Sunday, 22 November 2009


42 Crawford Street
020 7262 6582

I've been to Sweden once, in 1998. I was at my most penniless, but having only eaten Tesco's least finest canned fish and Value crackers for the first three days of the trip, I had £30 in my pocket for an authentic Stockholm smörgåsbord (gotta love those accents). The problem was that I couldn't find one anywhere. I was 18, supposedly at my physical peak, and I couldn't even track down a smörgåsbord in Sweden. I spent the money on a ticket for the ABBA Museum, a falafel from an Iraqi bean-hawker and a proposterously expensive pint of beer. It's a winning combo.

As I walked through the door at Garbo's, the average age of the clientele fell by 30 years, and I'm not very young any more. My grandparents, who had started their meal without me, pointed towards the smörgåsbord. At last, an authentic Swedish smörgåsbord. My first ever. I loaded pickled herring, gravadlax (cured salmon) with mustard sauce, and potato salad on to my plate with such zeal I barely noticed the 30 or so photos of Greta Garbo and, rather incongrously, a giant stuffed moose's head on the wall. A giant stuffed moose's head, a dead Swedish actress and lots of elderly Scandinavians, all as quiet as each other; the only noise to be heard the waitress screaming to her chef: "You forgot the hollandaise sauce!"

The tardy sauce perked up a lifeless piece of grilled salmon, while my grandparents didn't seemed particularly thrilled by their mains. Their kåldolmar is like a northern European answer to the Meditterranean dolma, cabbage rolls stuffed with lamb. It wasn't brilliant, but £14.95 for a smörgy, a main and a dessert (went for a boring fruit salad) is good value. The less said about the signed Fabba (the 4th best Abba tribute band, if we're being generous) poster, the better.

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