Us London Swedes have it good. If we get home sick there are plenty of places we can go to have ‘fika’, our Swedish word for sitting down for a while and having a cup of coffee, maybe a cinnamon bun whilst chatting to a friend. So important do we think this ritual is that we even invented a word for it. What’s not to love?
When I first moved to London in the 90’s, it was a different story altogether and not many places to remind me of home. There was always Ikea of course. I used to hear my English friends moan about the horror of an impending Ikea visit, the assembly, the queues, the vastness of it all etc. Not me. I loved it then and I still love it now. All the familiar names of the furniture, some that have remained since my childhood. You can’t beat the business concept and what it has done to put Sweden on the global map. Wherever I go in the world and see that blue and yellow sign appearing in the distance, I get a little warm feeling of home.
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past 10 years you will be fully aware that the world has gone Scandi crazy with paired back and cool shops, cafes and restaurants catering for the style conscious and health aware and television dominated by dark Scandi dramas that have been gripping the world.
The thing I notice now, living away from home, is how incredibly on trend and innovative Scandies really are when it comes to cafes, restaurants, tech, design, fashion, make up, interiors, start-ups, music and of course HOMES. Due to our hostile (read cold) climate we spend many more months inside than out, so people make a huge effort to decorate and make their homes as stylish as possible – like really, really stylish. And no, I don’t live like that…yet! But I love feeling that I am part of a community that shares some common ground which is why I have collated a few Scandi places in London that I’d like to share with you.
My list of the lovely places that I think makes London feel a little more like home for me:
ScandiKitchen (61 Great Titchfield Street, London W1W 7PP) Known for its amazing smorgasbord this cafe/deli/shop is located close to the Swedish Church in Marylebone. Their online shop for your essentials is a must if you’re doing it Swedish style. They also do catering for all kinds of events as well as being a good port of call in finding out what is happening in London.
Blabar Nordic Living (3A Lacy Road, London SW15 1NH) One of my favorite cafes in London has opened in Putney. Who could have guessed? Great fika, healthy salads and sandwiches with innovative toppings as well as Swedish classics, such as cinnamon buns, chocolate balls and meatball sandwiches. Super friendly staff, great coffee and juices too. What you see in the shop you can buy as they carry an exquisite collection of highly desirable design objects (candles, jewellery, soft furnishings, prints etc). You’d struggle to find a more cosy cafe in South West London.
Stockholm Restaurant and Deli (109 Sheen Lane, East Sheen, London SW14 8AE) This small but perfectly formed restaurant/deli has quickly become a home for wayward Swedes and locals alike. Goran and Majvor are incredibly hospitable and provide a fab fayre of traditional Swedish dishes cooked to perfection. Their Christmas buffe (julbord) is legendary and what is not served there is not worth having. There’s a deli where you can pop in for home-made pickled herrings, pates, salmon or traditional cakes. Their catering is fantastic too. Pop in for lunch and have the menu of the day (dagens) that feature reindeer burgers, traditional Swedish hot dogs or Skagenrora, a seafood salad made by gods.
Nordic Bakery (14a Golden Square, Soho, London W1F 9JG) This super cool cafe (actually one of three now) serve great Nordic savory bakery products and open sandwiches. Be inspired by the selection of food and the design details whilst savoring one of their fab coffees. If you’re in Soho don’t miss it!
The Swedish Church (6 Harcourt Street, London W1H 4AG) Not ‘just’ a church but a meeting place for all Swedes and wannabe Swedes too. A yearly Christmas market has been a firm highlight for my children since they were toddlers and their talks, music evenings, play groups, Sunday services, support groups and cafe provides a focal points for those needing to connect to others, those who are missing home and feeling a bit lost. In addition it is THE place for Swedes to get married, have their children christened and later confirmed. A stellar and useful newsletter is published four times a year. Great articles and useful links. So good is this ‘kyrkobladet’ that it was recently nominated for the Swedish publishing award (Svenska Publishing-Priset).
Petersham Nurseries (Church Lane, Off Petersham Road, Richmond, Surrey TW10 7AB) This does not have a Swedish link per se. But if you are from Stockholm, like me, you will know about a very special garden cafe, Rosendals Trädgårdscafe, which is located vid Djurgården, a great green park in the middle of Stockholm, and has that same bohemic, whimsical yet rustic feel that Petersham nurseries are so excellent at evoking. Every time I visit, a part of me get transported back home. If you ever travel to Stockholm, and I sincerely hope you do, please visit as I think it would be a wonderful experience no matter what time of the year.
I hope you enjoyed my very special places in London and I would love to hear if you have any other suggestions for me.