eggplant dip with pita bread at Stockhome Restaurant in Petaluma. heather irwin/PD
Roasted eggplant dip with pita bread at Stockhome Restaurant in Petaluma. heather irwin/PD

Celery Root Gratin with Wrangeback Cheese ($8): This dish is all about the sharp, herby raw cow’s milk cheese that’s melty in some spots and nicely crisped and caramelized in others. Thin slices of celery root are merely a transmission system for the cheese, butter and milk that make this so intensely addictive.

Grilled Stone Fruits ($9): Impossibly simple, perfectly seasonal nectarines get the lightest of grills, tossed with chewy barley and tart pomegranate molasses.

Shrimp Skagen ($12): The traditional Swedish shrimp salad on toast gets a California twist, made with bits of brioche toast, avocado, olive oil and chili. A refreshing small plate you won’t really want to share. Swedes approve.

Larger Dishes

Plank steak with duchess potatoes, tomato, asparagus and Bearnaise sauce at Stockhome Restaurant in Petaluma. heather irwin/PD
Plank steak with duchess potatoes, tomato, asparagus and Bearnaise sauce at Stockhome Restaurant in Petaluma. heather irwin/PD

Plank Steak ($24): Literally a steak on a wooden plank. It arrives with an aggressive-looking upright knife stabbed into the center of the steak. Swedes are impressed and say this is very Old School childhood memory kind of food. Served with piped “Duchess” potatoes, asparagus, grilled tomato and Bearnaise sauce — a classic French tarragon cream sauce that’s a bit of a rarity anymore, but such a perfect pairing with steak.

Wienerschnitzel ($24): Most Americans make this with pounded pork — and its nothing like the velvety texture of veal, used in this version. If you’re looking for the most authentic version of this luxury dish, you’ve found it. Tiny roasted potatoes with English peas, capers and loads of butter may be one of the best sides I’ve had in recent memory.

Meatballs and mashed potatoes at Stockhome restaurant. Photo courtesy of www.newrevmedia.com
Meatballs and mashed potatoes at Stockhome restaurant. Photo courtesy of www.newrevmedia.com

Mashed Potato Bowl ($18): Every Swede has a secret meatball recipe, and Roberth is no exception. His grandmother’s recipe is rich with clove and spices, with tender meat atop fluffy mashed potatoes and a delicate brown gravy. Of course there are lingonberries and pickled cucumbers. A pork cheek and mushroom or salmon version is also available, but really, come on, meatballs! Swedes were split on this one.

Swedish Pancakes ($7): I know my Swedish pancakes, because I’ve been making them on Sunday mornings for the past 15 years. Mine are sweeter, these are eggier, both are way better than French crepes by a long shot. With a scoop of vanilla whipped cream and berries, they’re indulgent, though I love mine with just lemon, butter and powdered sugar — a suggested variance? Swede approved.

Overall: A great family-friendly cafe with something for everyone. The kids’ menu will satisfy the young ones, while a nice beer and wine list (and excellent food) make the grown-ups happy. No matter where you’re from, you’re an honorary Swede at Stockhome.

Details: 220 Western Ave., Petaluma, 707-981-8511, stockhomerestaurant.com. Open Wednesday through Sunday from 11a.m. to 9p.m.


11 thoughts on “Sweets, Swedes and Schwarma at Petaluma’s Stockhome

  1. Second delicious visit. This time I had the schnitzel, delicious but I would prefer more peas and fewer potatoes. My daughter had the lamb/beef kabob, also delicious. The plank steak has been removed from the menu due to lack of interest, sad because I loved it on my first visit.

    The venue is an obvious success and the management will have to address the noise and line up at the counter to order. But absolutely first rate food.

  2. Had the Tunnbrod Rulle which is essentially a Swedish burrito; it was even wrapped in foil. Pretty unique dish in my years of dining experience. Dogs were good quality, were well grilled, and casings had a nice snap to them. All other ingredients were of good quality. I think you are right in your assessment that this is a great post-drinking item. Put a food truck serving this in front of a few bars and you would have it. Liked the classy Swedish dishes and flatware. Nice addition to the county and good change from the usual Cal-Med menus.

  3. My family and I have been several times since Stockhome opened and we are thrilled that a restaurant like this exists. They’ve nailed it! The food is absolutely incredible and even my young kids love it. The ambience, customer service and location are all spot on. The pricing is really good especially considering everything that you get and the large portions. This truly is a family friendly environment run by an incredible family. Thank you for opening our tastebuds and minds with your restaurant. We’ll be back and looking forward to it!

  4. Not a word about the awkward and chaotic method of ordering – and then having to “pay as you go” for any additions (another dish, a glass of wine, a desert)! As a restaurant serving small plates, surely they must anticipate additions as a meal progresses, this was not thought through. And speaking of wine, I paid $10.00 for a glass of wine that retails for $20.00 (Yorkville Cellars Sauvignon Blanc) for a very skimpy 5 oz. pour, means the restaurant is making a $40.00 profit on each bottle – egregious for Sonoma County!

  5. Food and service were very good.
    Acoustics were AWEFUL. Don’t think it would be possible to make the place noisier. I will get it to go.

  6. I spend a lot of time in Stockholm, on business, so I’m looking forward to giving this place a shot. Generally, Swedish homecooking (husmanskost) is not that exciting but the adoption of Middle Eastern and Greek cuisine into the local fare has helped to brighten it considerably. The real question, though, is, on Tuesdays, will I be able to get raggmunk med stekt fläsk und lingonsas for my dagens rätt?

    1. Re Tuesday choices on menu-sorry, they are closed on Tuesdays. Try Thursday and you may get pea soup, punch and pancakes.

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