Walking through the streets of the neighborhood of Pine trees, in São Paulo is to find bars, cafes and restaurants of all kinds – and for all tastes. They range from the coolest to the most refined, going through different cuisines and proposals. But what many people do not realize is that in this bohemian core, behind the gate of an ordinary house – which passes away from the spotlight of trendy establishments –, a rich and interesting gastronomic trip to the region of Scandinavia.
commanded by Chef Denise Guerschman, Or Scandinavian offers a different experience to diners. In a five-course menu – tasted in almost two hours – it is possible to learn about the history of the dishes served and discover curiosities about the culture and nordic cuisine.
There, you can taste the typical fish of the region, Haddock and Herring, as well as special drinks, such as Acquavite, the Nordic cachaça, and mead, one of the oldest drinks in the world – both with recipes reproduced in the restaurant.
The restaurant was opened in 2018 as a result of the chef’s desire to bring to Brazil some of what she learned and observed in these countries for almost a decade.
His story with Nordic culture began in 1995, when he did an exchange program in Sweden and Norway, at the age of 15. Later, with a degree in hospitality, she decided to return and spend three months in Norway. At the time, he worked at the only restaurant in the country with a Michelin star, Bagatelle.
The three months turned into eight years. During this period, he lived, knew and observed all the details of each place he was. He started to work making dishes for advertising. She returned to Brazil in 2010 and, after a few years, felt the need to put her “belly on the stove” again and make “real food”, as she described it. And the question that was running through his head was: why not apply everything he had already learned with so much experience abroad?
“I continue to make advertising dishes, but after I returned to Brazil, I felt a desire to reach a larger audience. São Paulo is known around the world as the gastronomic metropolis, and I was intrigued by the fact that the capital has so many cuisine options and not explores Scandinavian cuisine. I started making dinners at my house, small events, always by word of mouth. Until, in 2018, we opened the doors of Scandinavian, which to this day is disseminated more by referral”, he says.
The restaurant started with a different proposal from what is found today – before the menu was à la carte. The essence, however, has always been the same. Discreet and intimate, the feeling is that you are actually in a dining room of a house. The table is shared and holds up to 20 seats. Open on Saturdays (lunch and dinner) and Sundays (lunch only), the experience begins with the arrival of everyone who has made a reservation for the day – so not being late is paramount.
To enter, you must ring the bell. It is as if, in fact, you are going to the house of a friend who is going to host dinner or lunch. The tasteful decor brings references from the chef’s travels, including the idea of a shared table.
“Why is eating at a shared table outside legal and not here in Brazil? I wanted to break that idea and I’ve seen wonderful things happen. People sharing experiences, families becoming friends, couples from other states who became friends and promised to return to the restaurant on the next occasion – and they did. It is a proposal that I insist on maintaining”, emphasizes Denise.
The menu is sent in writing at the time of booking. It can be harmonized (R$300) or not (R$220). Pairing is done with typical drinks from the region. For those who appreciate ethyl, without a doubt, this option is worth it.
When you sit down, you are already welcomed with the house flavored water, served freely throughout your meal. She takes cucumber, lemon and fresh dill. The last two ingredients, by the way, are the basis of Scandinavian cuisine – as onions and garlic are for Brazilians.
Denise and Thiago, her partner, welcome customers and start the experience by presenting each step of the menu, with curiosities and stories of everything that is served. A curiosity: only three employees run the place: Denise, Thiago and an intern.
All inputs are brought in from outside, but this requires a lot of planning.
“Unlike many other cuisines, which have ingredients in abundance, these countries have a very high restriction on inputs, which are only available at certain times of the year. What I learned is really programming myself and knowing what I can work with. I keep it so that it not only lasts, but also tastes even better over time. It is not a kitchen that works with seasonality, but planning”, emphasizes the chef.
Some ingredients and drinks served from the region are purchased once a year. Others are adapted and reproduced by the restaurant. This is the case with Acquavite – a drink much appreciated by the Nordics – and mead. While the base of the first is potato, cereal and cumin seed, the second is made with honey, orange peel and spices, taking about six months to get ready between fermentation and maturation.
The current menu’s journey through the Nordic countries passes through Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Finland and Denmark. Please note that this menu changes from time to time.
In the first step, “Bread and Caviar”, several starters are presented, such as the naturally fermented Pão Bergen; house butter; quail eggs made in a beet vinaigrette; Nordic egg paste; smoked cod roe from Norway; and Muikku, a small and delicate Finnish fish, lightly smoked, rich in vitamin D.
On stage “Norwegian Herring ”, three herring are served on 100% house rye bread, with whey. They are: Norwegian herring, smoked in the house with pickled red onions, berries and rhubarb; creamed herring with white onions and imported dill; and herring with mustard with mead and onion crispy. The Swedish beer Maristads is chosen for the pairing.
In the third step,“Haddock”, a smoked Icelandic haddock is served with rustic mashed potatoes and a creamy beet salad with apples. A special cider harmonizes the main course.
“The Finnish Beet Salad is called Rosolli – and it has a lot of vegetables all cut to the same size. The surprise with the sensations felt when tasting it is incredible! The puree is very rustic – and the inspiration is Norwegian. Made with potatoes, their skins were toasted in butter and a lot of slowly caramelized onions were added to them. Haddock was caught in Iceland and prepared here in Scandinavia. We made a velvety broth that completes the dish”, explains the chef.
The fourth time, “Happy marriage”, serves a pie with house-made Sicilian Lemon Curd, Danish cherry compote and garden mint with a touch of cardamom and orange sugar.
To finish the experience, it is necessary to hit the road and arrive in Denmark for the fifth stage “Anthon Berg Chocolate”.
“With more than 200 years of tradition, Anthon Berg started by combining the marzipan he was already making with chocolate, which at the time was still treated as medicinal in Denmark. He is currently one of the official suppliers for the Danish Royal Family”, says the chef.
In Scandinavian, Marzipã is flavored with coffee, wrapped in chocolate from Anthon Berg. The “sailor’s coffee” is ground in the house and accompanied by fleur de sel to be added little by little.
For those who opted for harmonization, a mint vodka liqueur from Finland is also served. The so-called Mintto, mixed with chocolate, brings a surprising flavor.
The experience ends after almost two hours and, just like at friends’ houses, the conversation flows until it’s time to say goodbye. Goodbye time: gate is unlocked, one more is given and the feeling that that place needs to be discovered by more people is awakened. So, here’s the tip: get to know “O Escandinavo” and enjoy the trip to Scandinavian cuisine in São Paulo.
Scandinavian is on the street Deputy Lacerda Franco, 141, in Pinheiros. But don’t forget: make a reservation, arrive on time and, of course, ring the bell!
Reference: CNN Brasil