Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Cafe Svensson

Café Svensson
96 Goulburn St
Sydney NSW 2000
Open Wednesdays 6 - 9.30 pm

My last post was about a place that I'd walked past many times, but had never ventured into, until that night. This post is similar, about a place that I'd been interested in visiting, but somehow never managed to get around to patronising, due in part to their idiosyncratic opening hours.

What brought me here, in the end, was an aquavit called Snälleröds Bokhällarens, sought after by @flavourfirst. After a fruitless search for a stockist in Australia, including calls out for help on twitter, I suggested that he try Café Svensso. The recommendation, by @foodetc, of Svensson's Kladdkaka was also a lure.

The Café serves an important role for many Swedes in Sydney, whether they be permanent residents, students or tourists, acting as a meeting point and a place where people can have homemade cinnamon buns, cakes, and open sandwiches, as well as stocking up on confectionery such as Bilar, lollies, and various Swedish packaged foods.

Kanelbullar, Semla at the back, and Kladdkaka in the front

We were fortunate to have chosen this day to visit, as there was a special item on the menu. Semla (also known as 'fastlagsbulle'), is a traditional Lent pastry made in various forms throughtout the Northern European countries, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, especially Shrove Monday or Shrove Tuesday.

The pastry consists of a cardamon-spiced wheat bun, its top cut off, insides scooped out and filled with a mixture consisting of the scooped-out crumbs, milk and almond paste, topped with whipped cream. The cut-off top serves as a lid and is dusted with powdered sugar. 

It's a shame that the Semla is only available for such a short period, as I could quite happily eat it on a regular basis (with a reduced amount of cream) - fresh and soft, the highlight was the mixture inside, the almond paste not too dominant, but the taste component vital to the bun's appeal.

The kanelbullar, or cinnamon bun, was a bit less successful. Its taste reminded me very much of the ones that I have eaten during my visits to Sweden, but it was not as fresh as the Semla, and suffered for this.

Of the three, the standout was definitely the Kladdkaka (sticky chocolate cake). Not overly sweet, it is best described as a cake with a similar denseness to a brownie, with a soft centre.

Ah, what would the visit be without a meatball open sandwich?

A large slice of rye bread topped with meatballs, cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce and a  traditional beetroot salad (Rödbetssallad) consisting of beetroot, apple, mayonnaise and something sour, probably sour cream. It was not bad, though a bit more tart than the beetroot salad I've eaten in Sweden, and surprisingly filling.

The cafe was constantly busy. Staffed by volunteers, and presided over by the friendly Minister Rev. Katja Lin, who came over to chat to us and explain the significance of Semla, this is a place which is welcoming to all, Swedish or otherwise. It's a shame that it is only open on Wednesday evenings, but it's worth a visit.

Oh and no, we had no luck with the Snälleröds Bokhällarens. The search continues.



Anonymous said...

Or one could just go to IKEA :)
No the Svenska kyrkan afe is very good :)

joey@FoodiePop said...

Does all the food come with a miniature Swedish flag? LOL

The Sydney Tarts said...

@anonymous - Much better than IKEA :)

@joey - I don't know if it was especially for us, as I didn't really pay any attention to other tables, but there were a number of small flags at the counter, so perhaps everyone gets one.