If Brick Lane offers many restaurants, one has recently really amazed me. Fika puts forward the Swedish culture but also has created a gorgeous, pretty unique universe. At the moment, the decoration is inspired by Wes Anderson’s movies – there are so many references on the shelves, everywhere around you. Mismatched tables, flowers in vases, fun little objects to make you smile, fairy lights, messages, screen printed cushions by Goodwin + Goodwin, illustrations by Dani… No way you can get bored, it takes at least 30mn to absorb it all. I loved the shark on the tv, the diver swimming against the bricks, the hidden corner for lovers, the reindeer sipping on a cup of tea!
Cocktails too are out of the ordinary. Kiss the teacher marries milk, Absolut vanilla and gingerbread snaps. Life Aquatic dill vodka, elderflower and lemonade. We could not resist The Inventory which you can mix yourself. The mention of candyfloss got me. But look at the presentation, each ingredient in its bottle, down to the tiny teapot. And so you pour, using the retro paper straw to swirl, finishing with the candy on top, dissolving in a pink cloud. So refreshing, then the warmth of cognac and vodka, the sweetness of caramel and the touches of chilli. Bliss.
The menu is presented in a rolled map designed by Dani, as if you were going on a treasure hunt. No endless list here, the chef focused on a focused selection, cooked to perfection and each with a fabulous twist. Intrigued I ordered the Foxy Doughnut. Forget oily pastries, this one is biscuity, vanilla touch, slightly dusted with sugar. On top, a crown of intense chicken liver pâté with grated juicy green apple and just a little honey. It is such a surprising harmony of sweet and savoury. Admire the purple too – delicately brushed beetroot purée… Try the Darjeeling Gravad Lax, a rich salmon presented in spirals matched with a melt-in-the-mouth, jewel like tea jelly finishing on vibrant black pepper.
The so famous Swedish meatballs also are on the menu and clearly are a favourite of the regulars. But I was too curious of everything else. We decided on the Tenenbaum’s Dinner, a selection of 3 sliders: superb meat crowned with brie, applewood cheddar, goat’s cheese. We asked these without the usual buns and the chef wanted these to look as pretty as possible and added edible flowers. Wow. I tried the Campfire steak, another must, very tender, marinated in a Hickory sauce and you can taste the sugary, the spices, the smoked notes. It is served with unctuous grilled mash and apple cider sauce. Such a lovely comfort food and this peppery note at the tip of your tongue makes it splendid. Being a froggie, I usually do not go for British wines (sorry) but recently Chapel Down really changed my mind. The wine list mentions Lyme bay flavoured wines and the strawberry really gives you the full juiciness and summer taste of it. Go for the elderflower white and elderberry red too: we had a quick taste and gosh, are they splendid.
We thought we could not eat another bite but when offered the traditional sticky chocolate cake, the Kladdkaka, well, it would have been rude to refuse. It took us a few minutes to dig in: how can you destroy such a sweet little flower? A rich brownie texture, mellow and melting at heart and wrapping the whole palate. Yep, no need for conversation. The cake says it all.
Verdict: this was full of suprises. I had always thought it was a little café with simple dishes. I was proven wrong – it is so much more an atmosphere, a place with personality and the chef has worked admirably on each recipe, cocktail and even the wine list. This one is to be followed, trust me!
161 Brick Lane
London E1 6SB
|161 Brick Ln London E1 6SB|