When I planned my first visit to Scandinavian Kitchen, all I could think about were cinnamon buns. Or, more specifically: Scandinavian Kitchen’s famous kanelbullar, recommended to me by none other than a native Swedish friend. I’ve been craving to get my hands on them ever since I first tried their recipe at home; although perfectly edible, my lovely little buns were a far cry from anything you’d get in a real Nordic bakery.
If, one month ago, you’d told me I was about to visit Scandinavian Kitchen and not have a cinnamon bun, I’d have laughed in disbelief. What? No cinnamon bun? Ridiculous. Impossible. Not gonna happen. Skim through my personal food lover’s code of honor, and you’ll find “eating anything other than a cinnamon bun at a Nordic cafe” under the definition of “gross misconduct” (next to “serving pizza with dips and sauces” and “calling coffee with milk a latte”, in case you’re wondering).
You see where this is going, don’t you? I went to Scandinavian Kitchen, eyes all big and sparkly with excitement…and noticed, to my utter disappointment, that cinnamon buns had all sold out. Let me reassure you, though: my disappointment only lasted a few minutes, and you’re not about to read a whining tantrum of a review. In fact, this review will prove that you can go to Scandinavian Kitchen, not have a cinnamon bun, and still have a good time. I, for one, would do it again any time.
One of the best things about Scandinavian Kitchen’s team is the quirky sense of humour that shines through their tweets and website. Small, funny things such as a blog post on how to be a Danish in ten easy steps had me warm up to them long before I even thought of visiting in person. The impeccable design of the cafe is perhaps a bit at odds with this lighthearted spirit, but not in a negative way; I’m all for the down-to-earth people who don’t take themselves too seriously, and let hard work and relentless attention to detail speak for them.
When it comes to decor, Scandinavians have a style of their own, combining elegance, convenience and simplicity in a remarkable way: even to me, usually oblivious to the nuances of interior design, the cafe felt unmistakably Nordic. Spotless wooden furniture and Swedish Isak tableware aside, the “Beware of the Elk” sign on the way to the basement may have influenced my first impression quite a bit – and so did the back of the cafe, hosting a small and incredibly neat Nordic grocery store. The company of a born-and-bred Swede made the act of exploring it all the more enjoyable: just like I squeal in delight at the sight of Italian biscuits in Britain, my friend showed me all the brands and ingredients that most remind her of home. How true that one of the best ways to get to know a foreign country is learning about the foods that natives love.
Speaking of food: my oat, spelt and blueberry muffin, initially picked as a replacement for the cinnamon bun that fate (or bad timing) denied me, turned out to be one hell of a good choice. I like my muffins soft to the bite, delicately sweet to the palate, and packed with rich, luxurious fillings: gooey chocolate chunk, indulgent lashings of cinnamon – or, in this case, fresh and juicy berries. Scandinavian Kitchen’s muffin ticked all the boxes, and completely wiped out my initial disappointment; had it not filled me up so well, I’d have gone for seconds without hesitation.
Italian that I am, I couldn’t help but pair my morning pastry with a cappuccino; needless to say, my friend’s cup of filter coffee was much more in tune with the Nordic spirit. Better still, her very Scandinavian ham and cheese sourdough toastie smelled so good, I almost regretted not ordering it for myself. I’d say I’ll try it the next time, but I’d be lying: my next mission is to taste all the combinations of nuts, seeds and fruits on the yoghurt topping menu. It will be hard to resist toasted rye granola and homemade muesli on my next visit – unless they have That Certain Something in stock. You know what I’m talking about, don’t you?
61 Great Titchfield Street
London, W1W 7PP
(nearest tube station: Oxford Circus)
020 7580 7161
Find Scandinavian Kitchen’s menu on Zomato.