After I’d admired the typically Scandinavian interior (think pale wood floors and lampshades by Danish designer Poul Henningsen), restaurant manager Karolina Vithen talked me through the menu.
The lunchtime special is “smushi” – a smaller version of the traditional Danish sandwich called smÃ¸rrebrÃ¸d. Toppings include Greenland prawns and Norwegian Jarlsberg cheese. Alternatively, you can go for the herring platter served with homemade rye bread.
In the evening, Danish dishes include sweet cured herring, frikadeller (pork meatballs with green cabbage and pickled cucumber) and fiskefrikadella (pan-fried haddock fishcakes with lemon marinated cauliflower, pea shoots and dill relish).
Everything looks fresh and healthy. “It’s quite light food, especially in summertime,” confirms Vithen.
The restaurant has a strong environmental policy and only imports wine and beer from Europe, not the New World. There’s a choice of Danish drinks, including AErÃ¸ beer from a little micro brewery on the island of AErÃ¸, and 40% Akvavit shots, normally drunk with herring.
Madsen is a gathering place for Danish, Swedish and Norwegian ex-pats. “Scandinavians like to go to a place where you can get the traditional food,” says Vithen. “We try to do all the different traditions from all the countries.”
The restaurant regularly hosts seasonal events. Next up is a month-long Swedish crayfish festival starting on 19 August.
Perhaps less traditional is the new Scandinavian afternoon tea, including homemade petit fours, two smushis, coffee and a glass of champagne. “It’s a mix between the British and the Scandinavian high tea,” explains Vithen.
All of the staff are Scandinavian. Vithen hails from Sweden, while the owner, Charlotte Kruse Madsen, and chef, Esben Muhlig SÃ¸rensen, are both Danish.
“A lot of people come here and don’t know much about Scandinavia so we have to explain the food,” says Vithen.
Have you experienced Danish culture in London? Let us know your recommendations.