The cronut might be the latest culinary fad in New York City, but the Scandinavian food and cultural scene has been humbly increasing in popularity. We’ve put together a list of places to enjoy Scandinavian culture in a variety of ways like exploring a Nordic grocery store, trying a Swedish liquor, treating yourself to Swedish Sega Råttor candy, going out for Finnish Rosolli, or purchasing your own authentic Norwegian cookbook. Red Rooster and American Table, the restaurants of Marcus Samuelsson may be the most well known, but here are some additional options in the city to explore Scandinavia without having to get on a plane.
Nordic Delicacies 6909 3rd Ave, Brooklyn, NY
In the 1980’s, Bay Ridge had the densest Scandinavian population in the United States. The community encouraged Helene Bakke and her daughter, Arlene Rutuelo to found Nordic Delicacies grocery store in 1987. Not only do they cater imported Scandinavian food and homemade dishes but you can also send gifts such as a Krumkaker Iron (a cookie iron), a cheese slicer or even an authentic Norwegian cookbook by placing a gift order.
Sockerbit 89 Christopher St, New York, NY
Tomorrow will be Saturday and, in Scandinavia, children will go out and pick their favorite smågodis, Swedish for ‘little candies.’ This tradition, known as lördagsgodis, “Saturday sweets,” inspired Stefan Ernberg and his spouse, Florencia Baras to open Sockerbit, which means “sugar cube.’ Along with a whimsical color scheme of over 150 varieties of all-natural candies, Sockerbit sells a Swedish coffee roll mix and falksalt rosemary to name just a couple of their pantry items. See the inside of the store by checking out our previous article about the shop.
FIKA 450 Washington Street
What’s a better combination than coffee and art? Swedish espresso bar Fika serves coffee made with 100% Arabica beans and hosts a mini art gallery by emerging Swedish artists. Fika means, “coffee break,” which is an ubiquitous Swedish ritual. The coffee shop preserves tradition with treats made by Swedish chocolatier Håkan Mårtensson and a weekly-altered Swedish food menu. Fika might be Swedish but their espresso beans come from Brazil, El Salvador and Ethiopia to create a unique blend of flavors on the tongue. Fika anyone?
Aquavit 65 East 55th Street in the Park Avenue Tower
Aquavit (Akvavit) is a Scandinavian wine prepared differently in each Scandinavian country. The restaurant Aquavit builds on Nordic cooking by incorporating new ingredients and techniques. They have an a la carte menu of the classic cuisine that includes a sweet chilled corn soup (with affilla cress), Gravlax (raw spiced salmon), and Swedish Meatballs. For dinner, they cook plates such as Kladesholmen Matjes Herring and Grass fed Beef Rydberg. The restaurant bottles their own aquavit, a white cranberry infusion made from only natural ingredients, as well as serve imported aquavits from Norway and Denmark.
Konditori 186 Fifth Avenue, Brooklyn, NY
Konditori offers Swedish roasted coffee and also sells Swedish roast beans. Konditoiri–which translates to the place you choose to go for a coffee break–bakes a few Swedish pastries, for example Coco Balls and Cardamom Bread (coffee bread with almond filling), and Kanelbulle (cinnamon rolls). In addition, they serve vegan and gluten-free treats as well as bagels, crossiants and sandwiches.
Try Xanté: A Swedish Liqueur in Select NYC Bars
Apt-13 115 Loisaida Avenue (Avenue C).
Apt-13 serves Xanté Liqueur, a cognac made with Belgian pears. The cognac matures for four years in French Limousine Oak barrels, which, as Xanté notes on their webpage, brings out the amber color and, the “fragrant notes of spicy vanilla and pear.” Xanté does not appear on Apt-13 menu but it is offered at the bar. We had the chance to try the Xanté-based Mojito at the Hamptons Chefs House this summer made by Apt-13 head bartender, Mike Flannery, and was the best mojito we’ve ever had.
Smorgas Chef 53 Stone Street
Have you ever tried Finnish Rosolli, Carlsberg (Danish beer), braised short ribs, or Nordic chips with caviar dip? You can try these at Smorgas Chef, a restaurant and bar on one of the oldest cobblestone streets in Manhattan. It started out as a sandwich shop and now the menu carries the basis of the ‘New Nordic Cuisine’. They have two other Manhattan locations (one in the Scandinavia House Cultural Center on Park Avenue). Right around the corner, Smorgas Chef also opened Crepes Du Nord, a French-Scandinavian café.
Skal 37 Canal Street
This Icelandic restaurant Skal, meanings,”cheers,” or “salud,” has just opened up at on Canal Street and it’s not even on Yelp yet. Founder Oli Bjorn Stephensen told Zagat that the room is designed to echo the look of, “an old Icelandic cottage living room.” Skal offers Duck Wings with red seaweed, Hake, Lamb Saddle and Arctic Char cured in lavender. The cocktail menu includes cocktails mixed with liquors like Reika Vodka and Nolet’s Gin.
Of course, Scandinavia is not only about food, aquavit and fika, the region’s roots are preserved in New York at several cultural venues:
Scandinavia House: The Nordic Center in America 58 Park Avenue at 38th Street
The Scandinavia House is the headquarters of The American-Scandinavian Foundation, which has been open as a space for dozens of performances, exhibitions, and activities since 2000. ASF is a non-profit organization creating an educational and cultural link across the Atlantic Ocean. They engage the United States and the five Nordic countries through their publications: the Scadinavian Review, Annual Report, and Scan.
Scandia 334 East 14 Street
Know what a nyckelharpa or a hardingfele sounds like? Scandia is a Scandinavian dance group that choreographs to live Swedish and Norwegian music at the Town & Village Synagogue. Their fall season starts September 11.