Looking for a great spot to hibernate on a wintry evening? Or a late night retreat that’s not horribly loud? Nordic fulfills the brief and then some; this well-hidden central London spot deserves to be discovered, especially for appealing Scandinavian cocktails and specialty beers.
Nordic is tucked away in a basement, with only a sign (or a crowd of people standing outside) to signal its presence. Follow the staircase downwards to find a long space with enough room and air so you're not left hankering for daylight. The first space you encounter is all unpolished wood and low lighting - if sheepskins were around, you would think Nordic a forest cabin. Further on, you will find the lively bar and finally, the back room, furnished in typical Scandinavian style; ergonomic dining chairs, splashes of colour and those rounded shapes which have made (pre-Ikea) Nordic design so famous.
You can think of Nordic as a cosy, warm retreat in the middle of the winter, where the wood suggests the comforts of a lumberjack hut. But it’s also a cool hideout in the summer. As if the cosiness weren’t enough, Nordic has decided to appeal to the local offices with the lure of a ping pong table, and it seems to have done the trick, with small teams of local workers sneaking in out of hours to play a round or two. With foosball also available, Nordic is truly ideal for those wanting to let their hair down. The Eurovision nights this year were a big hit, with karaoke and sing-alongs, but despite Nordic’s late license, do not be deterred if you just want a quiet drink. The early evening is pleasantly relaxed and even late at night, the general ambience remains friendly and cheerful rather than aggressively loud.
The menu at Nordic used to be uncompromisingly Scandinavian, but apparently the crowd were too afraid to experiment with unpronounceable dishes. And so a new menu has been crafted with British sensibilities in mind.
A handful of Nordic specialties (£4.50-£9) are still available, including the deliciously filling and elegantly flavoured, Pytt I Panna, a mound of pan-fried potato mixed with bacon and sausages, topped with a fried egg and served with traditional pickles. This is the kind of snack that could become the next big thing for breakfast in London. The rest of the menu, however, has been reduced to a fairly standard selection of burgers (£5.50-£9), salads, sharing platters (£11) and nibbles (£3.50-£6) like potato wedges, nachos and calamari. Scandinavian influences make a few guest appearances (there is a Swedish meatball sandwich and Smorgasboard platter) but the rest is just safe, decent-quality food, presented well.
With a 2-for-1 offer on cocktails (£9) on Thursdays, it is no surprise that these sell well. The Scandinavian theme runs strong in delicious house concoctions like Sex In The Snow (strawberries, rose vodka, coconut cream liqueur and vanilla syrup), or the colorful Northern Lights (lime, mint, brown sugar, mandarin vodka, peach and mango puree, peach schnapps, curacao). If cocktails aren’t for you, wines are also available (£14.50-£30 a bottle, with some available by the glass), but the real attraction is the list of interesting imported beers (from around £4 upwards), including the rare red and gold Tuborgs.
The Last Word
The appeal of exotic Scandinavian food may be mostly absent now, but Nordic remains cosy, convenient and amazingly, not oversubscribed despite its central location. Its fun, warm buzz is ideal on winter evenings, while the regular events add a burst of energy all year round.