Scandinavia’s capital cities are a moveable feast of trending food and drink. Restaurant insider Rick Jordan guides you to the best tables in town.


Have you ever encountered a flambadou? Cast from iron, with a hollow cone at one end attached to a metre-long pole, it looks vaguely medieval – a device for stirring a cauldron, perhaps. In fact, it is heated over the embers and filled with lard or beef fat, which quickly sizzles to be drizzled over oysters – giving them a fire-roasted flavour. Back in 2011, Niklas Ekstedt was the poster boy for reinvigorated Swedish cuisine, cooking over wood at his eponymous Östermalm restaurant and drawing on ancient cooking traditions and his country’s wild larder – from beets and lingonberries to reindeer and seaweed. While the scene has evolved since then, so has Ekstedt, settling into his role championing Swedish ingredients (guests are offered a juice pairing as well as wine) and reopening his restaurant in larger premises – a destination dining spot that ranks alongside Petter Nilsson’s Petri, fine-dining Persona and the country’s only three-Michelin-starred restaurant, Franztén. But generally, the appetite here is moving away from Michelin stars towards a more informal approach, such as the potato, olive and hazelnut pizzas at Babette; while other chefs are beginning to look outside Scandinavia for inspiration: Adam/Albin peppers its five-course tasting menu with quince koshu and sweet-pea chawanmushi. And the scene is shifting outside the city centre to places such as the former meatpacking district at Slakthusområdet, where highlights include Solen (from the chefs behind Adam/Albin, with a menu that includes crusted squid with dukkah and salsa macha), Bar Montan for wine and the Hosoi listening bar, which hosts an electronic music festival this summer. There’s more than meatballs in this city…  


The Norwegian capital always had the super-fresh raw ingredients – from seafood and reindeer to mushrooms, berries and herbs – but was never a city known for its food scene. The New Nordic movement landed here a few years ago, though, with restaurants such as Maaemo emerging to win two Michelin stars for artfully crafted dishes, including an elovated take on the classic Norwegian waffle using beef fat and fermented grain. This year, Trondheim’s Green-starred Credo moved to Oslo’s National Library, with chef Heidi Bjerkan devising multi-course journeys through her country’s food landscape, plucking scallops, mountain potatoes and elderflower, while Katla – the follow-up to cult favourite Pjoltergeist - cooks up Nordic ingredients over an open fire using Japanese and Mexican techniques. But it’s not all high-end dining. Panu, where dishes include squid ‘pasta’ and fried chicken, strikes a party pose with DJs at weekends, Punk Royale greets guests with caviar ‘bumps’ on their hands, and Happy Ending, from the team behind Nektar wine bar, is an informal mix of proper kebabs, Guinness and mini-Martinis. ‘Eating out in Oslo doesn’t mean spending thousands of kroner,’ says Oslo-born food blogger Anders Husa. ‘There’s a new wave of dining in here that we call fun dining. Newcomers such as Betong, Panu and Varemottaket favour relaxed dress codes and vibrant music over white tablecloths and stuffy service. And set menus offer real value for money at the city’s top restaurants.’ 


Finland has plenty to smile about right now: it’s the happiest country in the world. That’s according to Oxford University’s World Happiness Report, its annual survey on wellbeing which ranked the Scandinavian country highest for the seventh year running. Perhaps some of that is down to the food.  At the end of May this year, Helsinki hosted the Michelin Guide’s Nordic countries ceremony for the first time – an indication of just how far its food scene has evolved recently. Take a look at Finnjävel, which began life as a pop-up but is now a fully-fledged Michelin-star restaurant that, as owner Timo Linnamäki says, ‘brings Finnish dishes reminiscent of my grandma’s cooking into the 2020s’. This is a city where chefs gather up seasonal harvests of cloudberries, chanterelles, meadowsweet and ferns, often disappearing into the woods themselves to hunt elk and reindeer and fish for herring and pike. Forest pine makes frequent appearances on menus – flavouring the signature baked Alaska at Grön, for example, and the roasted pine-bark ice cream. For a snapshot of homegrown flavours head to Restaurant Skörd, where every ingredient is Finnish, right down to the juices and berry wines served alongside dishes such as deer, beetroot and bone-marrow broth. Recent arrivals are pairing local ingredients with global inspiration, such as the French menus at Le Annka, set in an art nouveau house on pretty Huvilakatu street, the Mediterranean ones at Elm – the zero-waste sibling to Nolla on the edge of leafy Kaivopuisto Park – and The Room by Kozeen Shiwan, which draws on the chef’s Middle Eastern roots for its eight-course tasting menu. Meanwhile, for something a little different, seek out Bob’s Laundry, set in a working laundromat, which serves cocktails and Asian snacks – and will do your washing free of charge while you’re enjoying your evening. 


Hard to believe it was 20 years ago that the phrase ‘New Nordic’ was coined, putting a newly opened Copenhagen restaurant called Noma in the spotlight for its hyperlocal, foraged menu and innovative spin on Scandinavian cuisine. The rest, as they say, is history. Noma, long considered the world’s best restaurant, closes its doors in 2024, but there are many other reasons to eat out in Copenhagen, with names such as Geranium, Goldfinch and the Alchemist on the foodie bucket list for many – along with Kadeau, in the Christianshavn district, which puts ingredients from the island of Bornholm on the plate, such as the signature cold-then-warm smoked salmon, prepared over embers. Noma has been the training ground for many chefs who have gone on to open their own places, such as former sous-chef Christian Puglisi, who opened Baest pizzeria in the happening Nørrebro district, and Kristian Baumann, who dishes up Korean-style fine dining at Koan on the Copenhagen harbourfront – one of the city’s growing number of new-wave Nordic-meets-Asia restaurants. Cofoco, the Copenhagen Food Collective, has 16 restaurants in the city, all powered by clean energy from the group’s solar park. Ark, the first Nordic restaurant to be awarded a Michelin Green Star, is pushing the boundaries of sustainability, from its meat-free menu to the lamps crafted from seaweed and recycled paper waste. Meanwhile, in the former brewing district of Carlsbergbyen,   check out Kona, an izakaya (Japanese pub with snacks) from former Noma chef Philipp Inreiter, Aamanns 1921 for elevated sandwiches, Liquo wine bar, and Studio, set in a former brewery, which cooks New Nordic with a Japanese twist, such as a dish of squid with roasted chicken skin and fermented cucumber.

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