Forget the dark side on TV, Nordic food in London is positively glowing, says The Resident’s food columnist Tom Parker Bowles, and here’s where to find the best
We’ve devoured the books, binged on the box sets and lusted after those cool, sleek lines. Because when it comes to all things Scandinavian, we’re a nation in lust. And while the likes of Noma and Faviken – world class restaurants with assuredly local souls – continue to dazzle and wow, we’re less well versed in the day to day tucker of Denmark, Sweden and Norway.
Sure, we’re pretty familiar with gravadlax, smorgasborg and meatballs. Plus a thousand ways with herring. But look a little closer, and London is filled with all manner of Nordic delights. Take Snaps + Rye, a small but perfectly formed Danish restaurant on the Golborne Road. Head Chef Tania Steytler might hail from Cornwall, but she has Scandi magic running through her veins. Smoked eel and potato salad, aquavit cured salmon, softly seductive frikadeller (a sort of veal and pork burger) served with Danish Blue Croquettes, and even a jaunt into Sweden, with the ever alluring Jansenn’s temptation. Flavours are clean, bold and beautiful, rather like the room itself.
And talking of Sweden, don’t miss Hackney’s Cooper and Wolf, a much-loved café that not only bakes its own kanelbullar (cinnamon buns), but cures its own gravadlax. The kottbullar (Swedish meatballs) are lusciously succulent and have a devoted following, while there’s always a good spread of open sandwiches, on wonderful sourdough bread. For more Swedish succour, Hoxton’s Curious Yellow Kafe has a much-loved brunch, in addition to the usual meatballs, home-cured gravadlax and Swedish coffee. Both are filled with hungry expats, craving a real taste of the homeland.
Garbo’s, named after the great Greta, has walls plastered with pictures of the Swedish great and good. The food is decent, with herring featuring prominently, along with kladomar cabbage rolls and a good range of Swedish beers. While Scandinavian Kitchen, on Great Titchfield Street, offers Danish hotdogs (rød pølse), Swedish meatballs and Norwegian brunoost, a brown, slightly sweet cheese that’s certainly an acquired taste. For those in search of something a little more refined, there’s always Texture, with the deeply talented Aggi Sverrisson at the helm. He trained under Raymond Blanc, and damn, can he cook. Expect Norwegian king crab with black truffles and walnut, smoked salmon with pickled vegetables and cucumber granita, and Icelandic salted cod.
Even Ikea has its own ardent fanclub and you don’t have to face the shop (thank the lord), rather slip straight into the café. They not only serve meatballs and marinated salmon, but offer a whole frozen range to take home too. It certainly beats putting together one of those nightmarish flat packs. Nordic books and TV shows might be relentlessly noir. However, the food is anything but.
Snaps + Rye
It’s remarkable to think this delight on Golborne Road has only been open a couple of years. It offers a taste of Copenhagen that has really added something to London’s culinary scene, where every visit is a discovery.
93 Golborne Road W10 5NL; 020 8964 3004; snapsandrye.com
This is all about food from across Scandinavia. Make sure you try their superb crispbreads, tasty salmon and herring, and the great thing about this location is you can peruse the grocery and take it all home with you.
61 Great Titchfield Street W1W 7PP; 020 7580 7161; scandikitchen.co.uk
Coming up to a decade in business, Texture has racked up the awards, not to mention a Michelin star, thanks to its determined approach of creating meals that invite all the senses to get involved. It’s a concept to savour.
34 Portman Street W1H 7BY; 020 7224 0028; texture-restaurant.co.uk