Herring at Tre Kronor (Especially at Julbord)

For the past several Decembers, we’ve made a tradition out of attending the annual julbord, or Christmas buffet, at Tre Kronor, on Chicago’s Northwest Side. The Swedish restaurant turns itself into a Christmas jewel box, offering two seatings every night at 5:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. (except Sundays) and lays out the largest spread of Swedish fare I’ve seen outside of Stockholm. The centerpiece: a dozen types of herring, with flavors ranging from curry to dill. In an era where the experts tell us how important the small, oily fish are – both on the environment and our health – I love that the fraternity of herring, mackerel and anchovy are now considered the cool kids. There are plenty of other surprises on the julbord, including a nip of glögg to start things off, followed by deviled eggs, gravlax and a cream-laden potato dish called Jansson’s Temptation that still haunts me. Servers don traditional white dresses, and sing folk songs while you nibble from the dessert table. Note: the main floor only has seatings on Fridays and Saturdays this month, but the upstairs has two seatings every night (except Sunday). Go to Brown Paper Tickets to sign up. But hurry!


They don’t advertise or tell anyone about these special dinners, as word-of-mouth pretty much fills every chair at every seating.  Many years ago we sat next to Studs Terkel; who knows who’ll show up this time around. If you haven’t been, don’t worry. They sell herring throughout the year (although the dozen-plus varieties only show up during the julbord). Big thanks and shout-out to Todd Rosenberg (@toddrphoto) for the fine camera work this week.

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