It's the season of pre-5pm sunsets, crisp mornings and hot soup stains on your jeans, so you might as well enjoy it. Forget basking in watery late-afternoon sunlight and unnecessarily wearing shades to recapture those bygone summer days, and feel the allure of nights in and mulled beverages instead. Indeed, why not do it like a Nord, embrace winter with aplomb, and get a Scandi design and culture fix while you're at it. Sydney is a hot-bed of Nordic style — and if you follow our top picks, you'll be smiling your way through the chillier months in no time.
Fika's lunch special changes daily, offering fish patties, varied smørrebrød (open sandwiches) and a mean sweet 'n' sour lamb casserole. Their regular menu is a smorgasbord of meatballs, cured and seared fish and caviar on knäckebröd (rye crispbread), and delicious seasonal produce. For those nursing a cruel snaps-hangover, the bacon and egg bap with beetroot relish is a winner, but there are delicious veggie breakfast bowls, tossed muesli and pancakes, too. Sunflower-yellow crockery, an airy cottage-kitchen vibe and beaming servers can easily make you forget you're in Sydney, but the coffee is made with classic Aussie expertise.
Given all of the above, it won't come as a surprise that the weekend queue around the chunky wooden counter for a takeaway can be heinous, so bag a table if you can. With an outrageous pyramid of glazed, crème filled and soft cinnamon tossed pastries glaring from the display cabinet, this is a true 'treat yo'self' brunch spot. If you want to take a little bit of Sverige away with you, grab a slab of Marabou (only the richest, creamiest chocolate in all of the North) or a bag of chewy 'mallow Bilar.
With brisk winds and cool nights well and truly here, Scandinavia's blanket-laden cafes can teach us a thing or two about how to bunker down. At the end of sharply descending hidden passageway beneath Pitt Street is Sydney's answer. There's something inherently cosy about being underground, which Norsk Dor nails it with elegant-minimalism-meets-homely-longhouse style. Think impeccably-set Nordic decor complete with fur-draped seating softly lit industrial-chic lamps.
The menu is graceful and hearty. The slow-cooked venison is mouth-watering, but equally hard to overlook is the wagyu bone marrow, baked cheese, and all manner of cured and smoked seafood on the menu. True to Scandi simple-done-well culinary philosophy, their fresh house-made bread and salted butter is delicious, and they offer a solid range of Nordic spirits. Knock back an after-dinner shot of Aalborg Akvavit like a true Dane, or sample the stripped-back signature cocktails with names like Danske Delight (Don Julio, citrus, beetroot glaze) and Norway Nights (Lagavulin 8yr, Grand Marnier, Espresso, Cream) at the glossy plant-flanked bar. You'll forget about the horizontal rain outside in no time.
Okay, so this one isn't exclusively Scandinavian, but there's a natural harmony between the serene minimalism of both Japanese and Scandinavian design that qualifies this Asian/Nordic Surry Hills coffee-spot for our list. Nestled on a sloping Darlinghurst street-corner, Edition Coffee Roasters exudes functional-chic with light, neat architecture and a littering of design and fashion journals on the tables.
True to Nordic culinary form, the brunch menu champions seasonality, featuring smoked, pickled and cured dishes of winter vegetables, and belly-warming sweet and savoury crepes. Highlights include the Skinke og Aeg (ham and eggs) with maple miso leg ham, Danish honningkage (ginger and honey cake), and the host of petite pastries for sale on the counter. With speedy wifi, top-notch coffee and quality people-watching potential, Edition Coffee Roasters is exactly where you want to fika (take an indulgent coffee-break) during your lunch hour.
Before April, the most Scandinavian thing about the basement of an ex-tobacco factory in Redfern was that you could probably have found a few tins of snus in there at some point. A couple of months ago, however, highly-anticipated Viking themed carvery and whisky bar, Mjolner, took over.
Featuring a rotating menu of one bird, fish, beast and vegetarian dish, as well as an open kitchen and carvery, the Speakeasy group has brought the medieval merriment of Asgard to Redfern. Brick archways, black pillars and roughly-hewn wooden ornaments behind metal grates give Mjolner an architectural brutalism that suits the rowdy-Gods-post-battle-feast theme. With an eye for the fine-dining market, it's tastefully offset by gleaming silver drinking horns on each table and simple but elegant wooden furniture. For all your meat, marrow and mead needs, Mjolner has you covered.
Somewhere down the historical line, the Scandinavians forged their own path away from the well-trodden track towards candy and caramel, and settled in the Badlands of the lolly world: liquorice. In fact, it's something of a regional obsession. You may not have grown up gnawing on dried lakris roots and chewing big Nordic brand GaJol's packages of salted liquorice discs, but you might have tried Sweden's soft and chewy Skipper's pipes, had your fair share of Liquorice Allsorts or heard of Johan Bulow's premium and experimental sweets from wind-ravaged North Sea island, Bornholm.
Here in Sydney, family-run lolly emporium The Licorice Shop hosts a weekend market stand in The Rocks where you can get your fix. If eating black liquorice sounds like a pure assault on your taste buds and culinary values, there's a multitude of downright delicious fruit and chocolate variations to get your teeth into for an authentic Scandi treat.
Funkis Swedish Forms is a little homeware and fashion outlet in Paddington brimming with clogs, accessories, design trinkets and gorgeous kitchen ceramics from the FortyNine studio in Marrickville. With rails housing Scandi brands including the iconic Marimekko and RAINS, it's a quick hop-step from looking for a birthday card to buying a statement winter jacket.
Out the back is brand new petite garden-café, Koket. Perfect for your afternoon fika, sip coffee in the dreamy paved courtyard surrounded by grasses and olive trees. For a quick bite there are fresh sandwiches in gnarled bread rolls, sticky cinnamon buns and a fridge full of kombucha. For a more leisurely lunchtime detour into Scandi food culture, the Swedish tasting platter — a selection of mini knäckebröd bites topped with cured, grilled and smoked seafood — is not to be missed.
In the wake of the roaring success of Scandi cinema in all its gut-wrenching realism and stark visual glory, Sydney's Scandinavian Film Festival returns to Palace's theatres for another season. Check out works by the best emerging names in Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Icelandic and Finnish film, and brush up on classic Nordic Noir with a glass of wine and some tapas.
This year's highlights include odes to real-life figures, heart-stirring dramas, explorations of indigenous plights, brooding murder mysteries and the politics of war — in fact, we've picked five highlights if you need more viewing suggestions.
HONOURABLE MENTIONS: MORE SCANDI STYLE ON YOUR DOORSTEP
The uncomplicated palettes and effortlessly smart tailoring of Nordic style remain unrelentingly à la mode. Get some winter cool in your wardrobe this season with a few Scandi fashion exports. Bright wet-weather wear from Danish brand RAINS and Sweden's Stutterheim nails form and function with simple, unisex silhouettes, with Sydney stockists including Incu, The Iconic and The Stables — where you can also find collections by Danish brand Norse Projects. Or, scout out some Scandi street style at Stockholm fashion house Acne Studios' Sydney outpost in Paddington with thick, slouchy knits in muted autumnal colours and oversized scarves. Plus, The Standard Store in Surry Hills is packed with playful accessories and gifts from bold Danish designer, Henrik Vibskov. And, what a coincidence, you're within reaching distance of rounding off your fashion hunt Copenhagen-style with a long black and a pastry at Bourke Street Bakery.