Restaurant review: Fika, Brick Lane

TUCKED away next-door to what is arguably Brick Lane s most famous food outlet, a relative newcomer to the busy street is an oasis of calm amid the hustle and bustle. As cabbies and coppers dash in and out of Beigel Bake for their salt beef and mustard, p

TUCKED away next-door to what is arguably Brick Lane's most famous food outlet, a relative newcomer to the busy street is an oasis of calm amid the hustle and bustle.

As cabbies and coppers dash in and out of Beigel Bake for their salt beef and mustard, punters at next-door Swedish restaurant and caf� Fika enjoy a much more relaxed pace.

Fika is the Swedish word meaning, in very broad terms, coffee break. But the concept is much more than that and it is a Nordic custom that Swedes in Britain miss about their homeland the most.

Everyone's fika is different but is always about relaxed socialising, taking a break and chatting with friends in a cosy environment - a very Scandinavian idea.


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Our fika started with a couple of very Swedish dishes, pickled herring and kn�ckebr�d (think posh Ryvita) and reindeer salami and rocket salad, served with the house recommendation of shots of aquavit, dill snaps, vodka and elderflower snaps.

The result was a little bit of Swedish Midsummer in London on a freezing January evening.

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Next, both of us being committed carnivores, we couldn't resist the traditional plankstek; a juicy rib-eye steak served on a wooden board with piped mashed potatoes, b�arnaise sauce and a grilled tomato.

But both the reindeer sausage served with mashed potatoes and k�ttbullar, or Swedish meatballs, looked equally delicious, and there are inviting looking vegetarian, chicken and fish options.

Couples were cosied up to each other in the stark but still inviting room during our visit. Low lighting, candles and fluffy cushions soften up the concrete and untreated wood interior and the odd whimsical decoration - a Swedish flag, a Greatest Hits of Abba LP, a reindeer silhouette made out of Astroturf - are a constant and welcome reminder that this is a Scandinavian establishment.

And if we were in any doubt whatsoever, we were welcomed by the very Swedish sounds of Lovefool by the Cardigans as soon as we walked in out of the cold.

Fika truly embraces its ethos and friendly staff are happy to serve customers whatever they fancy, whether it's a full-blown meal, a coffee and a slice of cake or just drinks.

Ratings:

Food: ***

Service: *****

Atmosphere: *****

Overall: ****

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