41 West 58th Street (btwn. 5th & 6th Ave.)
Starbuck’s beware: there’s a new coffee shop in town and this Swedish arrival takes its coffee very seriously. With modern trimmings – white walls, steel counters, wood stools and black & white photographs – this sophisticated midtown coffee bar has only been open a week and is already attracting regulars who swear by everything from the cappuccino to the meatball sandwiches. The reason for FIKA’s instant success might have something do with the fact that owner, Lars Akerlund, has somehow managed to comfortably squeeze a bakery,
sandwich shop, chocolatier and espresso bar into a modest 700 square foot space.
At the risk of sounding as if I own stock in the bar (I don’t), FIKA brews that rare cup of coffee that makes you to take pause. Using Lofbergs Lila’s Swedish coffee beans, they serve a beyond creamy cappucino and an extraordinarily rich espresso, both accompanied by a delicate spoonful of chocolate chips. Of course, there’s also a traditional brew, served in a tea cup to be drunken Swedish style; spilled into the saucer, then slurped while holding a sugar cube between your teeth. If that’s not enough to satisfy your sugar fix, there’s a slew of freshly baked pastries. I dabbled in an airy cardamom biscotti and an appropriately named, vanilla dream cookie, a fragile and divine, vanilla-laced butter cookie with a mysterious salt crunch, that comes from Hjorthornsalt, a Swedish ingredient that there’s suspiciously no word for in English.
And how many coffee bars can boast a chef and chocolatier all their own? Chef David Johansson left his culinary post at the Swedish consulate to work wonders in FIKA’s tiny kitchen, offering an array of Scandinavian sandwiches and salads, including a flavorful meatball and beet sandwich with a spicy horseradish kick. There’s even daily lunch specials, like lax pudding with salmon, potatoes, leeks and onions. Lest I forget to mention the in-house chocolatier, Denisse D. Ayala, who’s proven mastery with a tart lingonberry, covered in Callebaut French chocolate, which also makes me take pause to wonder if chocolate isn’t Sweden’s strong suit. With lofty ambitions to open a new FIKA bar in Manhattan every four months, this coffee roaster could be coming to your neighborhood in the near future.
Until we eat again,
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