Smorgas Chef at Scandinavia House

New York City is one of my favorite places to visit.  One reason I love New York is its diversity of restaurants.  You can probably eat the world in New York City, and most of it will probably be pretty authentic. On this particular short weekend jaunt, I was able to “travel” to Sweden, Japan, China, and France.

First Stop: “Scandinavia”
I had the privilege again of meeting up with several New York food bloggers for a pleasant lunch in midtown.  Andrea of High Low Food Drink was kind enough to make a reservation here for the rest of our party, Christine from Fresh, Local, and Best, Jessica from Food Mayhem, and a few non-food bloggers (Frank and Bryan).

Let me just start out by saying that my exposure to Scandinavian food is pretty rudimentary.  Sure, I’ve made gravlax before, and I once tried some meatballs at IKEA.  Other than that, unfortunately, my knowledge of Scandinavian food is embarrassingly nil.
Salmon, chive, eggs
Chive scrambled eggs, smoked salmon, and sour cream on 8-grain bread $11

Smorgas Chef was a great introduction to this type of food.  The prices are very reasonable ($14.95 for a three-course lunch special); the space is bright, funky, and fun; and it’s situated in a museum! The Scandinavia House,  a cultural center for Scandinavian countries, is a great place to explore and learn a bit more about Scandinavian culture.

But let’s get on with the food first!

Sparkling Lingonberry Juice
Homemade Sparkling Lingonberry Soda 3.50
I loved my sparkling Lingonberry soda, which was nicely fizzy but not too sweet.
Simple Salad
White balsamic vinaigrette $6
Although simple, this salad was perfectly made.  The greens were fresh and crunchy, the amount of salad dressing was just right, and the flavors were refreshing – exactly what I wanted.  It did not taste particularly “Scandinavian” to me, but then, maybe I don’t really know what Scandinavian salad is supposed to taste like . . .
Seafood Chowder
Mussels, salmon, cod, shrimp $7
Bryan got the soup and thought it was pretty good – a light, creamy soup filled with various types of seafood.
Gravlax Sandwich
Avocado, romaine, tomato, bacon, spicy tartar sauce, 8-grain bread $14
I got the gravlax club, which I thought was pretty good, although nothing particularly exciting.  The salmon was fresh, and the combination of flavors was nice.  To be honest, it felt too American to me (it’s a club sandwich, after all), and I was enviously eying some of the other dishes that seemed more “authentic.”
Meatballs and Gravlax
House-cured gravlaks, pickled herring, Swedish meatballs, traditional accompaniments $15
Jessica got this dish, and thought it was only OK (that salmon looks delicious to me though!)
Smoked Platter
Four of our herring varieties, lefse potato wrap, potato salad $12
Andrea got this dish, and thought it offered an “authentic pickled herring experience” that someone who likes sour, vinegary flavors would enjoy.
Swedish Meatballs
Chive mashed potatoes, zucchini, carrots, grädd sauce $14
Christine quite enjoyed the sauce that accompanied the delicious, tender meatballs, thinking that this dish was overall comforting and hearty.
NYC Food Bloggers
Here they are, snapping away . . .
It’s always fun to get together with food bloggers.  We naturally already have a few things in common (we write, we photograph our food, and we LOVE TO EAT!) so of course it’s easy to hit it off right away.

Thanks gals for meeting up with me!

P.S. So many people guessed that the Scandinavian restaurant I had visited was Aquavit that I’m really curious to try that restaurant next time!

Other posts in this Big Apple Series
Per Se
Joe’s Shanghai
Waldorf Astoria

Smorgas Chef
58 Park Ave
New York, NY 10016
Smorgas Chef at Scandinavia House on Urbanspoon

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  1. says

    Scandanavia is SO expensive. I bet it was much cheaper to eat Scandanavian in NYC than it would be in Sweden. In Norway, a bottle of water was around $6, a frozen pizza around $12, and a bottled frappucino around $9.

  2. says

    wheee! All these lovely bloggers together in one spot! How awesome!
    Too bad the food wasn’t all THAT great…they looked really good to me, but that must be your stellar photography skills.

    I almost met Jessica once, but she couldn’t make it in the end. :(

  3. says

    As always, I had such a great time catching up with you and Bryan! I’ve gone to Aquavit during Restaurant Week for a fixed price lunch. It is more high end/haute cuisine than Smorgas Chef and outside of RW, is much more expensive (but I think I liked the food better).

  4. says

    definitely try out aquavit! they have a front room that is less expensive than the back. i loved their hot smoked salmon and swedish meatballs. also they have this great dessert that is a goat cheese cake with passion fruit center

  5. D. at Outside Oslo says

    Sounds like a great restaurant. Coming from a Norwegian family and writing about Scandinavian food on my blog, it’s fun to hear about other bloggers helping to make Scandinavian food more well known. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Lars says

    That smörgåsbord dish is a to me a total disaster! .. :O
    Being a Swede myself i’d NEVER combine meatballs and lingon together with.. pickled herring(!) .. actually nobody in Sweden would. YUCK! .. looks more like something IKEA would churn out.
    whoever that came up with that smörgåsbord dish should be sacked immediately. SHAME ON YOU Scandinavia house!
    if you crave for authentic Scandinavian food, travel to Scandinavia or visit Aquavit in NYC. It’s so much more than pickled herring and meatballs. Simple as that.

    • Lars says a counterweight to my last flaming comment and after checking out their menu more closely along with reading up on the restaurant’s philosophy, I must say it doesn’t look so bad overall after all. If they continue on this track and philosophy they may evolve and turn out even better (and please, get rid of that weird smörgåsbord dish. Even if their Norwegian head chef came up with the idea doesn’t even excuse it. 😉 )
      I read on their website that they also run a couple of French-Scandinavian crêperie restaurants.
      Just remember, this is just a tiny bit of what Scandinavian food is all about. My old cookbook at home is over 500 pages full of traditional Swedish cuisine. I love to go back and come up with new interpretations and contemporary adaptions of our traditional food and produce.

      • says

        Thanks for you comments. I know very little about Swedish food and there aren’t that many Swedish restaurants in the US. I have heard good things about Aquavit and I do hope to try it someday (or better yet, travel to Sweden!).

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