Friluftsliv, the Norwegian mantra for embracing and enjoying outdoor living whatever the weather (and the Scandinavians certainly know about colder climes) is looking to be a way of life in the UK this winter for those of us who still want to socialise. Here’s how to go full Scandi and live like the happiest nations on the planet whatever our ever evolving normal is:
Enjoy ‘fika’ at a Scandi bakery
‘Fika’ is the delightful Swedish word for sitting down with friends for coffee and cake. Many Swedes make it an essential part of their day. With nordic baking growing in popularity, there are several places in London perfectly designed for ‘fika’. While Tier 2 means you can’t yet go with members outside your household, there are no rules against tucking into a cinnamon roll that is as sublime as it would be in Stockholm:
A fixture for those who adore Scandi baking, the minimalist Nordic Bakery is now offering a wide range of its baked goods including its famous cinnamon and cardamom buns online too. 48 hours notice required and it is pick up only currently.
14a Golden Sq, Soho, London W1F 9JG https://www.nordicbakery.com
This Swedish bakery produces arguably the best cardamom and cinnamon buns in town and a small choice of other baked goods as well as some serious, gigantic rye, sourdough loaves. It boasts six branches across London’s smartest neighbourhoods, including Covent Garden, Fitrovia and Notting Hill, each with a handful of tables inside and out that are ideal for fika. www.fabrique.co.uk
Small yet perfectly formed, all the buns, biscuits and pastries plus breads at this bakery are made in an equally small kitchen below the shop and displayed enticingly in the window draped in faux autumnal leaves. There’s always a lit candle in a glass jar resting on the step to emulate authentic Swedish street style. Try marzipan covered sponges known as Princess cakes or almond tarts with cinnamon and apple (äppelmazarin). Seasonal specials appear throughout the year including a wintery blueberry soup, Do also try the wonderful moist, fruity blackcurrant and rye loaf. In the lead up to Christmas, marzipan pigs and saffron and brandy buns are a treat. Pre-orders require 3 days notice and can be collected.
24 Rose Street, Covent Garden, WC2E www.bareriet.co.uk
Go grocery shopping at ScandiKitchen
Bronte and Jonas, the Danish and Swedish founders of ScandiKitchen are respected as leading authorities on Scandinavia food in the UK with a fine cookbook to their name, as well as an actual and online grocery store selling all manner of groceries homesick Scandinavians can’t live without. Try the Abba brand whole pickled herrings, highly moreish mustard and dill sauce and sourdough crispbread, Swedish brown cheese and all manner of confectionery.
They stock the kind of Christmas gingerbread and marzipan treats Scandinavians hanker after too. The spacious contemporary dining room with widely spread tables is the perfect space for fika, a cosy catch-up with friends whether inside or on one of the few outdoor tables. Arrive early to snap up some Swedish meatballs for lunchtime, they sell out fast, and there’s a good, inexpensive choice of open sandwiches and salads too.
61 Great Titchfield Street, London W1W 7PP; www.scandikitchen.co.uk
Explore the Scandi dining scene
Ekte Nordic Kitchen, Mansion House
Outstanding Nordic food within the architectural splendour of the Bloomberg Arcade with a good sized heated terrace, Ekte Nordic Kitchen is the prime destination restaurant for all of us missing their Scandi holidays. It is owned by Danish restaurateur Sorren Jessen and Swedish born Robin Bjorn Freeman runs the kitchen.
They serve a superb range of smorrebrod, classic Danish open sandwiches including rare roast beef with celeriac and horseradish remoulade and crispy onions to skagen, a prawn and crab mayo topping with apple and celery plus sliced hard boiled egg. There are small plates served all day and more substantial warming plates including slow roast sugar pit pork with crackling, pickled cabbage and apple sauce and classic frikadeller with mash, pickled cucumbers and lingonberry sauce. The delectable cinnamon bun ice-cream is a must Better still Ekte now do delivery across London with UberEats and Deliveroo besides Supper. What’s more, Ekte are launching a series of virtual Scandi cooking masterclasses imminently.
2 Bloomberg Arcade, London, EC4N 8AR www.ektenordickitchen.co.uk
House-made aquavit and excellent gravadlax with a properly mustard-rich dill sauce are reason enough to head to this cosy Islington Scandi haunt offering many favourite Nordic ingredients in contemporary guises whether crispy “kroppkakor” with wild mushroooms, västerbotten cheese & cloudberry vinaigrette or birch wood hot smoked salmon with pickled beetroot, dill and Swedish mustard. There’s traditional Swedish rice pudding too with brandy-soaked cloudberries, cinnamon, honey and toasted almonds.
149A Upper St, Islington, London N1 1RA www.skalnordicdining.co.uk
Glamorous Aquavit is the London home of New York’s two Michelin restaurant in London’s St James’s Market. It has a beautifully lit heated terrace, a real plus for Friluftsliv. Try a , their house pickled herrings and vegetables, langoustine bao buns, Icelandic cod with smoked butter, trout with caramelised onions, horseradish cream plus Janssen’s temptation: a Swedish potato casserole classic with onions, anchovies and cream. There’s a vegan take on Swedish kladdkaka, chocolate cake. Home deliveries available too.
St James’s Market, 1 Carlton Street, London, SW1Y 4QQ; https://www.aquavitrestaurants.com
Visit a Nordic department store
The Pantechnicon is guaranteed to make the spirits soar. Defying all the odds, it is the most ambitious and thrilling new opening this year. It combines Nordic and Japanese dining plus retail in exceptionally stylish, serene yet reassuringly buzzy surroundings in London’s Belgravia.
The building, once a Victorian warehouse, is dominated by a hugely impressive Grade II listed facade. Finnish chef Joni Ketonen runs Eldr, the Nordic restaurant. He has taken a big Nordic leap from Jason Atherton’s No 5 Social and previously worked at restaurants in Stockholm.
It’s hard not to devour all the superb bread with fennel, honey and elderberry butter. Flavours are refreshingly different and showcase Nordic techniques whilst reflecting British seasonality too. There’s radish with greengage and a refreshing chilled almond sauce, exquisitely presented beef tartare with roe, chicken with lovage and more wintery dishes such as cod with smoked cream and mushrooms. Do try the sparkling birch sap “wine”.
The dining room has two tiers and all furnishings are bespoke Scandinavian with a mid-Century aesthetic. Upstairs is a vast covered plant filled roof terrace, truly dining within nature without leaving the capital. Unsurprisingly, it is the most popular place to dine.
Buy into the Scandi meets Japan style in the spacious shop selling a mix of ceramics, glass, jewellery, ungeants, toys, clothes, stationary and other desirables that make it good for gift shopping too. With travelling to Scandinavia impossible, this is surely the next best thing and many are clearly making it a full day workation/treat.
9 Motcomb Street, Belgravia, SW1X 8LB https://www.pantechnicon.com
Restaurant Hjem, Northumberland
Tucked away within a popular pub, The Hadrian at Wall, Restaurant with rooms Hjem (pronounced “yem”) brings the flavours and style of Scandinavia to the Tyne Valley with an ambitious small plate tasting multi course menu ranging from chicken liver with brown butter and plum to langoustine tail, to cod with cauliflower and wild garlic and horseradish ice-cream with apple caramel. All produce is sourced from surrounding farms and gardens.
It is run by Swedish chef Alex Nietosvuori and his Northumberland-born partner Ally Thompson.
The Hadrian Hotel, Wall, Hexham, Northumberland NE46 4EE www.restauranthjem.co.uk
The Salt Bar, Macclesfield
This cafe/bistro in the Cheshire market town of Macclesfield focuses on exceedingly good homely Scandi classics. Start with the signature smorgasbord served on a large knackebrod (crispbread). Scandinavian meatballs with pickled cucumber and cranberry sauce or Nordic fish soup. There is a fika menu offering Swedish apple cake or chocolate cake too.
23b Church Street, Macclesfield, SK11 6LB; http://www.thesaltbarmacclesfield.com
Scandinavian inspiration meets Yorkshire sourcing, surely a culinary marriage to aspire to with an incredibly enticing and wide ranging menu. There are pyttipane, a kind of rosti of potato, onion and beetroot served with a fried egg and toppings including Yorkshire made halloumi, Nordic style hot dogs, Scandi meatball toasties. Plus for good fika, there are enticing cakes including “Sultanaboiler” described as a mix of the softness of a teacake with the more cakey texture of a scone and “Spandauer, a Danish pastry filled with jam, almond marzipan, spiced apple cake.
22 Oxford Street, Harrogate HG1 1PU www.baltzersens.co.uk
The Nordic Cafe/Bistro, Bristol
Bringing a Finnish vibe to produce from the West Country, here smorrebrod toppings are likely to include Wye Valley salmon with house fermented vegetables, a daily special could be Scandi style stroganoff and Swedish, much lighter, carrot cake.
36 North Street, Bristol www.thenordiccafe.co.uk
And for cooking at home…
Inspired to try going Scandi at home , Niklas Ekstedt’s new book ‘Ekstedt: The Nordic Art of Analogue Cooking’ explores the traditions of Nordic food and open-fire cooking at the heart of his eponymous restaurant, Besides lots of techniques and tips it includes recipes from the restaurant such as braised lamb shoulder with seaweed butter; pine-smoked mussels; and hot-smoked herring with clams and heritage carrots.