Forget living in brutalist architecture. Try ingesting it. 

Belgian-German artist Carsten Höller’s new Stockholm restaurant Brutalisten translates the defining aspects of Brutalism into cuisine with a rotating range of dishes made from a minimal amount of ingredients. 

Brutalist dish from Carsten Höller’s Brutalisten restaurant
Brutalisten’s ’Ocean Whitefish’

The concept is the physical manifestation of Höller’s Brutalist Kitchen Manifesto - a ten point list of instructions that has more in common with Tristan Tzara’s Dada manifesto than Julia Child’s rules for cooking, with declarations like ‘decorations on the plate should be avoided’ and ‘we are all born Brutalist eaters, as mother’s milk is essentially Brutalist.’ 

Describing the Brutalist Kitchen philosophy Höller says: ‘I don’t despise elaborately cooked complex dishes made from a multitude of ingredients, but it seems to be what everybody is doing at the moment, piling up tons of stuff on a plate and layering ingredients horizontally. We go in the opposite direction. The aim is to dig vertically into the taste of a given ingredient and clearing it of the background noise.’ 

Carsten Höller and chef Stefan Eriksson in Brutalisten
Carsten Höller (right) and chef Stefan Eriksson (left) in Brutalisten

Brutalisten is not the first restaurant concept for Höller who previously created the pop-up club and restaurant venue The Double Club in conjunction with Fondazione Prada. ‘Both projects are social experiments to some extent, and in both projects, division plays a central part, but in different ways,’ says Höller. ‘In The Double Club, each area was divided into equally sized Western and Congolese parts and maintained as separate, both architecturally and acoustically. At Brutalisten, ingredients are cooked alone after having been divided into different parts, which are cooked separately in different ways, but then put back together again.’ 

The menu, devised by chef Stefan Eriksson, has been divided into three sections: ‘Semi-Brutalist’ dishes which allow for the use of oil or a minimal amount of other ingredients, ‘Brutalist’ dishes, which permit elevation using just salt and water and ‘Orthodox-Brutalist’ plates, which allow for no additional ingredients at all like crab cooked in its own shell. 

Brutalist dish from Carsten Höller’s Brutalisten restaurant
Brutalisten’s ’Mushroom Carsten’

The complementary drinks list features a specially made brutalist beer made without hop and brewed with grain malt only, as well as a variety of brutalist non-alcoholic drinks made from fruits, algae, and mushrooms.

Ultimately, Brutalisten is a restaurant well suited to those who prefer dining out to be an experience rather than a comfort. As Höller puts it, it is a place to eat in ‘a new, senseful way,’ where you can ‘have a good time in an unusual place.’ §