A bright, clean jewel in the centre of Notting Hill, Danish café-slash-restaurant Snaps + Rye is the true embodiment of that near-untranslatable Scandi philosophy, hygge. Its founders define hygge as a state of being beyond cosyness, “where all your senses are evoked by just feeling good”. And while total sensory satisfaction might sound like a pretty high bar for such a humble space, which by day serves open sandwiches and pastries, Snaps + Rye raises it.
Sensory nirvana begins with the service. I’m ushered into the simple, well-lit room by a waiter so genuinely welcoming I mistake her for the owner. She talks us through the four-course evening set menu (available Thursday-Saturday) with the kind of passion and knowledge that’s infectious. The cuisine here is Danish but the chef, Tania Steytler, is Cornish. The result is food that’s creative but understated. Steytler was previously head chef at Gloucestershire fish specialist Severn & Wye Smokery, and her respect for quality ingredients is wonderfully apparent. Take the third course, my personal highlight, an exquisite dish of cured salmon, scorched potato and Danish prawns – the saltiness of the fish and the smokiness of the potatoes perfectly balance one another, but every flavour is so fine and clean it stands alone.
Another triumph is the starter of tender asparagus, goat’s curd, toasted seeds and pickled baby tomatoes. The sweetness of the tomatoes offsets the sharpness of the cheese and the result is so fresh it makes the tongue sing. There’s also a delicate, tender dish of guinea fowl, honeyed carrots and rich black pudding fritter.
Every course is beautifully paced and I round off my night sitting outside drinking fiery ginger schnapps wrapped in one of the lovely, soft blankets Snaps + Rye have dotted around the restaurant. See what I mean about total sensual satisfaction? Meals like this remind you food can be an art form. It’s such a lovely thing to remember.