First we fell for Danish TV dramas, now we’re falling for Scandinavian cooking at the new Notting Hill café, Snaps & Rye, finds Sudi Pigott
There’s a real sense of ‘hygge’ about Snaps & Rye, the stylish new Danish kitchen/deli on Golborne Road owned by Danish-English locals Kell and Jacqueline Skӧtt, already well known in the area for their hairdressing salons. Hygge, if you were wondering, is the Danish term for a sense of coziness, warmth, friendliness and happiness when everything is right about the surroundings and the feel of the place.
It reflects the lively romance between Kell and Jacqueline – more on this later – and their evident joy in being able to bring their culinary dream, which they’d harboured for five years or more, to reality. ‘We were weekending in Copenhagen and being so inspired by the food, it got us thinking, “what would we call a restaurant if we were ever able to open one?”’ Snaps & Rye encapsulates two ingredients at the heart of the cuisine we love: aquavit and rye, the basis of Smørrebrød. Both of which we are making from scratch now,’ Kell explains.
On their return, they realised that changes in legislation meant that they could actually change the use of their Golborne Road salon to a restaurant, meaning they could remain in a neighbourhood they’d grown very familiar with and fond of.
Kell can’t help enthusing about how easy it is to make schnapps. He simply buys aquavit with a tiny bit of caraway and infuses it with his own mix – liquorice root and fennel seeds for example – leaves it to infuse for 5-7 days in a dark room and bottles the results, which are racing off the shelves. Already he is turning customers on to drinking schnapps throughout a meal. ‘It’s all about adding layers of taste, schnapps is very rounded with food. It doesn’t need to be downed like a shot.’
‘The Scandi trend is definitely here to stay, it is proving to be more than a fad and is not only about the food,’ explains Jacqueline as we work our way through some of the lunch specials including stunning salmon from the Faroe islands – so lean and tasty it could be wild – and a tartare with beetroot and potato salad served with impeccable rye bread. Exceptional too and incredibly comforting is pork and veal frikadeller (meatball) with blue cheese croquette and beautiful, spice- infused red cabbage and apple purée.
There’s an extensive choice of Smørrebrød, open-face sandwiches with classic toppings such as house-cured herring and ‘Rullepølse’, organic pork which is seasoned, brined, pressed and then thinly sliced.
Jacqueline explains, ‘preservation, pickling, curing and foraging are very now as are the clean, fresh Scandi tastes and the Noma influence has been huge, but it goes deeper. The Danish TV dramas have made a lasting impact too. There really does seem to be much humour and culture that we share.’
Their chef Tania Steytler, previously of Severn & Wye smokery, is not Danish, though she shares their belief in sourcing sustainable, organic and seasonal produce, and making all the dishes from scratch. ‘We love the way Tania mixes up her ideas and influences with Danish traditions, giving dishes a completely fresh take – though she makes great Danish patisserie too, like ‘Tebirkes’, puff pastries topped with poppy seed and filled with a marzipan paste,’ says Kell.
Besides plenty of food ingredients including Lakrids liquorice, many of the drinks are unique to Snaps & Rye in the UK including deliciously refreshing ‘Sealand Birk’ birch sap water, a potential contender to be the new coconut water. There’s a good collection of Anne Black crockery too.
Even the light-filled, clean-lined red and white interior in contemporary Nordic style has been beautifully designed by the husband and wife duo. It is accented by Danish design classics such as PH lamps by Louis Poulsen, an Arne Jacobsen clock and Kay Bojesen’s iconic monkey and soldier figures. Other sweet details include Kell’s photos of the Danish coast.
‘Luckily, we find it very easy to make decisions,’ laughs Jacqueline, ‘we have very similar taste that seems to converge. We’re not afraid of hard work or learning by mistakes. Our skills complement each other too. Kell jokes that I was born with a clipboard in my hand [she formerly worked in a demanding career in TV production] and he is far more creative. Somehow we manage to work together 24/7.’
Back to how they first met some twenty years ago. Kell was friends with Jacqueline’s neighbours in Maida Vale and they’d met informally several times. The neighbours went off to New Zealand for a holiday and Kell moved in to cat sit. He invited Jacqueline in for a traditional Danish supper. He never returned to his own flat. No wonder Wild at Heart is a regular haunt of theirs. ‘I used to get a lot of bouquets from there,’ smiles Jacqueline.
Pizza East is unsurprisingly a favourite too. ‘It was virtually our canteen when we were renovating,’ says Kell, who still manages to fit in three days a week at their Lampton Mews hair salon too. They’re especially keen on Café 202 Westbourne Grove, which mixes restaurant with fashion retail, and praise the friendly staff who’ve been there forever as much as the food, harking back to the importance of hygge in Snaps & Rye. Paradise by Way of Kensal Green is singled out for its great vibes and enticing events. They’re fond of the Cash & Carry across the road which has the most amazing spices and Café Lisboa too. Most of all they like Golborne Road itself, with its many different kinds of traders and the sense of the community. ‘We truly feel like we’re among like-minded one-offs here,’ grins Kell.
93 Golborne Road, W10 5NL, 020 8964 3004, snapsandrye.com