I think it is safe to say that most people’s main experiences with Swedish food have occurred inside the Ikea cafeteria. I have always been a bit of a fan myself and have routinely timed shopping trips to coincide with a healthy helping of smoked salmon and Princess cake. That’s why when a friend who works in the Wall Street area suggested Swedish for our lunch date, I was excited at the thought of getting something a little more home made.
Smorgas Chef, a small chain founded by a Norwegian chef and an American investment banker, boasts four Manhattan branches but we headed to the one located on quaint Stone Street- a cute lane located a stone’s throw from the NYSE but boasting a cobble-stoned, European vibe. The interior is done in the light woods and the yellow linen accents one would expect but boasts charming details such as window seats and chandeliers made of mineral water bottles.
The menu could be considered to be a tad on the high side for a lunch but the sandwiches (which average at $15) are definitely an abundant meal and the lunch special ($14) offers a soup or salad, plus a small portion of a main entree and a side dish. I tried the Norwegian Smoked Salmon sandwich- a slab of shining pink salmon crowning a mound of creamy scrambled eggs speckled with chives on hearty, whole grain bread. The accompanying salad boasted a refreshingly tart vinaigrette. My friend got the appetizer-sized portion (perfect for lunch) of Swedish meatballs, mashed potatoes and lingonberry sauce. Similar to the classic Ikea dish but worlds away in terms of freshness and flavor. Other options include fish & chips, roast herbed chicken, a herring sampler and burgers. Service is fast and efficient. Given that the majority of the clientele is local finance workers, this is a must and the staff pull it off seamlessly. An added plus- Smorgas Chef would be the perfect lunch spot after our Archaeology of Manhattan walk.
Check website for full information on locations, opening hours and menus.