My explorations to discover and experience different cuisines has become an avocation. A favored way of leisure and entertainment for many individuals, like myself. This week I had the pleasure of revisiting a charming Scandinavian establishment that merits attention.
Understanding the roots of Scandinavian cuisine might appear complicated to the novice. But simply put, the cuisines of Denmark, Sweden, and Norway feature a variety of simple, yet classic flavor profiles integrated to fabricate wholesome spreads.
A distinguishable feature of Scandinavian food is the preparation method, predominantly, preserving, smoking, and pickling. In the same manner, ancient times Vikings employed similar techniques to warrant their existence through the relentless winters.
Nordic Cuisine flaunts their mastery of seafood, such as salmon and cod. Rooted in tradition, food is their culture and the love for deer, elk, pork, a proliferation of rye breads, pickled herring and preserved vegetables are a large part of their heritage.
My trek to discover Scandinavian cuisine begins here in Luxembourg. Opened in 2020, Café Nordbo, is proud to embrace their mission statement: “To introduce authentic Scandinavian cuisine to their community.” “Nordbo” essentially refers to people residing in or originating from The North.
Warm and Relaxing
Located on Rue de Neudorf, Café Nordbo, primarily a lunch café, and bakery is also known to provide caterings and deliveries to their surrounding customers.
Upon entering the café, I was greeted with a waft of sweet and appetizing smell like a freshly opened bag of coffee beans, a warm smell of hot croissants coming out of the oven, delightful notes of butter, sugar and vanilla, and aromatics roasting in the oven reminded me of a warm blanket enveloping me on this cold rainy day.
The décor and ambience, send out messages of a relaxed, casual vibe. Every attention to detail has been meticulously seen to, the textures, style, cheerful lighting, large windows allowing the sun to come through as the weather changes. Even the color palette is in sync with the concept and theme. Attentive and amiable staff, hospitable atmosphere, reasonable cost, convenient location, innovative menus, not just lip-smacking food depicts the scene of the customers’ experience.
I look around to witness the scene as the guests clamor over meticulously prepared meals, and notice them greeting and stopping to exchange conversations over surrounding tables. This tells me that the locals are part of the neighboring community and regular patrons. A testament that this is a trusted place.
Proud founders and visionaries, Kjell Skauland, restauranteur, entrepreneur and Margit Eichstedlund, a hospitality maven, have not left any stone unturned. Their mission is intact, and they are proud to bring forth hospitality in its truest form: community of people, expats from their hometowns, food, culture, history.
Executive Chef Christina Refshauge was able to grasp the vision of Café Nordbo and was instrumental in curating and executing a well-balanced menu for this locale. Her creativity and skill in the art of pastry making and bakers’ confectionery inclusive of decadent chocolate, marzipan, candy, and comfit have been well celebrated.
Innate ingredients are the protagonist of every desired recipe development. Chef Christina and Margit in collaboration explored all possibilities to pursue this. The revealing of one of the most prominent Scandinavian specialties was an instant hit.
Smorgasbord or “Smørrebrød”: a vast variety of Danish open-faced sandwiches, comprised of shrimp, gravlax, eggs, or roast beef, built on a thin layer of rye bread, served with horseradish cream and pickles.
These unique Danish staples, both visually appealing and a gastronomic tradition, draws lunch-time crowds and visitors across Luxembourg.
From what had started out as a grab-and-go café has now turned into a small restaurant with frequent customers and full table service. I was impressed by this transition and could immediately see the ‘success story’ of this establishment.
Chef Christina has trained her team well and both the chefs de partie have excelled under her tutelage. When I was interviewing Chef de partie, Camilla Hüttel Kjeldmann, she concluded, “I would not be here to be able to do any of this menu preparation if Chef Christina had not taught me, it is all her work, and I am grateful.” That is by far the true essence of a mentor and mentee relationship!
The Nordbo Team
Chef de partie Jennie proudly showcased her vegan quiche and walked me through the steps of her recipe. I was invited to taste this light fare with textural contrast of the roasted vegetables and pie crust. It was light and presented a delicate mouthfeel and bursting with herbs and aromatics at the same time.
The soup du jour: a lovely warm Cauliflower, Coconut & Parsnip Soup made from oven-roasted vegetables, served with ryebread croutons and parsley. Vegan velvet, with the parsnips lending body and sweetness to this dish. The thyme infused oil garniture was most rewarding.
Roi was an excellent host, most knowledgeable, he managed to deftly look after us, pay attention to all my questions and serve coffee to the neighboring tables, simultaneously! Amazing! The previous time I met Roi, I remembered our discussion about their specialty dish, Danish Frikadeller (pork meatballs with stewed cabbage, mustard and herbaceous potatoes, served with lingon jam) – another winner on the menu.
Café Nordbo is a gem, tucked away in a lovely private setting, offering indoor and outdoor seating area with substantial parking, superior quality meals for dining in or take away. You will always run into someone you know that will bring a smile to your face.
The icing on the cake are the delights of an incredible enterprise, SCANSHOP, where you will find a wide range of Nordic products in a pleasant atmosphere. Opened for business in 1994, and situated adjacent to Café Nordbo, it is the only Scandinavian and Nordic shop in the Grand Duchy. More than just a delicatessen specialty store, this treasure trove is Kjell’s “baby.”
Margit has her own space in the far end of the shop, for all things beautiful. A concept store, displaying a curated selection of products that suggest a certain lifestyle, typically from different brands and designers. Taking the point of view of a magazine, showcasing local authors, a shopping haven.
Brand designer behind this concept, Margit, indulges in the art of homemaking. I was watching the unwrapping of boxes of their new shipment arrival. A variety of colorful little historic houses from Copenhagen that serve as candle holders and other eclectic wares that needed to be placed around the room.
A room full of tableware, combining ancient, modern, and contemporary art. Vivid colors, and cool and soft reflections at the same time. Timeless creations as well as distinctive, subtle, and stimulation pieces.
The adjoining room leads into potpourri heaven, the art of dried florals arrangements fabricated with natural materials and scents greet me. A mirabilia of cascading, oval, vertical and elliptical shapes that took my breath away.
It was an incredible journey once again even though I have been there a few times. A place which mesmerizes one and makes you want to visit again to be inspired. An art lover’s paradise!