Denmark in London: Madsen Restaurant

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In the traditionally French area of South Kensington you can find a little taste of Denmark at Scandinavian restaurant Madsen. I went along to investigate for our World in London challenge.

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 smørrebrød. 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 AErø beer from a little micro brewery on the island of AErø, 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 Sørensen, 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.

So where should Scandinavians head for a taste of home while in London? Vithen recommends the Danish, Swedish and Norwegian churches: “If we need any help we just put a notice up there.”

“There’s Totally Swedish in Warwick Avenue, and this little café, Fika, on Brick Lane. There’s a lot of Scandinavians here so there’s plenty if you know where to go.”

Have you experienced Danish culture in London? Let us know your recommendations.


  1. Zoe J. Griffiths says: This place is great if you want to buy food and groceries from Denmark. (And Sweden and Norway too!)

  2. Martin says:

    This sounds most interesting. Would it be suitable for after-show dining? I’m off to The Proms this evening…

  3. magnus says:


    Totally Swedish is on Crawford Street rather than Warwick Avenue, and I’d rate that place higher than ScandiKitchen if you’re looking for Swedish groceries.

    Also, Garbo’s in not mentioned. It too is on Crawford Street and has far better food than Fika. It’s now a long time since I visited Fika, but the times I’ve been there the food has been rather sub-par (which is a shame, Brick Lane could do with great scandinavian food).

    Garbo’s info;