Fika Swedish Kitchen

Jill Dupleix
Scandinavian delight: Fika Swedish Kitchen in Manly is sweet and full of sunny attitude.
Scandinavian delight: Fika Swedish Kitchen in Manly is sweet and full of sunny attitude. Photo: Steven Siewert

5B Market Lane Manly, New South Wales 2095

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02 9976 5099
Opening hours Sunday to Monday: 7am to 5:30pm,
Features Licensed
Prices Moderate (mains $20-$40)
Payments eftpos, Visa, Mastercard

Sydney might think it has the dope on all things sunny, blonde and blue-eyed but we ain't got nothing on the Swedes.

Case in point: three Swedish girls have injected a dose of sunshine-yellow charm into a nondescript laneway in Manly that seemingly attracts every blonde on the north shore. How did that happen?

According to Linda Stanes, Sophie Zetterberg and Diana Chirilas, they set up this light, airy cafe because, after living in Sydney for five years, there were certain Swedish things they missed. From the look of the food and drink on the blond wood tables and menu board, the things they missed involved Swedish liquorice, crispbreads, tea, beer and cider, apple pie, cinnamon buns - and, of course, Swedish meatballs.

Dish of choice ... Swedish meatballs with mashed potato, onion gravy and lingonberry jam, $18.
Dish of choice ... Swedish meatballs with mashed potato, onion gravy and lingonberry jam, $18. Photo: Steven Siewert

A word about the meatballs. If you have had Swedish meatballs in Sweden, or seen them in a cookbook or magazine, or searched for them on the internet, then you'll know what to expect. THESE ARE EXACTLY THE SAME. It's as if there is an international-standards association that calibrates the number of meatballs, the placement of the mash, the colour of the lingonberry jam, and the amount of lightly pickled cucumber.

The meatballs at Fika are the spitting image of the kottbullar I had at a touristy cafe on the landscaped Kungstradgarden in Stockholm 15 years ago.

Perhaps these are a touch larger, and could easily have been served hotter, but they're just as soft and light and gone in a mouthful, with all the elements on the enamel tin plate synthesising into one big comfort-food, Swedish-mum experience.

You can also have your meatballs in an Infinity sourdough baguette with beetroot relish, but just be aware that the best-looking lunch on the premises is the skagen, a pile of fresh prawns in mayo with dill, onion and lemon ($15). It's Sweden-meets-Sydney in a roll.

In fact, Fika brings a sweet, sunny attitude to being both Scandi and Sydney. You can go for the bacon and poached eggs or for the Swedish crispbread with egg and Kalles smoked cod roe cream (how much do we love a breakfast spread in a tube? Vegemite, please take note).

And to drink, there's well-made Campos coffee or Bryggkaffe filter coffee in daffodil-yellow cups. The menu even lists both Vegemite and avocado; the best of both worlds.

Do … take a blonde with you.

Don't … miss the cinnamon buns.

Dish … Swedish meatballs with mashed potato, onion gravy and lingonberry jam, $18.

Vibe … Scandi cottage meets Sydney cafe.

http://fikaswedishkitchen.com.au/