There’s something to be said about Scandi food. And no, I’m not going to wax lyrical about the actual food because Lord knows I’m not the brightest foodie in the house, but seriously, those Scandinavians, are they tall and hot or what?
I mean, look at them. And then look at me. Oh you don’t see me? Sorry lower your gaze about two feet and oh there! There I am, three feet from the ground.
What is it that they feed these guys so they are super tall, super hot and super… well I don’t know if they’re all super smart but for arguments’ sake, let’s say they’re also super smart. Whatever it is they eat, I want some because I’m sure, I’m really sure, that at 30, I’m still growing, right?
Because I can’t be this short my whole life right? Right….?!
Whatever. I figure that if I let myself loose on a Scandinavian smorgasbord buffet, I would have some semblance of a chance to grow an inch or two right there on the spot.
And if I don’t? Well, it still tastes pretty darn good… and with that excuse safely tucked under my arm, I headed off to Madsen last Saturday evening, ready for a Scandi assault.
Madsen Restaurant, located a stone’s throw from South Kensington tube station, is reputedly one of the better and more traditional places for Scandi cuisine. There’s also my favourite Scandinavian Kitchen, but that’s a lunch-snack-open-sandwich-coffee type of deli and in a whole different ball game to Madsen.
But who am I do discriminate? I will happily love them both with all of my gluttonous heart.
So anyway, Saturday night, smorgasbord. The victims? Me, the tweat-up crew and my Scandi (well ok Finnish but that’s Scandi enough) boyfriend who blends in perfectly with the other tall gorgeous people. I want to hate him so bad but I’m just totally chuffed that he’s my boyfriend, albeit that he’s about five heads taller than me.
Having already studied the menu in detail, we knew to expect some herring and a bunch of meat. And while there was a lot more than just herring and meat, those were probably the dishes that stole the meal – for better or worse.
We started with a serve of freshly baked dark rye bread, which is a totally Scandi thing. I don’t think I appreciate the supposedness awesomeness of rye bread because I pretty much smother the thing with butter and lick it off. I repeat this until the bread is wet and limp and then I casually drop it under the table.
Ok fine, I don’t do that. But I also don’t love it. I’m.. indifferent.
With the rye bread came two serves of herring ~ a white herring which was light, tangy and not overtly fishy (I liked this one best), and a Christmas herring which I thought was much more fishy-pungent. Why was it Christmas? I don’t know? Maybe because it was served with green capers and red onions? Ha ha ho ho ho.
The most delicious dish of the starters was actually bizarre ~ a curry salad with apples and from what we could gather, peas. Tossed in a tangy mayonnaise and dusted with curry powder, it had the right amount of spice and kick, while reminding me of an oldie but goodie, the potato salad. Win.
When we were finally done with starters, the lovely Madsen staff unleashed us on the smorgasbord buffet and hello, this is where the real eating begins.
I’m not going to list out the full menu, because there were just so. many. things. available, but I’ll highlight my favourites. Take a look upwards, there you go: pork loin with cracking & caramelised potaotes, glazed Christmas ham (which totally reminded me of char siu), and a creamy potato bake with anchovy gratin.
I’m pretty sure that in heaven, they eat pork every day and not only that, their pork has an endless supply of crackle. My interest in pork (and crackle) was mild to say the least until this year, when suddenly it seems to have started to consume my epicurean consciousness. Be it Launceston Place or a fellow blogger’s market stall or even some god awful places, all I want to eat is pork.
So anyway, I ate the pork. A lot of it. And thank you to a certain friend who chivalrously brought me more crackle 🙂
The glazed ham and Janssons Frestelse (Swedish creamy potato with anchovy gratin) were also top of my hit list for the night. Really, the glazed ham was like one ginormous char siu so you couldn’t go wrong there and the creamy potato bake, laced with the mildest delicious hint of anchovy… mmm... I could have easily eaten the whole tray.
There was a bunch of other stuff on the menu, some of which I loved (chef’s pork liver pâté for instance was rich, creamy, flavoursome and delish) and some which I would happily never eat again. Strangely one of those was the pan-fried herring which you’d think would be like little bits of fried fish – yum – right? But no, it was marinaded in something which did not agree with my palate, but hey, I never did pretend to have a sophisticated palate.
By dessert time, we were all sufficiently stuffed, me from the pork and everyone else from a whole selection of Scandi deliciousness. We nibbled on grapes and oranges, and Mark and I finished off with a Ris à l’amande (rice pudding) with warm cherry sauce. No photos. We were too full to take photos.
The verdict? I can honestly say I know diddly squat about Scandi cuisine and can’t comment. Well, I can, but it would be my usual standard of dribble, only it would also be inaccurate.
The boyfriend, however, was utterly impressed. I think he said something about not expecting it to be traditional but it was in fact so traditional he hadn’t had a meal like that outside of Finland in years. Now if that’s not a good verdict, I don’t know what is.
ps. I’m still short. I’m not blonde. And well, my mum thinks I’m smart.
20 Old Brompton Road
South Kensington, SW7 3DL
0207 225 2772