Sunday, March 01, 2009

Scandinavian Kitchen
61 Great Titchfield Street, London W1W 7PP

Lunch at the Scandinavian Kitchen was absolutely wonderful. I made my way there on an unexpectedly warm winter afternoon, and found the place crowded (pretty much par for the course, given it's proximity to Oxford Circus). You can see from the photo that there're people sitting outside, which is either a testament to the prowess of this cafe, or the warm weather, or both.

Scandinavians, I'm told, have a great sense of humour for all things ribald. I'm not sure if that's true as I only know one Swede well, and I'm not at all sure he's representative of all Scandis. But I digress. In any case, I found their sideboard just wonderfully quirky, and just the thing Londoners need every now and then so as to remember to smile.

Food: Scandinavian cuisine isn't quite my thing. I love meatballs and apple pie, but I'm not too fond of open-faced sandwiches or rice cakes. Nevertheless, this was a Friday, and I wasn't eating meat, so open-faced sandwiches it was to be. I settled on a small Scanwich smorgasbord (which I dutifully read out from the menu behind the server and cracked up while doing so, but the server didn't take any offence, bless him) of a Norwegian salmon wrap, Swedish mature cheese sandwich and Danish smoked salmon sandwich.

My verdict on the sandwiches:

  • The salmon wrap was good. Nothing too overpowering.
  • The mature Swedish cheese was fantastic. I'd forgotten how much I loved strong-tasting Scandinavian cheese, such as danbo. I even carried a 1 kg block of that back to London when I was a student!
  • The smoked salmon - as with all smoked salmon - was a little strong.

Beverages: I also opted for a cappuccino, that to be my sole caffeine injection for the day. I'm trying to reduce my intake for Lent. I'm not really sure what else I can give up as I have a pile of chocolate in my fridge, loads of cookies in my cupboards and have returned to drinking following the break-up, in part because I'm sad, in part because he didn't drink. And again, I digress. Anyway, the coffee was not bad. It was a little on the strong side, so I ended up having to add sugar, something I judge my coffees on. If you're looking for a good cup of coffee and Scandinavian food, I'd say the Nordic Bakery offers a better option. However, the Scandinavian Kitchen gets brownie points for serving them in cute little cups, and for storing the sugar in a smaller version of the mug. I just love this photo! Heh.

Prices: My small smorgasbord cost £4.95 and the cappuccino was £2.40. If you're hungrier, you can choose a large smorgasbord consisting of five sandwiches for £7.75. Pretty good value given the variety and the location and the fact that they didn't charge extra for eating in. And I'm told that this was much cheaper than what you'd pay for in Stockholm. I can believe that, having been there many years back.

Service: Staff were generally cheerful (the server called me "darling", but not in a gross way). And I love their accents. Having been here and to the Nordic Bakery as well, I guess it's just a Scandinavian thing to not be too helpful. I asked if there was a place for me to sit given that it looked quite full. The server looked at the back and said, "I'm sure there's something". And indeed, there was: a small table in between two tables of two which no one but a lone traveller would take. Perfect for my purposes.

Size/Ambiance: One might think that this cafe sounds just a little too cramped, but not at all. I felt that the deli just added to the overall cosiness of the cafe, although I'll concede that it wasn't terribly easy browsing the shelves, what with all the people around.

The decor is typically Scandinavian, if Ikea is anything to go by. Wooden furniture, bright red walls, cute little graphics and a little deli at the back stocked chockful of all things Scandinavian, including, much to my delight, tubes of Abba (no, not the band) caviar paste (£3.75), something I used to eat as a teenager back in Singapore. I really miss it, but decided to keep that in mind as a treat once I re-enter the world of the employed.

My overall verdict is that this is a great little place incredibly near to the heart of the West End and that I'll definitely return every now and then, particularly to try out the sticky chocolate cake I missed out on.

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