What is it that you love about Scandinavian food?

I’ve been lucky enough to spend periods of time working in Sweden and holidaying in Norway and Denmark. The Scandinavian attitude to eating is vastly different to ours. There’s no grabbing a pre-packed sandwich to eat at your desk. Eating is very much a social affair, where you take time out to relax and enjoy food in the company of colleagues, friends or family.

The Scandinavians love their coffee and cake, but there is also a sense of balance in their diet, with main meals cooked from scratch and consisting of fresh vegetables, grains and fish or meat with good quality rye breads and little or no refined carbohydrates. ‘Lagom’ is the latest Scandi buzzword to hit the UK and it means ‘just the right amount’. This epitomises the Scandinavian attitude to food and eating and this is what we’re aiming to achieve with the menu at Smörgås.

Tell us about your menu.

We keep the menu simple, with everything prepared from raw ingredients. Each day we offer a selection of baked goods, porridge, granola, skyr [mild Scandinavian yoghurt] and toast with eggs, cheese, smoked salmon and avocado for breakfast, and a selection of salads, soup of the day and open-faced sandwiches for lunch. All of our base salads and soups are vegan and are made from ingredients that are naturally gluten-free.

Our trademark is the open-faced sandwich. Traditionally this is a slice of bread with a spread and topping. Bread is typically rye, spreads are usually butter, pate or cream cheese, and toppings are cold cuts of meat, fish, egg, cheese or vegetables. At Smörgås we offer both the traditional and our own interpretation of the open sandwich, so customers can expect an ever-changing range, as well as the old favourites.

My favourite open-faced sandwich has to be the new potato and boiled egg with horseradish cream and crispy onions, a great combination of flavours and textures. My (and just about everyone’s) favourite cake is the Danish drømmekage (dream cake), a light sponge cake with a buttery coconut topping.

We aim for food that is simple yet satisfying and creating the right environment to relax and enjoy it in is equally important. We want to bring a little hygge [cosiness] to Sheffield.

Can you share your favourite Scandinavian recipes and any top tips for cooks?

The best kanelbullar (cinnamon bun) recipe I’ve found is on The Spruce Eats website and this is the one I use at Smörgås today. My most used Scandi cookbooks are Scandinavian Comfort Food by Trina Hahnemann, The ScandiKitchen Cookbook by Bronte Aurell and Cook Yourself Happy: The Danish way by Caroline Fleming.

Where are your favourite places for Scandinavian food?

Perhaps not surprisingly, the best Scandinavian food I’ve had has been at the homes of friends and colleagues. Eating out is still relatively expensive, and most Scandinavians know how to cook well and take great pride in providing hospitality in their home.

In the UK a favourite haunt, sadly no longer there, was KRO2, a Danish bar and restaurant in Manchester. The original KRO bar is still in existence but the food offering tends not to be as traditionally Danish as its sister pub's. Scandi Kitchen in London has a great online shop, satisfying the needs of expats craving their home comforts.

Closer to home, Gerry’s Bakery & Coffee House in Walkley bakes our rye breads and offers a great range of Scandinavian bread and pastries to which I’m addicted. I'm ashamed to say I’ve not tried Jöro yet, but when time permits...

Ros Ayres


Eat Up! - Ruby Tandoh
Fri 19 Oct | 7pm | Pennine Theatre, Hallam Uni | £7/8

As part of the Off The Shelf Festival of Words, Ruby Tandoh will be talking about her book Eat Up and sharing her views on why we can all find pleasure in food.

Bread, Cheese and Wine
Wed 24 Oct | 7-9:30pm | Seven Hills Bakery | £22.15

The best of Iberian produce, featuring cheese from Porter Brook Deli, wine pairings chosen by Starmore Boss and artisan bread from Seven Hills Bakery.