Here in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, there are more than a few Norwegians and Swedes. And for the latter, the mother church of Swedish ethnic culture has been the Swedish Institute (SI), near downtown Minneapolis. It’s housed in the ornate old Turnblad mansion and for many years was noted mainly for its modest exhibits of Swedish domestic design and clothing. It was also a favorite spot for weekend brunches, in a vast homely dining room not unlike a church basement.
In recent years the SI has greatly upgraded its exhibits, its shop, its public spaces, and its culinary perquisites—the latter in the form of a wonderful little restaurant called Fika. While there are many higher-end eateries in town, I can’t think of any other spot where you can get such finely made cuisine at such a low cost. You can savor high-end cookery for the cost of a sandwich. The only downside is that the servings are relatively modest—probably better for the waistline.
Sue and I have been to Fika a number of times. Though in its early days, it offered counter service only, now waitpeople serve you in the restaurant’s space in the SI’s handsome, airy main lobby. We visited Fika recently and I wanted to create a little jealousy out there with these shots of our lunch.
Up above is Fika’s lovely baby lettuce salad, with red and yellow beets, marcona almonds, blue cheese, rye croutons, and orange-ginger vinaigrette—one of the tastiest salads in town. Down below are our two “entrées.” The smörgåsar on the right is beer-battered shrimp, pickled hard-boiled egg, dill remoulade, tomato and lettuce, on caraway rye. Next to it is the pork belly small plate, with sunchoke chips, greens, and pear.
Granted, the servings are small, but the taste and texture lovely.
If you find yourself in the Minneapple, do yourself a favor and check out Fika, at 26th and Park.