Next to the cascading river in the beautiful Mårdseleforsen Nature Reserve is Wild River Restaurant – recognised as one of the 300 best restaurants in the Nordic region. A constantly changing menu composed of ingredients from local producers is served here, together with plants, mushrooms and berries that the restaurant owners have foraged themselves in the nearby Ajaur forest.
The Wild River Restaurant, which busily serves customers from mid-May to the end of August, opened in 2018 and quickly became a huge success. It has already received several award nominations and an entry in the prestigious White Guide Nordic, which features 300 of the best restaurants in the region. Wild River Restaurant works with a consistent focus on sustainability, creating the absolute best dining experience with ingredients found along the River Vindel (Vindelälven).
Mårdselforsen nature reserve. Photo Philip Avesand
“Local farmers and suppliers provide us with fantastic raw ingredients and products. And then there are the plants, mushrooms and berries that fill the forest at different times of the year that we pick ourselves. We are constantly trying to adapt our dishes to the northern summer season”, says Freddy Holmgren, Chef and Owner of Wild River Restaurant.
“It should come as no surprise that we serve a birch dessert with birch bark parfait, birch meringue or a granita made with birch shoots and birch syrup"
- Freddy Holmgren
Green pine cones, rowan flowers and meadowsweet are among the ingredients they forage and incorporate in their menu. With sustainability at the very heart of the business, it is important for everyone working at the restaurant that the forest is given a chance to regenerate itself, and that Sweden’s Right of Public Access is always respected.
“I'm always extremely careful. For example, if I pick spruce shoots from a tree, I only pick a third of what I can reach and then I skip a few trees. For the sake of the animals it is important the forest is allowed to develop as nature intended”, says Emma Wåhlstedt, Manager at Wild River Restaurant.
Freddy Holmberg points out that no dishes featuring tuna from Japan or meat from Ireland will ever be served at the restaurant. Instead the focus is entirely on local produce.
“Tuna is not naturally found in our region, but I might catch a nice pike that we can create a wonderful northern dish with”, he says.
Wild River Restaurant works with a number of local producers, who supply them with everything from meat and vegetables to bread and beer. During the winters, when the restaurant is closed, the staff try to visit as many of them as possible in order to build strong personal relationships and learn more about the produce they provide.
“It is important to us that food is treated with respect, and that the farmers are passionate about what they do and really care about their animals and plants”, says Freddy Holmgren
Photo Philip Avesand