”A swill and a sip, but haste – before Charles XI’s halberdiers catch us all in the act.” This is how things might have sounded in the year of our Lord 1694, when widow Anna Lindberg ran a tavern in one of our five small houses on the corner of Österlånggatan. The tavern was in fact illegal. Women weren’t allowed to run a restaurant in those days and King Charles of Sweden was known for his harshness.
A couple of years later at the turn of the century, one of His Royal Majesty’s farm hands had taken over the business and the tavern had become legal. And the business went brilliantly. The tavern was located at Fiskestrand where the archipelago boats arrived with fresh fish and the tourists of the time landed there to immediately pat on the tavern gate in the notable neighborhood.
Soon after, in 1715 “Three Kings” appears as the name of our restaurant. Maybe the poet laureate Carl Michael Bellman had renamed it when reciting a ballad in the vault? Later, when the Bernadottes had became the kingdom’s lords and taste judges, the tavern gets a little more luxurious status when it starts serving tastings in French. At the same time, the tavern changed its name to “Three Princes” and that was the name of the restaurant into the 19th century.
There are no fully reliable evidence that other older taverns existed in the neighborhood, only that our particular pub has been the place for connoisseurs, who also wanted to take a snaps. The neighborhood’s distinguished location from a traveler’s point of view is documented in the history books: “The neighborhood has the highest and healthiest location in Stockholm at the Northern, Finnish, German boats and the Winter mail postboats at Skeppsbron.”
The present form was given to the restaurant on April 22, 1969 when AB ICA-Restauranger opened the restaurant under the name “Five Small Houses”. The name comes from the restaurant spinning under five different houses consisting of nine historic vaults each of which has its own story to tell. It was also this day that we started serving Fillet of Veal a la Anna Lindberg, in memory of the first tavern owner at the address – and we still do that today, over 50 years later. We believe that the widow Lindberg had been proud.
The fact that there has always been a restaurant here since 1694 and the business has never taken any other form or moved to another address makes us de facto if not the oldest in the world, at least one of the oldest restaurants in the world. Saint Göran and the Dragon shows the way to the fifth alley from the Royal Palace.
Welcome to Five Small Houses.
Map över Stockholm på 1500-talet (norr är till vänster). Inringat finns Nygränd och Österlånggatan, som då kallades kvarteret Python. Map of Stockholm in the 16th century (north is on the left). Nygränd and Österlånggatan are circled. At the time, this area was known as Python.
The inner vault boasts a stern shield from the time of Louis XV and was purchased from Charles Marschal in Paris.
The lion (in the Lejonrum or “Lion Room”) and the cannons come from England, purchased by Peverdensy at Old Mint House.
The lower bar’s interior is from the old Kung Gustaf train ferry, and was purchased in Ystad. The rafters are part of the building and have been kept as they were at the end of the 18th century.
The entrance door to the restaurant from Nygränd is Romanesque and comes from Serge Bouilloux in Paris.
In 1694, widow Anna Lindberg ran an illegal tavern in the Python district on Österlånggatan. It was located in the first building, in the area we call the bar. We have served the Anna Lindberg fillet of veal for over 50 years in her honour.
The fifth building and the oldest, Hans Hanssons Hus, is from 1651. On some of the bricks in these underground vaults, you can see fingerprints that are over 350 years old.