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Feb 21, 2003 09:36 PM

Swedish Food? Where?

  • k

Hi -- Where can we get (not too expensive) Swedish food in the Bay Area? Besides IKEA? My partner is on a Swedish kick.
We live in San Mateo, so the closer to here, the better.
Thanks, Kim

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  1. here's a link to many things Swedish....including restaurants. good idea to avoid Ikea, especially the meatballs - not worth the wait.


    3 Replies
    1. re: gordon wing

      Thanks for the link -- lots of good stuff, but I guess there aren't many Swedish restaurants around...

      1. re: Kim Cooper

        I hate to admit it, but I have forgotten the name of the Swedish restaurant that the cashier at the Nordic House told me. Not a bakery, but an actual restaurant she recommended. You might call Nordic House and see if they can give you a recommendation for a good Swedish/Scandinavian restaurant.

      2. re: gordon wing

        Off of that link:

        The Nordic House (Telegraph in Oakland) has seen a couple of postings here in the past -- usually about their winter feast, I believe? Driven by it, haven't made it in yet. Nearby is the Nedlam Bakery, so even if it doesn't work out, you can get some great donuts. ;-)

        I've been in the Sweden House Bakery in Tiburon. Seemed more like a tourist spot to me. Then again, I was only in Stockholm for about ten hours, and am not a huge bakery person, so I'd have a hard time telling what was "authentic". But it wouldn't be my first stop.

      3. SCANDIA is a new restaurant in San Mateo (previously in Redwood City by another name I believe) and one where we will be going very shortly.

        I have heard good things about their food (breakfast, lunch and dinner) which offers both Scandinavian and American food.

        742 Polhemus Rd
        San Mateo, CA 94402
        Get Directions
        Phone number (650) 372-0888

        1. my limited understanding of Swedish culture comes from reading Mankell and seeing some television programs produced and filmed there. the Swedish people portrayed therein don't seem particularly attached to their own foods -- popular choices portrayed include sandwiches, pizza, Thai and Indian foods.

          what is their cuisine noted for ? pickled fish, or is that in the other countries in the region ? the noted chef Marcus Samuelsson started his U.S. career auspiciously in NY, the youngest chef at the time to get three stars from the nytimes, at Aquavit, but it appears his restaurants here after his debut stayed away from what he termed 'new Scandinavian cuisine'. of course that might also be different than what you're searching for.

          11 Replies
          1. re: moto

            "what is their cuisine noted for ?"

            Smörgåsbord (literally, sandwich table) -- Sweden's answer to zakuski, Mezés, dim sum, Nhâu, etc. etc. etc. etc. Enjoyed a US vogue in middle decades of 20th century, evident in cookbooks from then (and I recall many more public references to both the word and the buffet, decades ago).

            Lingonberries, as a dressing for either game or pancakes. IMO, lingonberries rock: best features of currants and cranberries, combined.

            I believe the pickled (and smoked) fish ("gravlax" = buried, literally "graved," lox) are regional, wider than just Sweden.

            A not-half-bad restaurant called The Swedish Place used to thrive next to a hotel on the coast near Half-Moon Bay, the distinctive Swedish flag making it a landmark. They'd stuff pieces of beef filet with blue cheese before cooking -- decadently delicious, and uncommon elsewhere at the time.

            1. re: eatzalot

              "I believe the pickled (and smoked) fish ("gravlax" = buried, literally "graved," lox) are regional, wider than just Sweden."

              Sweden, Norway, and Denmark, have almost identical concepts of smorgasbords with pickled herring dishes. Just because the dish exists in another cuisine, does it mean that you can say that is is not part of say, Danish or Swedish cuisine? To me, saying that a dish is part of a particular cuisine just means that it has a longstanding tradition of being part of that food tradition, not that that there couldn't be other countries with similar dishes.

              Case in point, cloudberries. Cloudberries are highly coveted in both Sweden and Norway as well as in many other countries. They grow in Sweden and they grow in Norway and there are longstanding local traditions for harvesting them. Let's say there is a very marginal difference in how they are used in Sweden and Norway. Does that mean that a cloudberry dish produce in Norway is a Norwegian one or a regional one?

              1. re: nocharge

                Russia too cherishes a tradition (of "tea" meals built on bread and spreads -- humble in principle, potentially opulent in variety of foods, and distinct from the legendary zakuski) sharing elements with the Swedish "sandwich table." The broad subject of such meals is fascinating IMO.

                Not quite sure of your point or reason for the questions, nocharge; but as stated above, I addressed moto's question ("what is their cuisine noted for?") constructively -- gravlax being among my answers although not limited to Sweden or even Scandinavia, of course -- and am interested if you have more to add on this question.

                1. re: eatzalot

                  I think the point is that if pickled fish has a longstanding roll in Sweden, then its part of Swedish cuisine even if the same dish also happens to be part of Danish cuisine. The whole thing about "regional" is a red herring.

                  1. re: nocharge

                    nocharge, FYI the only herrings in this thread are the pickled kind. moto inquired what are well-known Swedish specialties. Along with a few answers, I added the supplemental information that some of these specialties are enjoyed beyond Sweden -- no further message there. The same holds, of course, for many other foods worldwide.

                    Again, I think more information on typical Swedish food (whether it happens to be unique to that nation or not) would likely be welcome here.

            2. re: moto

              I know four Swedish chefs in SF:

              Pelle Nilsson who used to own the Swedish House in Half Moon Bay but now mainly does catering for Scandinavian events.

              Robban Sundell who does Swedish food at Plaj.

              Ola Fendert who does New American at Oola.

              Staffan Terje who does Italian at Perbacco.

              So only half of those guys do Swedish food and I find it a little odd to suggest that if a chef sets up shop in a different country, it's to serve food from his home country.

              As for Swedes not caring for their own food, that's just incorrect. It's just that in-between people traveling more and getting exposed to different cultures, refugees, immigrants, the onslaught of American fast food, etc, people have a larger variety of choices. And many of the ethnic foods are a good fit for a quick casual meal, possibly take-out, whereas the upper echelon of traditional Swedish dishes would be better suited for a sit-down dinner.

              I doubt there was a single place in Sweden in 1955 where you could get a sushi roll and now you can get them everywhere, but that's hardly a sign that Swedes don't care for Swedish food.

              1. re: nocharge

                thought it was clear that my description and impression came from fictional portrayals of folks in Sweden, but o.k. if you wish to think that differentiation is beyond my feeble means.
                met chef Terje at a benefit for the tsunami disaster, enjoyed his food very much.
                only mentioned Samuelsson because he was fairly unique in NY in the late 80s and quite successful -- and his success might have encouraged others, because there seems to be more places with 'new Scandinavian cuisine' now, Plaj possibly one of them.

                1. re: nocharge

                  Pelle Nillson also operates a food truck, The Nordic Truck which frequently appears at the SoMa StrEat Food Park and is one of my personal favorites.

                  1. re: soupçon

                    thank you again, xiao yang. sausage and mashed potatoes combined in a flat bread wrap w. a salad -- sometimes it's shrimp salad apparently -- sounds like another variation of the 'new Scandinavian cuisine '.

                    the tunnbrødsrulle appears to be well engineered for a hand held food that includes plenty of carbs, protein, fat, even veg, that people who drink all night (long nights up there in Sweden ?) can count on to keep them going.

                    1. re: moto

                      "sounds like another variation of the 'new Scandinavian cuisine '"

                      Not really. Flat bread wraps have a long tradition in Sweden with a lot of variations as to what can go inside.

                      One of the more popular varieties. renklämma, would be a tunnbröd wrap containing smoked reindeer meat, butter, possibly cheese, horseradish, a leaf of lettuce, but even for this particular dish, there are a bunch of different recipes. It is indeed a very versatile dish that can be eaten in a lot of different situations (breakfast, lunch, snack, etc).

              2. Plaj near SF Civic Center is more generally Scandinavian, a bit pricey for small plates but the menu looks wonderful:


                1. Off topic, but there was a Swedish restaurant near Cafe du Nord on Market years ago. Might have been connected to the Swedish Fisherman's Home which was around there as well. Buffet style. Used to go with my brother. Anyone remember?

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: essvee

                    Wow, near Cafe du Nord? Must have been at least 25 years ago, right?