THOROUGHLY MODERN MISS: Fika, Brick Lane

Located on Brick Lane, Fika is a great place for a coffee, 3-course meal or after-work cocktail. The exterior of Fika makes it stand out from its more shabby, less-chic neighbours on Brick Lane.

The interior décor is Swedish log cabin meets Shoreditch pop-up gallery. Among other things a vintage typewriter, a set of binoculars and an old tanned-leather suitcase adorn the exposed brick walls. My personal favourite was the faux-grass aardvark drinking from a tea cup on the wall to my left – wonderfully random.

The service echoed the décor – subtle but not overbearing. Our waitress (Swedish, of course) was stylish and softly-spoken. After being seated we were handed a rolled up map of ‘New Penzance Island’ and whilst unsure at first (and half expecting a cup of broken Crayola to follow) the scroll worked well for their playful menu.

The menu was reasonably priced with a 3 course meal consisting of the most expensive of each dish coming in at £26. Here’s what we ate:

Starters:

Tomato Kingdom

Heirloom tomato carpaccio, pickled wild mushroom and popcorn £6

Darjeeling Gravad Lax

Home cured salmon with Darjeeling jelly £6

Mains:

Pitch Perfect Meatballs

Swedish meatballs, apple cider sauce and lingonberry jam £10.20

The Expedition

Bed of greens with poached salmon, crayfish and tiger prawns £11.90

Desert:

Kladdkaka

Swedish sticky chocolate cake £4.60

Peanut butter and Jelly Sandwich

Toasty, grilled heaven £4.60

The Tomato Kingdom was light and fresh (although the popcorn seemed unnecessary). The Darjeeling Gravad Lax was a novel idea but neither my dining partner nor I were able to discern any hint of Darjeeling in the jelly. This was probably the most disappointing part of the meal – served with an undressed salad and 2 slices of French baguette it somewhat lacked the finesse of the other dishes.

The ‘Pitch Perfect Meatballs’ were certainly pitch perfect – small, perfectly formed and delicious they came with sweet, meaty gravy and some skin-on mash. The Expedition salad had a fantastic set of ingredients – tiger prawns, pea shoots, brined crayfish tails, poached salmon, round lettuce, green beans and wild rocket but rather like the Gravad Lax lacked cohesiveness and needed some kind of dressing to bring it together.

NOW FOR THE BEST BITS. The Kladdkaka (Swedish sticky chocolate cake) was presented in a beautiful rose shape, had great depth of flavour and was even more gooey on the inside than the chocolate pudding in the ‘not just a chocolate pudding’ M&S campaign – so pretty oozy. The highlight for me, however, was the Peanut Butter Jelly Sandwich (maybe she should have take the crayons you silently judge). The PBJ sandwich really was hot, sweet, slightly salted, crunchy and perfectly balanced grilled (as in fried) sandwich perfection. This is something I will definitely try to recreate at home but I would strongly recommend a pilgrimage to Fika first, to truly realize the potential of the humble PBJ.

One thing that must be said for FIKA is that its ingredients were impeccable. Every dish tasted fresh and exciting. The portion sizes were perfect – filling but leaving me wanting slightly more – so avoided the ‘I need to be rolled out of here’ feeling.

Fika offers some fun but well-made cocktails, as well as a variety of Swedish beers, Swedish ciders, Akvovit and Snaps. On the non-alcoholic side there are some creative home made ice-teas and a great selection of teas and coffee. We both ordered from the cocktail menu – my friend ordered the ‘Zissou Negroni’ which he described as very well balanced with all Vermouth, Gin and Campari easily discernable. I couldn’t help but to choose the ‘When I Kissed the Teacher’ cocktail – made from milk, Absolut Vanilla and gingerbread snaps. It was delicious, best described as an alcoholic and chilled version of Starbucks’ Christmas Gingernut Latte (yes, I’m feeling slightly embarrassed right now).

Fika doesn’t take itself too seriously whilst delivering sophisticated food in an intimate yet playful surrounding with great service. The restaurant is open for breakfast (on the weekend), lunch and dinner and will give you a wonderful introduction to some traditional and contemporary Swedish dishes.

More information here: www.fikalondon.com

Written by a Thoroughly Modern Miss, Crystal Eisinger.

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