Food often looks better in a photo studio, through a photographer’s lens. And the American Swedish Institute’s contemporary addition—all two-story windows and spare white walls—has this same art-gallery effect on the dishes at its new café, Fika.
Take the ultra-Scandinavian open-face seafood sandwiches, for example. One is piled with plump shrimp (dressed with aioli and speckled with fish roe) and rippled butter lettuce, then topped with purple-onion hoops, cucumber discs, and egg with its yolk cooked to a golden putty. House-made rye comes loaded with seared salmon, beet, watercress, and creamy mustard. Both taste as good as their neat compositions look: fresh and briny, cool and crisp, earthy and rich.
Among the choices on the brief chalkboard menu, classicists will do well with the Swedish meatballs, accompanied by mashed potatoes and lingonberries. But they should be encouraged to branch out to the more demure spelt salad, which pairs the chewy nubs of grain with raw vegetables and dill yogurt. Nutritious eating rarely tasted so good, thanks to chef Michael Fitzgerald, a onetime Auriga employee who can sometimes be spotted slipping among the tables, checking on guests and bussing dishes.
Fika’s weekday crowd tends to be white-haired museum-goers, but there’s no reason that neighboring residents and office workers shouldn’t take advantage of the place for lunch or the café’s namesake coffee break. The dark roast pairs especially well with a thumbprint cookie or cardamom roll.