Anyone who knows us is well aware we’re Scandi-obsessed, and we’ve welcomed the heightened presence of Scandinavian cafes and nordic restaurants across the UK capital. Whether you’re a totally smitten scandiphile like us, a Hygge hedonist or just a bit partial to embracing ‘Fika’ each day, here’s sexton/seksten (16) little sanctuaries of all things Scandi in London that we’ve found, whether you’re looking for the best cinnamon buns in London or the best place for fika in London –– we’ve got you covered.
A caveat: we know Iceland and Finland, amongst other territories in this area, are generally considered ‘Nordic’, not ‘Scandinavian’, but for the benefit of this article (and the alliteration of Scandi spots; couldn’t help ourselves!), we lumped them all together! Plus, read on to the end of this article for a guest blurb from blogger ScandiNathan!
Owned by a Dane and a Swede, this Great Portland café and food shop Scandinavian Kitchen (affectionately known as ‘Scandi Kitchen’, in part due to their Twitter handle) is revered by Londoners and European imports alike, famed for their open sandwiches, hot dogs and meatballs with cold salads as well as their kaffe och kaka.
Its #ProudImmigrant owner Brontë Aurell commands this ship and celebrates all things Scandinavian, from specialist ingredient imports you can’t find anywhere else to raucous Eurovision celebrations every May with their own-produced score cards! We particularly love Brontë’s Scandinavian Kitchen cookbook and their social media and blog delivers Scandi tips, facts and tidbits daily!
Plus, when semlor season hits they sometimes have no fewer than TEN varieties of flavoured semla bun, so grab ’em while they’re around and celebrate fettisdagen in indulgent style.
With a tagline of ‘Dark Rye Bread. Cinnamon Buns. Coffee’ you know instantly that Nordic Bakery takes ‘fika’ seriously. Nordic Bakery on Golden Square in Soho is a simple, timeless yet modern café serving uncomplicated food and drinks in a snapshot of Scandinavian style.
It’s really more than a café, though. A haven of calm in the busy city, they’ve consciously kept it minimal – the tableware and furniture are designed by iconic Finnish designers –avoiding visual clutter and encouraging noise to be kept to a minimum to ensure the purest, most serene Scandi café experience.
Nordic Bakery specialises in regional bakes and open rye bread sandwiches from the Nordic region, alongside pretty good coffee too. They used to four locations across the capital but they’ve consolidated to the Soho branch for the time being.
Having released a cookbook already, founder Miisa Mink launched Nordic Bakery’s first lifestyle book Font and Flavour in 2017. 18 chapters give a voice and profile to their customers, telling the tale of how their products are sourced and ideas conceived whilst enveloping the reader in what makes NB such a strong brand with a designer aesthetic. Flicking through, readers can discover how a specific preservation of Scandinavian sensibility and a distinct sense of style has amalgamated to create a space that is more than just a coffee house with breads and cakes.
Not technically Scandi or particularly British, KuPP is a delightful find tucked away in the soulless sector known as Paddington Basin. Professing to provide “a little of what we love about Scandinavia proudly wrapped up in a big British blanket”, KuPP delivers aspects of Scandi style and cuisine in an easily digestible format for the British masses.
Serious about coffee and particular about provenance, the team set up shop in a high-ceilinged, light-filled modern space creating one of London’s most unlikely ‘hygge’ hideouts in an area crying out for something different. Not perfect, the service can be very lax, but this is a welcome British-Scandi fusion that’s a real coup to have so close to the travel hub of Paddington.
4. Ole & Steen Lagkagehuset, Various
A taste of Denmark, across London! One bakery established by Ole Kristoffersen on Copenhagen’s Christianhavn 20 years ago and another established in Jutland by Steen Skallebaek at the same time, in 2008 the pair joined forces across Denmark and have been unstoppably successful since. This is a gourmet cafe, very lush interiors, expertly-crafted pastries, cakes and breads and dishes of Danish inspiration. A little pricey but worth it, and quality dictates that little nudge higher in price but quality speaks.
From their first location in St. James’s, they’ve branched out and positively taken over London with locations on Tottenham Court Road, High Street Kensington, Charing Cross Road, Wigmore Street, Bedford Avenue in Fitzrovia, Eccleston Yards in Belgravia and in Nova Victoria, Westfield Shepherd’s Bush, Crossrail Place in Canary Wharf and in both Richmond and Oxford.
5. Fabrique, various
A bonafide import from the streets of Stockholm itself, Fabrique is a specialised stone oven bakery which is built upon time-honoured traditional recipes and handmade bakes including some of the best kardemummabullar you’ll find outside Sweden.
They’ve opened a hefty handful of places in the Swedish capital since ’08 and now they’ve landed in London, already racking up seven locations across the city: two in west London (Notting Hill, Kensington High Street), one in East London at Hoxton/Shoreditch and three in central – Covent Garden, Holborn and Goodge Street.
6. The Bread Station, London Fields
Bringing traditional Danish baking principles and olden-times recipes to the UK capital, The Bread Station in London Fields is a partnership between former Michelin starred chef Christoffer Hruskova and Danish master baker Per Brun.
100% organic and yeast-free, The Bread Station’s doughs are made using grain that’s stone-milled right on site to ensure impeccable freshness. Sourdough is the star here and natural fermentation is the name of the game. It’s a business that’s set up to supply to the wholesale market but there’s also a little café (and small courtyard) serving the bakery’s spoils alongside Caravan coffee every day from early, early morning daily ’til early evening.
7. Lisa’s, Portobello [CLOSED JAN 2020]
Serving breakfast and lunch Thursday to Sunday, and dinner all week except Mondays, find some of London’s best frassvåfflor (waffles), pytt i panna (a Swedish hash-style dish), västerbotten paj (a pie using hard cow’s milk cheese from the area of the same name) here. The menu is a little expensive and it’s described as ‘Swedish tapas’, which we’re not quite sure about as it’s not small sharing plates, however they do offer a feast menu at £38 per person. The “authentic Viking way of dining”, it consists of large sharing platters, served family-style. A perfect place for Jul celebrations in the British capital.
Though the original ‘Lisa’ has moved on, the business is in safe hands with a team of Swedish and non-Swedish staff ensuring it’s a Scandinavian sanctuary in west London’s Portobello Road. Passionate about hosting private events and filling the space with music, this Swedish space sure isn’t a shrinking violet.
8. Hej, Bermondsey
Tucked neatly on Bermondsey Square, you’ll almost blink-and-miss this emerald green outpost. A cute café with great coffee, juices, cakes and free, fast Wi-Fi, it’s the perfect stop-off if visiting one of the local markets (Borough, Maltby Street, Druid Street) on the weekends or a place to knuckle down and get some work done on a mid-week afternoon fuelled by coffee and cake.
There’s an interesting story here, as it was begun with the help of a large Swedish coffee conglomerate but has now gone independent. They now operate four locations (the other three being Somerset House, The Jetty Cafe and their roastery and cafe in Elephant and Castle) whilst they’ve branched out into a barista training school and amped up their wholesale business too, so hopefully Hej is here to stay!
9. Bageriet, Covent Garden
A cute, picture-perfect Swedish bakery down a secluded side street in the heart of London’s iconic Covent Garden. Professing to have the best Semla buns outside of Skåne, Bageriet is a squeeze if sitting in but has lots of fresh bakes, hot drinks and packaged products to take away.
This café is especially on the ball for seasonal bakes, find lussekatt med saffran for the feast of St. Lucia, semlor at Lent, vörtbröd at Christmas and smörgåstårta for any celebration!
10. Snaps + Rye, Notting Hill
Self-described as London’s only Danish restaurant, SNAPS + RYE is a contemporary kitchen serving ‘proper’ Nordic cuisine focusing on produce and provenance founded by Danish-English husband-and-wife team Kell and Jacqueline Skött, sitting on Goldborne Road in Notting Hill.
Breakfast and brunch is British-Danish fusion with rarebit and kedgeree available alongside Danish pastries, Skyr with berries and house-cured Var salmon with scrambled eggs on rye. Feast upon smørrebrød, veal frikadeller (meatballs) or house-cured herring at lunch (all around the £10 mark or less) and from Thursday to Saturday evenings they serve a four-course set menu (£37 pp) filled with weekly-changing dishes.
SNAPS + RYE celebrates fresh, sustainable produce, supporting British suppliers but also import the best selection of authentic Danish food + drinks including Helt honey, Lakrids liquorice and Sealand Birk birch sap juice. A contemporary – and delicious – corner of Denmark in London.
11. Blåbär, Putney
Blåbär is a lifestyle and design shop with additional café, its name meaning ‘blueberry’ in Swedish, set along Lacy Road in Putney, southwest London. A British-Swedish partnership from Sandra Linnea West and Oliver Goodier, who fuse their individual experiences into this New Nordic space in Putney (and an online shop, too).
Why the addition of a café? You know by now they are one of the focal points of Nordic culture – the Scandinavian culture often revolves around strong coffee and well-made cakes, so why not? Goodier and West suggest you “come to relax for a few hours in our upstairs living room, do some work, watch passersby, or grab a coffee to go”.
The organic & Fairtrade coffee and tea come from Stockholm’s Johan & Nyström whilst whole, clean food & treats come served on plates & in cups which are from their shop. Many of the materials have been bought over and re-used from Sandra’s family country home in Sweden. The idea is to create an environment to inspire and provide a full Nordic experience, which you can then take home.
12. Texture, Marylebone
A Michelin-starred Marylebone restaurant from Icelandic chef Aggi Sverrisson. It’s an impeccably stylish, yet minimal and calm dining room on Portman Street serving high-end Nordic-style dishes using fine British ingredients. Interestingly from a country famed for its dairy products like Skyr, Sverrisson cooks with limited use of butter or cream for a crisper, more sharp and clean flavour. A five-course tasting menu (with appetiser and pre-dessert) is £95pp with five matched wines an extra £65pp.
13. Söderberg, Soho
Café by day, wine bar by night, Scottish-based cafe and bakery group Söderberg (pronounced suh-der-berry) runs a number of sites in Edinburgh and this Berwick Street outpost is their first in London.
Serving breakfast from 7am daily and an all-day brunch offer, the menu fuses brunch and lunch favourites with Swedish classics, a mish-mash of delicious ingredients running the gamut from smörgåsar (hot and cold sandwiches) and eggs on toast in different ways to burgers, salads, meatballs and waffles. They also serve a unique take on the Yorkshire Pudding with their fläskpannkaka with pancetta and lingonberry. Their coffee is from Stockholm’s Johan & Nyström and their buns at the glass counter are too tempting not to be tried, especially their warm, soft, fluffy cardamom or cinnamon buns.
Opening ’til 9pm most nights, the lights get dimmed when you clock off work and corks begin to be popped whilst sharing plates, smørrebrød and little nibbles are served with wines and cocktails. For something to sip on, why not try their Aquavit Negröni, Cardamom Gin Sour or Lingonberry Cosmo? Their Swedish twist to the Espresso Martini with Lake Vättern Vodka and homemade coffee liqueur sounds delectable! On Wednesday nights they celebrate the Swedish concept of Lillördag (literally ‘little Saturday’) and have transformed their old Soho basement into a mid-century Scandinavian lounge, complete with record player and sound system and so often host live music sessions, too.
14. Aquavit, St. James’s
Another high-end Nordic dining destination in London. A younger counterpart of the Michelin-starred New York outpost in a slightly more relaxed setting (though to you and us, still in the stuffy confines of St. James’s). Former Lutyens chef, Henrik Ritzén is the London location’s Executive Chef, with the menu overseen by Aquavit New York’s Emma Bengtsson.
It describes itself as a contemporary Nordic dining concept inspired by Scandinavian nature – water, seafood, game, hedge-grown berries, wild vegetables et al. The dining room is extremely elegant and the architecture and styling is given as much thought as the menu, with notable design details from Nordic designers Georg Jensen, Olafur Eliasson, Svensk Tenn and Ida Sjöstedt.
15. Totally Swedish, Marylebone & Barnes
Totally Swedish was the brainchild of two Swedish women living and working in London, originally starting out as an online shop, providing those products bearing the flavour of their motherland and important aspects of the Swedish cuisine and culture.
Now, its gotten a pair of bricks and mortar bases with two shops, one in central London in Marylebone (not far from the Swedish embassy) and another in Barnes, southwest London. Both online and in-store they stock everything for your Scandi pantry from sill to lördagsgodis, canned korv to Kalles caviar, and kexchoclad bars to lakritsfabriken liquorice. A dreamy deli!
The Ulrika Eleonora church is the heart of Swedish prayer in London, but it’s also the location of a good café and celebratory Melodifestivalen screenings! In the downstairs cafe you can drink Swedish Fairtrade coffee, read Swedish newspapers and eat homemade cinnamon buns. There is always someone to talk to as well as free WiFi and guest computers. There’s also community message and help boards. Just a street or two away from the Embassy of Sweden in London, it’s near to Edgware Road underground station and Marylebone national rail station.
The Finnish Church (Lontoo Merimieskirkko) is based on Albion Street in Rotherhithe and also boasts a café serving Finnish food with a wide selection of products also available including Finnish sweets, frozen berries, rye breads, Auran mustard and pea soup.
There’s also a Danish Church along a corner of Regent’s Park in north London and a Norwegian Church on Olav’s Square in Rotherhithe.