There aren’t as many Scandinavian restaurants as you might expect in London, considering the UK’s increasingly swoony love affair with all things Scandi (especially when it comes to interior design and moody female detectives) and the capital’s large Nordic population. Thanks to the presence of the Swedish School, many of the latter live in the Barnes/East Sheen nexus, which is where you’ll find this long-established deli, now also a restaurant.
Run by welcoming husband-and-wife team Göran and Majvor, it’s a small, homely place – domestic rather than designer in feel – with white and pale grey walls adorned with the occasional reindeer skin and birch branch, and a deli counter-cum-kitchen at the far end. Homesick Swedes pile in to stock up on crispbread, pickles, jam and Plopp chocolate and to celebrate the seasons in style: Midsummer with crayfish feasts, and Christmas with vast Julbord buffets.
Open sandwiches and salads are served at lunchtime; visit in the evening for a broader choice. The menu varies, but in general it’s a traditional affair that makes use of classic ingredients (reindeer, prawns, herring, lingonberries all appear) in hearty, home-style renditions – this is not the place for New Nordic shenanigans or fancypants twists.
To start, dill-scented gravlax (using premium Swedish salmon) is thick-cut and succulent; the herring platter features three kinds of herring (matjes, mustard and pickled – all top-quality, firm-fleshed specimens) served in the time-honoured way with sour cream, cold boiled potatoes and salty, cheddar-like västerbotten cheese.
Mains include ‘pytt i panna’ – a kind of hash, here made with sausage, originally a way of dealing with leftovers – served with beetroot and fried egg; as well as own-made meatballs. Dense and meaty globes (Göran’s own recipe), these are served with a creamy sauce and silky-smooth mashed potato, with a little bowl of sour-sweet lingonberries to cut through the richness.
Desserts focus on ice-creams and sorbets (some served with cloudberry jam) and cakey creations, but they’re not as tasty as the savoury dishes.