Over the past five years I’ve spent in London, I’ve made it my mission to know of all of the Nordic restaurants, cafes and shops for those moments when homesickness strikes. Luckily, Scandinavia and the rest of the Nordic countries seem to be pretty trendy at the moment, so it hasn’t been too difficult to find Nordic food in London to fix an urge when it has appeared.
Most of these places are Swedish, but there’s a few Finnish ones in the mix too, as well as some that sell goods from all of the countries. But you’re probably mainly here for the cinnamon buns, right? Don’t worry – I’ve got you. You never have to buy second-rate buns ever again!
Nordic Bakery – The one Finnish cafe you can find in central London. They do really tasty cinnamon buns (especially during cinnamon bun week in October when they have different flavours every day), but the stars of the show here are the Karelian pies, aka little Finnish rye and rice pies served with egg butter (literally boiled egg and butter mixed together – it’s amazing, I promise!). You can see what they look like in one of the pictures below. Nordic Bakery also sells open sandwiches (just called ‘sandwiches’ in Finland…) on rye bread which are worth a try too.
Fabrique – A small chain of Swedish bakeries around London. They do amazing cinnamon buns, but I especially love the cardamom buns – make sure to try them out if you find yourself in one of their branches!
Bageriet – Bageriet is more of a patisserie than just a normal cafe and they specialise in traditional Swedish sweet treats such as little princess cakes and different types of biscuits, amongst many more. Of course, they also do cinnamon buns, which, by the way, smell absolutely divine every time I walk past!
Kupp – I haven’t personally been to Kupp yet, but according to their website they sell quite a few Swedish and Nordic foods such as meatballs and smoked salmon. In London, you can find Kupp in Paddington, but they actually also have branches in Exeter, Southampton and Oxford.
The Harcourt – A Scandinavian pub and restaurant in a quiet street in Marylebone, The Harcourt specialises in seasonal food and Nordic spirits such as akvavit and Swedish whisky. It’s a great option for a special occasion as the setting is really beautiful and the food is a tad more expensive than the norm. The chef in the Harcourt is Finnish and the mixologist is Swedish, so it’s definitely a very authentic place to visit if you want a bit more Nordic-ness in your life!
Aster – Located in Victoria’s new-ish Nova Building, restaurant and cafe Aster is led by Finnish chef Helena Puolakka and serves a mix of Nordic and French food, drawing inspiration from her heritage and culinary training. The decor here is really contemporary and light, and it’s also very much worth considering for a special occasion. I haven’t tried drinks here (yet!), but the cocktails do look amazing!
Aquavit – Located close to buzzy Piccadilly Circus, Aquavit is the most central of this bunch. The decor there is absolutely amazing (see photos below) and their food and drinks list is equally amazing. They have recently received their first Michelin star, too, so you know they mean business. I personally love their drinks list – they do a lot of traditional cocktails, just with a Nordic twist, such as a Scandi Mule with lemongrass and grapefruit and a Midsummer Spritz with lingonberry.
Nordic Bar – Not visually the most pleasing bar out there (I feel like there would be so much potential for a lovely Scandinavian decor inspired pub/bar in London!) but they do sell a lot of drinks from back home when I feel like I want something familiar and nostalgic. They serve drinks like salty liquorice shots, cranberry long drinks (kind of like a cider but with gin) and Finnish beer. And if you’re feeling a little adventurous, you can always try their wheel of shots – who knows which strange mix you’ll end up having?!
Sugar Sin – This sweet shop sells a lot of their own stuff, but also has a selection of Nordic sweets too. It’s a pretty recent find for me, which I’m so happy about, as I’d say that thing I miss most about Finland is the sweets. Buying pick-and-mix was a big part of my childhood, and indeed part of the whole Finnish culture. I’m sorry to say it, but the sweets in the UK just don’t quite compare (although I do love British fudge!). The main thing I miss is salty liquorice, which is definitely an acquired taste that a lot of foreigners don’t quite get. I dare you to try some and let me know what you think!
Scandinavian Kitchen – Scandi Kitchen is my saviour when I need anything Nordic as they have a pretty well stocked little shop full of both savoury and sweet stuff from back home. They stock a lot of things from Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland, and are great for seasonal buying, too. In summer they have lots of different ice creams, and at Christmas time it’s THE place to go for glögg (or glögi in Finnish) – our version of mulled wine.
Totally Swedish – A small shop in Marylebone selling lots of Swedish goods from different cheeses to chocolate. There’s quite a lot of overlapping with Scandi Kitchen, but if you’re looking for something that’s specifically Swedish this could be a good bet.
Finnish Church – The shop in the Finnish Church is kind of like Totally Swedish, but strictly for Finnish goods – with the usual suspects of chocolate, liquorice, rye bread and biscuits but also ingredients for larger, traditional Finnish meals. The church also has a little cafe which serves mean Karelian pies and cinnamon buns! Why not go full Finnish and stop by the sauna before you leave? Yes, it is a church with a sauna!
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