A Swedish Affair – Fika Swedish Kitchen

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So I was having a lovely chat with a girl reminiscing of a catch-up we had in London last year (we went to a boutique Nordic Bakery in Soho – check out my review here). I was so tempted to hop on a plane to London to visit the Nordic Bakery and fly straight back (If you think that’s crazy, you obviously haven’t met me – here is a short memoir of myself to help get you up to speed).

Anyway back to the subject! The girl looks Swedish and has a Danish personality, so she naturally has a fondness for anything Nordic and tells me about this lovely place in Manly (Fika Swedish Kitchen) which is somewhat similar to the Nordic Bakery in London. So I decide not to go to London and to pay this place a visit instead.

So today Life of a Travel Czar is bringing you a taste of Northern Europe…. It’s a rainy Saturday night and I find myself in Manly with a beautiful grey jacket shielding me from the cold. My face is exposed and the crisp chill of the air clings to my face like a yuppy clings to their iphone.

I finally find my place of refuge in Fika Swedish Kitchen. The restaurant has this minimalist decor (a bit like Ikea). There two girls that on shift tonight, they are Swedish (I think) and are amazingly friendly… The bartender seems to know what he is doing and the place is humming along with cool tunes and begins to fill up by about 7:30pm.

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On a cold night drinks are the go!

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Toast Skagen

Now for the entree, I opt for the Toast Skagen – Prawn, Mayo mix with dill and lemon (it’s the Swedish equivalent to the prawn cocktail). The mixture is divine, there beautiful prawns, creamy mayonnaise with dill, red onion and roe spread throughout the mixture. It’s served in a jar alongside some lettuce and crispy toast.

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The dish is amazing! I have a moment… this dish has me lost for words. I try to absorb every moment of this dish. I close my eyes to taste the tender succulent prawns and feel the roe releasing its distinct salty “taste of the sea” flavour over my tongue. Then I let the creamy mayonnaise flow through my mouth and spread its richness across every taste bud. The crunch of the crispy bread adds a contrast of textures to the dish. It’s a breathtaking experience.

I just wish this Skagen would never finish, but I as I take each scoop I notice with sadness the jar emptying… I know it will be over soon. Then I get to that point where the Skagen is finished! I am left staring at an empty jar, it was such a lovely, rich and captivating experience…. but its over.

I console myself with a sip of the Amaretto Sour – the nutty flavour mixed with the sweet cherry and tangy bite of the lemon juice gives me some respite from the emptiness of the Skagen jar… I manage to find the strength to cast an idyllic gaze across the restaurant and with the rain outside and everyone in their winter jackets, I almost feel like I am in Sweden… it’s such a lovely way to spend a Saturday night.

I am feeling a little better having recovered from my Skagen withdrawal symptoms to move onto the next course.

Cheeky Beef

The next course is the Cheeky Beef. Tender slow braised beef cheeks with beetroot potato and baby carrots.

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The beef is tender and so well done. Just falls apart and have a soft texture that slides along the tongue. The juices flow into the mixture and need to be absorbed by the potatoes to get the full experience. The beetroot provide colour and some sweetness to provide balance against the beef. The carrots are firm and add colour and some extra texture to the dish. It’s lovely dish which is oh so suited to this miserable weather…. hearty, warm comfort food!

The dish is paired with a lovely glass of JP Chenet, Merlot from France, which is so easy to drink and has full berry fruit flavours with minimal tannin bite.

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Another cocktail is in order, so a dessert style martini is chosen. It’s strong with the espresso, Baileys and Cointreau giving you a kick that you need while the liqueur really hits you. I love it. Keeps me awake but dulls my senses.

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Cinnamon Bun

I ask the staff if I can have one of their amazing cinnamon pastries (which are meant to be divine). It’s not on the dinner menu but they oblige (they are amazing – now that’s great service)!

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The outer crust crumbles in your mouth the waft of cinnamon is there to take you to the exotic parts of the subcontinent. I feel like I am back at the Nordic Bakery in London. The doughy inside of the pastry works its way through my mouth providing a sensational experience. It’s just oh so good. The large beads of sugar provide a real hit and further grainy textures to go the cinnamon. It’s heaven.

I had such a lovely time here – a night in Manly is always oh so fun… I finish with drinks at Wharf Bar and then Hugos before calling it a night.

If you ever feel like getting in the Nordic mood and can’t make it to Sweden – make your way here and you will feel like a Swede for a day. Do not go pass the Toast Skagen – it’s the go to dish here!

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