Ever since the Vikings invaded the eastern shore of the United Kingdom in the latter part of the 8th century, those pesky Scandi’s have brought their Norse nous to a whole host of British institutions, and for the most part, improved them.
Not much has changed – the Scandinavian influence is still apparent across the UK – and in particular when it comes to getting fed and beveraged. (that’s not a word. But it should be).
I’ve had the pleasure of visiting a whole spectrum of Nordic-style eateries in the London area over the past few years – and here’s my Top Five places to visit if you’re after a Scandi-fix:
Scandikitchen – a café-come-grocery store located close to the BBC, and home to the UK’s largest (and best) online Scandi-related grocery business. Skandikitchen is run by Brontë Aurell, who must be the UK’s best quoted Dane- and for good reason. She’s produced a whole host of cooking and lifestyle books over the past few years – and is unofficial spokesperson for “Hygge” and “Fika”. And she’s a bloody nice person to be around.
The Scandikitchen cafe serves a perfect smorgasbord of Scandinavian classics, including open sandwiches and cardamon soft dough pastries. And in late January/early February its the best place in the British Isles to get your fix of Semlar.
Ole & Steen Lagkagehuset – the newest addition to the London Nordic baking scene. The guys at Ole & Steen have imported their Lagkagehuset café concept brick-for-brick into a prime location on London’s Haymarket (on St James Market). What i love is that it’s located in a building which IS an almost straight copy of the building where they started in Copenhagen – a “Layer Cake” house.
If you’ve enjoyed their produce in Denmark, you’ll be excited to know that the London flagship is a copy/paste of what you find 500 miles to the east. It’s their first outside of Danish shores – and it’s been rumoured that they’re looking to add many more in the UK during the next few years.
Nordic Bakery – now this is Nordic Noir. Just as a bakery cafe. They’re now in several locations across the capital, and all have the edgy Scandi attitude. Their Soho cafe has a fabulously heavy wooden front door, that needs lumberjack-like strength to open, but once inside you’re greeted by warmth and the sweet smell of lingonberry. I’d like to recommend their freshly made Karelian Pie – which is a Finnish pastry made from rice pudding. But i, frankly, can’t stand the thing. However, I give massive Kudos to them for stocking it 🙂
Snaps & Rye – billing itself as “London’s only Danish restaurant” – (what happened to Lundums? If you know, please leave a comment.. I loved that place!) – Notting Hill based S&R goes all-in on the Danishness. From the decor and classic design chairs, to a menu showcasing Smørrebrød and Frikadeller, it’s rightly at the top of Time Out London’s best places to eat. And it’s definitely the best classical Danish place.
Aquavit London – now, diclaimer: I’ve not eaten here yet. But that shouldn’t stop it being in my Top Five. It’s located next to Ole & Steen (see above) completing a 1-2 of Danish-inspired food in Haymarket. Like O&S it opened very recently (early 2017?). Aquavit was imported via Manhattan – and peering through their windows, it has a very Upper East meets Hellerup look to it. I’ll go back and eat lunch here when someone else is paying! (just email me if you’re offering!).
If you’ve got any other suggestions on where to get your Scandinavian food fix, please leave a comment below.