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May 6, 2007 08:39 AM

[MSP] Smorgasbord, American Swedish Institute, Mpls?

Hey there. Today I have 1001 questions about Scandinavian food in the Twin Cities.

Has anyone tried the monthly smorgasbords at the American Swedish Institute? Are they any good? Does the ASI serve Scandinavian food "regularly" at, say, the cafe in the museum?

Aside from that, I know that other sources of Scandinavian food in the Twin Cities are:

The deli at Ingebretsens in Minneapolis:

Cafe Finspang at Midtown Global Market in Minneapolis (which is run by the Ingebretsens people) :

Jeribek's New Bohemian Bakery in St. Paul for Kolaches

Maybe Finnish Bistro in St. Anthony Park in St. Paul (Chowhound reports as of late have been rather mixed

I've had rosettes and krumkaker at Taste of Minnesota and egg coffee at the Salem Lutheran church at the State Fair, but those are just once a year kinds of events. Around Christmas time I saw lots of lutefisk dinners offered by various churches.

Are there more sources out there in the Twin Cities for Scandinavian food I'm missing?


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  1. It's more Scando-American than Scandinavian, but how about Pearson's Edina Restaurant?


    6 Replies
    1. re: AnneInMpls

      I wouldn't recommend Pearson's to anyone who likes to exercise their taste buds. It is what I think of as the stereotypical old-school Minnesota cuisine where black pepper is an exotic spice. Perhaps the blandest food I've tasted this side of baby food.

      1. re: bob s

        Bob, honest question here--isn't blandness a hallmark of Scandinavian food, too? All those white dishes? Or, is it really just the food at Pearson's?


        1. re: The Dairy Queen

          To be honest, I don't have a lot of experience with Scandanavian food and I hope that Pearson's is not a shining example of Scandanavian cuisine.

          My take on Pearson's food is that it is Wonder-Bread American (think Old Country Buffet without the pizazz) with Scandanavian touches.

          To be fair, I have only eaten there a few times and there may be more exciting fare than I've described. I didn't see it though.

          1. re: The Dairy Queen

            NO. Please watch New Scandinavian Cooking on PBS, or remember Aquavit.

        2. re: AnneInMpls

          Hey, that sounds pretty close, actually. Do you know if they have any Scandinavian dishes on the menu on a daily basis besides Swedish meatballs? I see the lutefisk is only at Christmastime. What's the American part of Scando-American? The fact that it also has pie and hotdish on the menu? Or, is it because the Scandinavian part is Americanized? Surely, I will go investigate myself, but, I was just curious to get a weigh-in on this from someone who's more familiar with Scandinavian food.


          1. re: The Dairy Queen

            I think Pearson's is like a Perkin's/Denny's type deal but with small Scandinavian touches. It's food-service food. The atmosphere is great though. Like a 1950s small-town restaurant. I go there for that, though it's overpriced for what it is.

        3. TDQ, I was dutifully burning calories on the Mississippi River Road today and noticed that the Danebo place just south of Lake Street had a big banner out: Danish Breakfast Sunday 9:30-12:30. (Or something like that; it might be worth a call to confirm.)

          First thoughts:
          -- Huh, I never knew for sure but had somehow concluded this building was a retirement home...?
          -- What exactly is a Danish breakfast? From Norway I remember sliced meats, cheeses, bread and jam.
          -- Nine-thirty is perfect for me but sounds a little late for most everyone else.
          -- A quintessential VFD pancake breakfast is really about the volunteer fire department and not so about the pancakes; would this go in the same category?

          I'll go if you will.

          8 Replies
          1. re: KTFoley

            A danish breakfast should include aebleskiver. Think pancakes, but shaped to a ball and dipped in syrup, rather than um... pancake shaped and drenched in syrup.

            Tyler Minnesota even has a festival dedicated to these danish breakfast treats:

            Is that Danish breakfast this Sunday? I bet TCL would be interested...

            1. re: Danny

              Shaped to a ball? Before cooking, like a dumpling almost? Or, sort of bunched up into a ball after griddling? Sounds intriguing indeed!

              Maybe I need to put Aebleskiver Days on my list of things to do this summer!


              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                I've attended this in the past, I think it is a once a month event. I think that their usual breakfasts include aebleskivers and regular pancakes together with bacon, orange juice and coffee.

                Aebleskivers are made from a pancake-like batter which is poured into a special aebleskiver pan which have a number of half-round indentations. Butter or oil are added to the indentations, the pan is heated and then the batter is added. The batter is fried with the batter ball being turned during the cooking which should create a little pancake ball that is quite tasty.

                Danebo has special breakfasts a couple of times during the year which are somewhat more elaborate. There was one for Valentine's Day and there are a couple of others during the year. The VD brunch included other breads, sliced cheeses, and probably a few other things I'm not remembering. Their website is

                1. re: mnsnow

                  "The batter is fried with the batter ball being turned during the cooking which should create a little pancake ball that is quite tasty."

                  That's a lot easier said than done. Getting the proper heat on the stove is no small feat. Since our Aebleskiver pan is cast iron it takes awhile to heat up so timing is important too. While the batter is pancake-like (and we have used it for such) the recipe we use is primarily egg-based. Beat the yolks with some flour and stuff, whip the whites until they are stiff and then fold together. It's a lot of work to get it right but once you do the pay off is worth it. One more thing, the proper accompaniment for Aebliskiver is apple sauce.

                  As for the Scandinavian food, don't forget the fish! Pickled herring, salted cod, salmon with boiled eggs, onions and capers...Good stuff.

                  1. re: Sven

                    Sven, could you tell me where you get your salt cod in the Twin Cities? I'm hungry for it.

                    Second the fish recommendation. We have the resource in Coastal Seafoods. We make a lot(!) of gravlax in our house. Also, check Asian markets for flying fish roe - makes a wonderful Finnish mati (small roe is great for this).

              2. re: Danny

                The website describes it as a "Mother's Day Brunch" starting at 9am this Sunday, but I'll double-check.


                Also, they have another event scheduled that includes Smørrebrød for lunch.

                1. re: KTFoley

                  Oh no! The Danish Day celebration (that includes the Smørrebrød) is the same day as ASI's smorgasbord (which is ASI's last smorgasbord until the fall.) Which one sounds better? The Danish one or the Swedish one?

                  The Danish one:

                  The Swedish one (scroll down the page until you hit the Sunday SmorGÅsbÖrd is a Taste of Sweden for June 3:


         Danish one is only $3, but does that really include the Smørrebrød? Or does that just get you in? ASI's is $23 for non-members, but it includes a tour of the ASI and music etc. and quite an extensive smorgasbord.

                  How to choose?


                  1. re: KTFoley

                    Oh, they also have a Julefest on the evening of the 2nd Saturday in December that they describe as an evening of fine dining.

                    I wonder if that's worth putting on our calendar? and/or if we'd even be welcome or it it's really for members?


              3. I sort of hate to say this, but Ikea has some cheap, yet tasty, Scandinavian food. They also have the little food mart too. We get cheap caviar and smoked salmon in a tube at the food mart.

                2 Replies
                1. re: churchka

                  That Mother's Day Smorgasbord at the American Swedish Institute sounds pretty
                  good- they have a list of foods if you click on the link above-

                  1. re: churchka

                    Yeah, I was trying to avoid Ikea because it's just not unique to the Twin Cities and it would seem that with all the Scandinavian heritage in the Twin Cities you ought to be able to find "real" Scandinavian food somewhere other than Ikea. But, yeah, you're right, Ikea does have it.

                    I'd rather go to Ingebretsens for the grocery goods. I once had some Swedish meatballs at Ikea's little cafeteria. Nothing special. I'd rather get them at Von Hanson's Meats on Ford Parkway in St. Paul--of course, you've got to cook them if you do that!