If your knowledge of Nordic cuisine starts and ends with IKEA’s meatballs – prepare to have your mind blown.
SKÅL is the newest neighbourhood joint on buzzy Upper Street, located in a Grade II listed building (previously ROK). This cosy restaurant is overseen by owner and executive head chef, Lauri J Hilli and is run alongside wife Angelique and their daughter Emma, both of whom are front of house and accompanied by a fully formed Scandinavian team.
Clean, earthy, minimalist interiors set the tone, with whitewashed walls, wooden tabletops and piles of logs stacked up in front of the open kitchen to fuel the grill.
SKÅL, meaning ‘cheers’ in Swedish, prides itself on serving up a menu full of traditional Nordic recipes but with a modern, seasonal twist – all underpinned by the term ‘husmanskost’ meaning traditional home-cooked Swedish food.
There’s plenty on the menu that might need explaining but we eased ourselves in with a ‘Myrte’ cocktail – a lovely blend of Nordic flavours, including cloudberry liqueur, vodka and cava. Meanwhile, we slathered creamy cod’s roe butter onto homemade bread laced with tarragon and tried to get to grips with the rest of the menu.
First up we played it safe with their signature gravad lax with pickled cucumbers and wasabi. This is one you’re probably familiar with but although super simple, it’s the perfect way to showcase the great quality ingredients used. The veggie-friendly crispy ‘kroppkakor’ was similar to potato gnocchi, served with wild mushrooms, melted västerbotten cheese & cloudberry vinaigrette.
Roasted kohlrabi, with ‘poke’ style seasoned pearl barley was bought to life with vibrant pickled red onion, fresh pine mayo & kale. Yet it was our lightly cured and roasted cod in a creamy white wine sauce with horseradish and pea-dill salsa that stole the show. Dainty side dishes included glazed carrots with swirls of quark, orange herb salt & pine nuts and roasted brussels sprouts with shaved almonds and more of that tasty västerbotten cheese.
Of course, there are meatballs on the menu – venison in this case, with wild mushrooms in a game sauce.
With dishes so light and beautifully balanced we had room for a dessert each – on the specials menu a vegan pavlova made with chickpea water and SKÅL’s famous Swedish rice pudding with brandy-soaked cloudberries, cinnamon, honey & toasted almonds which is sure to leave you feeling satisfied.
Open seven days a week, for lunch and dinner, 12:00 – 15:00 and 17:00 – 23:00, SKÅL’s 60-cover site caters to all, whether it be solo or communal dining, and is also dog-friendly.