It was over lunch at Modern Pantry in Finsbury Square that The Handbook’s thoughts turned Scandinavian. The simple forms and clean lines of the recently opened restaurant’s interior – walnut tables, hand-blown lamps – were inspired by head chef Anna Hansen’s familial roots in Denmark, resulting in the Danish-influenced modern style of the dining room. Not only did The Handbook reimagine the design of our home living room… But we thought of the variety of Scandi-spired cuisine available in the capital, especially with Christmas coming up. Here’s our top five restaurants, cafes and bakeries in the capital:
Fika Bar & Kitchen
What: An all-day break
Why: The word ‘fika’ in its truest sense means ‘coffee break’. And that’s exactly what Fika Bar & Kitchen in Bethnal Green offers, not only in coffee and cake form, but also lunch, dinner and over a good bottle of wine. Tuck into classic Scandi fare such as Gravadlax cured in dill with brioche and a leaf salad, Fika meatballs in a red wine sauce with mash and lingonberry jam, and Swedish pancakes with vanilla ice cream, as well as Scandi drinks – think snaps and akvavit in blueberry, elderflower and lingonberry flavours to name a few.
Where: 161 Brick Lane, London, E1 6SB
What: The best cinnamon buns in London
Why: A classic ‘fika’ in Stockholm includes coffee with a sweet cinnamon bun – a traditional Swedish spiced roll, which Fabrique bakery in Hoxton bake fresh everyday. Situated in the railway arches beneath the overground, it’s the perfect pick-me-up if you’re commuting to work or weekend treat after visiting nearby Geffrye Museum. Not based in East London? Don’t despair – there’s a bakery in Covent Garden as well now, so you can get your Scandi-fix more centrally, and the Swedish bakery also bake bread to order for you to enjoy in the comfort of your own home.
Where: Hoxton, Covent Garden
Rok Smokehouse & Bar
What: Nordic kitchen in Shoreditch
Why: This new opening on Curtain Road in Shoreditch does exactly what it says on the tin, serving delicious smoked fish and meat from Cobble Lane Cured in Islington, offering an authentic wood-smoked flavour, which they also infuse into their ice cream. Yes, ice cream! The unique oak wood ice cream is definitely worth a try, served with peanut crumb and juniper blackberries. In-house, Rok make their own pickles, available at £3 a pop, and line the shelves by the kitchen in rows of quirky kilner jars. The cauliflower cheese with beef dust and almonds was another of The Handbook’s favourites…
Where: 26 Curtain Road, Shoreditch, EC2A 3NZ
What: Beautiful Scandinavian cafes
Why: For dark rye bread, cinnamon buns and coffee within a peaceful, beautiful setting. All three cafes boast plenty of wood and neutral coloured walls to create a feeling of harmony, with sleek furniture designed by iconic Nordic designers including Kaj Franck, Alvar Aalto and Ilmari Tapiovaara. The menu is based on genuine Nordic recipes and ingredients, such as open rye-bread sandwiches like egg and herring and Danish salami with brie, while their in-house bakery produces various sweet treats, like Tosca cake, a Swedish classic soft sponge with crispy almond caramel; Skoleboller, a Norwegian custard bun; and of course the renowned Cinnamon bun.
What: Scandinavian catering
Why: The Scandi Kitchen in Fitzrovia doesn’t just boast a café menu and online shop, but also a Scandinavian catering service delivering delicious Scandi food to your special event or party, perfect for Christmas work dos! Their ‘Julebord’ – a Christmas buffet style platter – lets you create your very own Smorgasbord from a selection of Scandinavian classics. Starting with the traditional first course of herring with ice cold aquavit, choose from fish and seafood including hand-peeled Swedish prawns with mayonnaise and boiled eggs; sliced meats and pate such as air-cured Norwegian ham on flatbread; a range of cheese, bread, main-course meat dishes, side dishes and puddings for only £25 per person.
Where: 61 Great Titchfield Street, London, W1W 7PP