The City's Newest Nordic Restaurant: Or, How We Learned To Love Pickled Herring
Ekte doesn't pitch itself as a seafood restaurant — and there are plenty of steak, lamb or chicken options ready to lure you off path. But the seafood dishes are where all the best things on the menu are happening (sidebar: that's not counting the gin menu, which is short, splendid and Scandi-slanted).
The terrace seating, in the foothills of the Bloomberg Arcade, makes for better people-watching and outdoor space than most venues in this part of the Square Mile. Water features babble away around us as we plough through smørrebrød, the open sandwiches nailing that proper balance of delicate but piled high, of simple but satisfyingly rich. The roast beef smørrebrød is a perfect mix of fried onion crunch and silkily rare meat, but it's eclipsed by the punch of wild garlic and toasted nuts on the celeriac sandwich.
The fried pickled herring smørrebrød is a surprise hero dish. We'd both been herring sceptics, but you can't stay sceptical faced with these: small, crispy curls of fish stacked on onion, carrots and dill, with a faint memory of the fish's pickled past coming through underneath the crunch.
The rest of our dishes are consistently good, but it's the smoked trout salad and crab toast that stand out — the latter with an egg yolk sitting on top of it to be stirred through, turning the crabmeat creamily rich. The beef Rydberg is a steak tartare-ish dish of lightly seared cubes of meat, rare inside, and with another egg yolk to be stirred through. It's a big, bullish dish in a generous portion, but it's on the tough side in places and feels, overall, like table space we should've saved for more seafood.
So Ekte caters for your more decadent impulses, for the steak-seekers and gin-lovers, as well as the hygge-supplying comforts of simple, lovely sandwiches. If we're honest, it's the latter side they're really nailing — creamy though the crabmeat is, we'd be even happier with just a long stroll through the smørrebrød menu. And because man cannot live on smørrebrød alone? Maybe a bowl of their cinnamon bun icecream, coolly bready and velvety thick, to finish off.
Ekte Nordic Kitchen, 2-8 Bloomberg Arcade, EC4N 8AR.
Last Updated 17 December 2018