The beautiful city of Marstrand is located at the Swedish west coast a few miles north of Göteborg. You reach it if you drive off the E6 highway at Kungälv, turning west and following the signs. Be prepared for over-wide and unsteadily-driven campers in the summer and inconsiderate moose in the winter. The picturesque old part of the little village is located on the Marstrandsön, an island that can be reached by a ferry.
We run into a colleague of mine on the ferry, who just bought a house here. Our subsequent restaurant hunt is based on his well-meant recommendations. This works very well indeed regarding the Café Berg’s located at the northern section of Hamngatan. Fortified with reasonable Cappuccinos and some nice sweet apple-filled bits of bakery, we conquer the island until, eventually hungry, we begin heading towards his second recommendation, Lasse-Maja’s krog just across from where the ferry arrives.
Lasse-Maja’s website is not quite complete at the moment, but it sports some impressive art-photography of the menu, which changes every day according to the products available on the market. We’re talking here mostly about fish, so this devotion to freshness is an excellent sign. We can also read the following: Lasse-Maja’s chef Richard Waje guarantees top quality in everything including the ingredients and the service. In other words: the guest has every right to have the highest expectations.
This is one of those restaurants where you don’t just plunk down on the nearest chair but wait neatly until someone takes care of you. So we wait. First there is nobody present. Eventually, a young man enters and vanishes behind the bar. He then turns on his heels and walks out again. Returning, he gets busy opening half a box of traditional Rosé bottles from Provence. After a while he somehow catches my eye and asks from across the counter whether we would like to follow him out to the terrace. Since the restaurant is empty and calm, but also dark, we agree. Following him as he balances his pink alcoholic load, we enter the inner courtyard terrace where our Cicerone leaves us standing and runs away with his bottles. We now realize that the terrace is mainly occupied by a large group of youngsters, and that their conversation is unfavorably reflected back down by a sun roof, creating considerable noise. We consequently decide that it would be nicer to sit inside in any case.
The waiter catches my eye again and by ways of gestures we agree that we will wait inside for him to return and find us a table. To make this short, it never happens: we place ourselves on a bench opposite the counter and wait. Our Rosé dude enters and fiddles around with some or another bit of gadgetry. A girl emerges from the kitchen, picks at her fingernails, looking bored and vanishes again. A gentleman whose wife remains seated at the window toward the street comes walking and demands with a loud voice whether he would soon be able to place his order. We try to seat ourselves tentatively at some table where we remain for a while. Some tourists enter noisily, step up to the counter, retrieve a bunch of menus (by magic, no doubt) and vanish out in the yard. Nobody catches our eye now. We then leave Lasse-Maja’s krog.
I am sad to report that if Richard Waje believes that the service of his establishment is as good as his kitchen seems to be (according to my friend’s judgment), he is fooling himself in a most gigantic and tragic manner. True, it is reassuring to know that he is willing and able to select fresh fish on the market. In the choice of his personnel, however, he seems to be substantially less sure-handed. In Mr. Waje’s place I would advise Mrs. Pick Her Fingernails and Mr. Bottles Of Rosé to find their luck elsewhere and I would then try to get hold of some real waiters.