The first time I visited Scandinavia (Stockholm, as it happens) I was struck by three things. First, how tall, blonde and attractive the people were. Second, how they liked to sunbathe at every opportunity, regardless of location (ring roads, office car parks, you name it). And third, how incredibly drunk they liked to get on Wednesdays.
So drunk, in fact, that they call it Big Wednesday (obviously in Swedish), which means that you take a student approach to drinking for that day. Apparently they do it to compensate for the harsh, depressing winters. Whatever the reason, I loved it.
Yet, unlike every other type of nationality-themed bar (Australian and Irish being the obvious front-runners), the Scandi thing has never really caught on.
It’s a situation that Nordic, a basement bar in residential Newman Street in Fitzrovia, has been trying to rectify for a few years now. And to help them, they have recently acquired some new owners. So does that mean a new makeover? Not at all. Nordic Bar remains the drinking den it was when it first opened. The furnishings are dark, off-set by purple and green hues on the walls. High leather stools line the bar, giving punters the perfect place to admire and partake in the impressively stocked spirits on show. Nordic is a cocktail bar first and foremost, but it doesn’t shy away from beer and wine, with Tuborg and other Scandinavian beers featuring heavily. The food menu is a smorgasboard (of course) with traditional dishes like Gravad Lax, Swedish meatballs and Pickled Herring, mixed in with more exotic items like Lemon Sole goujons, and deep fried Norwegian cheese.
The punters are your mix of local residents and business people, interspersed with homesick Scandinavians and the odd office worker. Very London, in other words.
The new owners have introduced a new 'party room' to the rear called the Tuborg Bar, and they hope to capitalise on the office party opportunities that London offers. The room probably needs a little more TLC before it lives up to the standards set by the front bar, not to mention, captures a new audience. But after that? Forget it. (Literally.)
Nordic Bar does play to its strengths, and if you want a hidden-away drinking den with touches of Scandinavia where you can while away the upcoming winter blues, this is a good place to start. Whether it can replicate that Big Wednesday factor is to be seen.