To be honest, I wasn’t excited about D (regardless of the CISV-induced Sweden/Denmark phase of my late teens) I was excited about the possibility of Djboutian or Domincan food, for some reason, but couldn’t find either. So, Danish it was.
While I couldn’t find a stand-alone Danish restaurant, there are quite a few Scandinavian restaurants in London. (edit: I just found out via Twitter that the owner of the place we went to is Danish! Perfect!) I had originally picked one out based on the fact this it offered Danish smørrebrød, the Danish equivalent of the word we know as smörgåsbord (which is Swedish…and the origin, though each Scandinavian country has a version.) However, this place was all fancy schmancy, so yesterday evening I hurriedly looked for other options.
I’m not sure how I overlooked Scandinavian Kitchen, but I’m glad I found it at the last minute. It was exactly what the other restaurant was offering, but deli style, way more casual, and for about a third of the price. And with an adorable blog, excellent reviews, and what appeared to be a cult following from all the Scandinavian expats in london.
The downside: it’s near Oxford Circus, the shopping mecca of London, which is absolute hell on earth this time of year.
But, we braved the tube and aimless shoppers (you’d never be able to tell we’re in a recession!) and made our way there this afternoon (Saturday) for a late lunch.
Scandinavian Kitchen is pretty tiny. There’s a deli counter, cashier, about six tables, and a mini-grocery store all in one space. It’s very welcoming, charmingly decorated, and was really busy the whole time (which could be a reflection of the season since everyone had baskets piled high with Scandinavian goodies for what I can only assume is Christmas parties packed with Swedes, Danes, Norwegians, and Finns.) Also Saint Lucia’s Day is coming up, so the restaurant was preparing to host some events for that I think.
SK is only opened until 6, and the main option is a smørrebrød plate of 3 (£5.25) or 5 (£8.75). Smørrebrød means “bread and butter” but actually refers to any sort of open sandwich. SK has about 20 (maybe more) options pre-made (daily, I assume) behind the counter. There’s also a selection of salads.
When researching Danish food (and Scandinavian food in general…those Northern Europeans seem to be pretty chummy), I read a lot about herring (SK notes on their website that they can make any non-herring lover or skeptic change their mind.) For one of my selections, I chose onion herring, and forced Pete to try the curried herring. For my other two selctions, keeping with the seafood theme, I chose gravlax and seafood salad. Pete got Danish liver pate with bacon, and smoked salmon with creme fraiche.
They were all delicious (much better than the camp food I suffered in Odense and Kalmar), and the perfect size. The pate was exceptional. Pete wasn’t a fan of the herring (more for me!.) They pickle it and it’s really slimy. My plain one with onions was better than Pete’s which was in that yellow curry/mayonaise-y sauce (I think they call it coronation here?) and with a hard boiled egg. The gravlax was really good too. I remember not being a huge fan of it when Mom made it, but I guess the Scandinavians have it in their blood. The bread (super dense, dark, and wheaty) was also delicious, and I think I read on the website that it is shipped in from Denmark. We also drank cappucinos from really stylish cups.
All in all, the perfect lunch. And at a really good price (you’d pay that for a mediocre andwich, especially in that area, which is saturated with sub-par chain cafes.) More filling than a sandwich too. Even more perfect in that it’s a few blocks away from the madness of Oxford Circus.
The best part about it, though, was that other than us, I heard 1 or 2 other customers speaking English…the rest were speaking assorted Scandinavian languages, so clearly they have a loyal, appreciative, native clientle. I bet a ton of the profit comes from their grocery store (full of licorice, Nordic alcohol, Wasa crackers, frozen Swedish meatballs, etc.) Also, the staff were really lively and funny and had a great rapport with a lot of the customers.
This was definitely a surprise hit, and so far the only place (other than the Chinese restaurant which I had already been to) that I’d be excited to go back to (and will, now that I know it.)
In conclusion: eat more Danish (Scandinavian) food!
Just go to their website; it’s really good.