Upton 43 is a Swedish-American restaurant that recently opened in the Linden Hills neighborhood. The front of the building is unassuming, but we were wowed when we viewed the interior, which is sleekly modern with a techno vibe. Tables and booths are available in the primary dining area, and a sofa-comfy lounge and a tiny bar sit to the right of the entrance. The pop music soundtrack was too loud for my taste, but as the restaurant began to fill with diners, the soundtrack was subdued.
After we were seated, our bubbly server explained that because the restaurant had not yet acquired a liquor license, beverages were of the non-alcoholic variety. Upton 43 is also another place that has adopted the “no tipping” rule that is becoming popular in the Twin Cities.
The menu was small and surprisingly eclectic, with the dinner menu divided into “first” (appetizers), “second” (main dishes), and “third” (dessert). For our first, we chose a molded chicken liver pate with a honey-vinegar sauce containing glazed blueberries and topped with a few dainty watercress fronds. Only two seeded granola crackers were provided on which to spread the generous amount of the delicious pate. Another first that sounded delicious is the dried apple and acorn squash soup with onion, burnt cream, and linseed.
We ordered three of the “second” offerings. Spicy duck sausage chunks, which are served with onions, fig halves, and toasted buckwheat, were not greasy and the sausage was spiced mildly enough to suit even my spice-skeptical companion. The melt-in-your-mouth poached salmon is topped with roasted, shredded cauliflower and sits on a pool of cauliflower sauce. Searching the menu for familiar favorites, I didn’t find lutefisk, but Swedish meatballs are available. One taste of these gravy-laden meatballs reminded me of my mother’s century-old recipe, nutmeg and all. The accompanying potato puree is a smoother version of traditional mashed potatoes, and the charred, thinly sliced cucumber adds a refreshing side note to the meal. We didn’t have time to ask the server about the desserts, but the $12 price would prohibit me from ordering one, no matter how delicious-sounding they might be.
At the time of my visit Upton 43 did not have brunch/lunch hours, but they have since been added. I would like to return to try some of the brunch dishes, such as the warm grains topped with pear, maple, gjetost (whey cheese made from goat’s milk), and vanilla oil. Swedish pancakes feature juniper, orange, and honey. For heartier, more lunch-like fare, check out the omelette with walnuts, onions, gouda cheese, and truffles. Several of the smorrebrod (open-faced sandwiches made with rye bread) sound appetizing, including the gravlax (thinly-sliced salmon cured in salt, sugar, and dill) and the medvurst (Swedish soft salami). A children’s menu is also available.
Because of my Scandinavian roots, I love Upton 43’s fresh concept of Swedish food with a modern twist. Upton 43 is not the type of restaurant that most people can visit often, mainly because of the high prices, but it is very appealing as a special event or date night destination. The service is top-notch, the food is unique, and each piece of tableware is a work of pottery or stainless steel art that provides the perfect backdrop for the petite and beautiful food presentations. You don’t have to be Swedish to enjoy this place; just go with an adventurous attitude and be open to trying something new and unfamiliar. Call or go to the website to make reservations, especially on weekends. On a scale of 1 to 5, 5 being the highest, I rate Upton 43 as follows: Food = 4, Service = 5, and Atmosphere = 4.