For readers who complain about the dearth of Scandinavian restaurants, have I got a tip for you.
There’s a new one. But it’s a bit of a drive from Tacoma.
The Landmark Restaurant in Eatonville opened Nov. 6 (well, reopened actually, but more on that in a bit), and while it’s not a true Swedish restaurant, it certainly counts as a Scandinavian hybrid.
Chef Mikael Reijo, born and raised in Sweden, calls the menu European country cooking, and that’s an apt descriptor for a dinner menu encompassing grilled and roasted meats ($17-$27), a burger ($14), a housemade pasta and a vegetarian lasagna ($17-$18), with prime rib on the weekends ($23-$27).
And there’s this: Swedish Pann Biff ($16), a cousin of Swedish meatballs made with flattened-out beef patties and served with potatoes, a veal-broth based sauce and pickles on the side. There’s also pan-seared salmon ($22) with roasted beets, capers and a gratin that’s a touch of Scandinavian around the edges.
For the full-deal Swedish spread, head to the restaurant Dec. 16 for its julbord, a traditional Swedish Christmas dinner with housemade gravlax, cured herring, Swedish meatballs, a selection of handmade charcuterie, sausages, roast duck, Scandinavian Christmas ham and a selection of imported Swedish cheeses. And, of course, there will be lutefisk because “there will be trouble” if we don’t, said Reijo.
Reijo manages the kitchen while wife Gay manages the rest of the business. They’re transplants from Ashford’s Alexander’s Country Inn, which recently changed hands and now is called Alexander’s Lodge.
The Reijos worked at Alexander’s for two years after working nearly a dozen years at Ruby Springs Lodge, a Montana resort known for its fly fishing. Prior to Montana, the family worked in Sun Valley, Idaho, at a number of restaurants, country clubs and lodges.
If you’re sensing a theme of proximity to the mountains for the family, that’s because the Reijos are avid skiers and outdoors people.
Mikael is a third-generation chef who trained as an apprentice at his brother’s restaurant in Stockholm, followed by two more Stockholm restaurant apprenticeships and a few years cooking in France before heading to Sun Valley.
It’s this newspaper’s policy to withhold criticism of food and service until after a restaurant’s first month of business, which is why I’m focusing my first-bite notes on atmosphere and an overview of the food.
The restaurant looks much the same as it did when it opened in February. Back then, it offered a barbecue menu, which lasted until September when the restaurant closed to retool its concept. Rich and Ruthie Williams still own the restaurant, while the Reijos manage it.
In the dining room, the history of Eatonville is telegraphed through mural-sized historic photos, and the menu walks diners through the history of the Landmark building, which formerly was a car showroom. With its jutting roofline, it looks every bit the part of a ‘60s-era car showroom. Space-age chandeliers feel true to that era, as do the hanging shiny lamps (I’m guessing the glass block was an ’80s addition). The rest is a mix of country lodge, with stonework climbing the wall to wood beams. Find cushy booths in the L-shaped dining room bisected by a small bar. Soon, the restaurant will serve a beer, wine and spirits menu.
My brunch visit found a menu of breakfast staples — biscuits and gravy ($7-$9), omelets ($9-$10), a scramble ($9), French toast ($9), eggs Benedict ($8-$12) — but also included a Swedish specialty, pytt-i-panna ($11), a delicious tangle of fried potatoes, flavored with onions and mustard, and cubed ham and beef, with pickled beets on the side and topped with two eggs. It tasted like a Swedish version of corned beef hash.
The Landmark Restaurant
Where: 138 Mashell Ave. N., Eatonville.
Information: 360-832-7519; landmarkeatonville.com.
Hours: Dinner served 4-9 p.m. Tuesdays-Sundays. Lunch served 11-1:30 p.m. Friday only. Brunch served 7:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays-Sundays.
Event: Reservations will be accepted soon for the julbord traditional Swedish Christmas dinner ($30 per person), 6 p.m. Dec. 16.
Note: Gluten free and vegetarian menu items.