Swedish Foodtography and Cinnamon Rolls

Ann Sather

Years ago when it was my turn at work to bring in doughnuts, bagels, or something sweet for breakfast, I always went by Ann Sather for my purchase. In the suburbs where I was working at the time, there were the various bakeries that sold the usual doughnuts, ala Dunkin Donuts. Unlike when Dunkin Donuts had first opened its doors to business, it has since become a bake shop and the concept of the baking the doughnuts on the premises had come to a disappointing halt. Needless to say, I chose to buy some fresh cinnamon rolls to take to work when it was my turn rather than torture my co-workers with stale Dunkin Donuts purchased at sunrise. People at work would mumble, Oooh and Aahhh. They envied our city fare when it came to tasty food.

Swedish Waffles

Swedish Waffles

My discovery of Ann Sather also meant that I had at least one ethnic restaurant to blog for Chicago Alphabet Soup. My first visit to Ann Sather for the purpose of blogging the restaurant was at the Southport Corridor location. I was stuffed to capacity, happy as a lark, and had a nice write-up for the reading audience. Later, the restaurant closed its doors to business. The Southport Corridor had lost a great establishment and I had a write-up to a location that was no longer open for patronage. Of course, there were other locations of Ann Sather in the city and I made it a point to eventually get around to returning for an update to my original blog entry. That day came and it was the Edgewater location at 1147 Granville Avenue where I had a window seat and an appetite for something from the menu.

Eggs Scrambled with Mascarpone Cheese

Eggs Scrambled with Mascarpone Cheese

Filled with the usual North Side cast of characters, I eyed the bill of fare for the breakfast options and was ready to stop my belly from rumbling. I ordered the Swedish waffles and eggs scrambled well with mascarpone cheese. The waffles were thin, but not crepe thin, and fluffy. They certainly were not of the Eggo quality either, as I could taste the buttery flavour in the recipe. The two of them, that I drizzled rather than drowned with syrup, were just what I needed to silence the monster. The first time I had gone to Ann Sather for breakfast, I was introduced to having cream cheese in my scrambled eggs. This time there was no cream cheese, but there was mascarpone cheese and I indulged it all the same. The two guys sitting next to me when I had ordered the eggs looked at me as though I was an exotic not from America. Well, I am from London, albeit I grew up in America, but that is besides the point. When the eggs had arrived, they watched me with curiosity. I think some people love looking at exotics. And for a nice wrap-up, I had coffee and a cinnamon roll. You have not had a good cinnamon roll until you have had a warm, soft cinnamon roll from Ann Sather. I know there are some individuals debating my observation, someone whose point of reference for a good cinnamon roll is a concoction not too different from a Pillsbury cinnamon roll from the can. I pity said individuals.

Cinnamon Roll and Coffee

Cinnamon Roll and Coffee

It goes without saying that Chicago has countless restaurants that come and go. Ann Sather is a Chicago chain and one that people appreciate greatly. All you have to do is walk by any one of the locations and see the place teeming with patrons. The breakfasts simply cannot be denied as some of the best you will get in Chicago. Walker Brother, Original Pancake House, IHOP, and the various breakfast houses that those of the suburban ilk love more than their weekend trip to Wal-Mart are worthy of their praise. Then there is Ann Sather where not only do you get stupendous breakfast, outstanding service, and food at a price that doesn’t make you sigh, but you can also get a cinnamon roll that will shoot you straight to the moon. Hmm. Houston, we have a problem. We’re out of cinnamon rolls.

Ann Sather Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Ride of the Foodies, Scandinavian Style

Svea Restaurant

With the weather warming up a bit, albeit a tease, getting out of bed earlier on the weekends has become easier. That means I have been able to start indulging the most important meal of the day — breakfast. It often starts off with a slice of cake and a tall glass of milk. If not cake, then there is some kind of croissant filled with apples, cream cheese, or chocolate, and milk to wash it all down. I guess I should provide a little more context and state that I have those lovely treats for my weekday breakfast delights while packed on the subway heading into downtown for work. But Saturdays come and I get to enjoy breakfast the right way — at some restaurant with my feet planted under a table, a plate of happiness in front of me, and a book in the hand that is not wielding a fork or spoon.

Coffee

Coffee

For a few weeks, I had been to Pannenkoeken Cafe for some of the best German breakfasts I have had on this side of the Atlantic Ocean. Today I wanted to expand my European repertoire. While browsing the web, I had found a Scandinavian restaurant in the Andersonville neighbourhood of Chicago. I was aware of a small Swedish concentration in the area and a little west of Andersonville, but to find something Scandinavian-specific was a bonus. Queue soundbite of “Ride of the Valkyries,” and me driving down Clark Street in my Volkswagen Jetta, windows down, sun roof back, slow motion, wind blowing through my hair. Now queue sound of needle being taken off the record a bit too hastily. It’s too cold to have windows down in the car and I have not even a bit of fuzz on my head, as I shaved it all off. However, I did drive to 5236 N. Clark Street to Svea Restaurant for some proper food action.

Eggs, Hashbrows, Sausage

Eggs, Hashbrows, Sausage

Because really good ethnic restaurants and cafes fill with patrons quickly, I was at the restaurant as soon as the doors opened at 7:00 AM. With a warm welcome from the waitress/cashier and from the cook, I got a seat at the window and checked the options. A cup of hot coffee warmed up the body a little, not that I was completely frozen, since I had parked across the street. After some discussion about the way the weather and temperatures had been waffling, I ordered a Viking breakfast. On one plate came scrambled eggs that I got with cream cheese, Swedish hashbrowns, rye toast, and sausage. At the table was a happy me. I could have had a plate of the scrambled eggs with cream cheese alone. There may have been some salt in it, but not of the dosage my tongue detects at places like International House of Pancakes, Golden Nugget, or Original Pancake House. The hashbrowns were not the crunchy, shredded horror bites that many breakfast shops serve. These seasoned potato cubes screamed, “Keep eating me.” I keep forgetting that Europeans are not big on frying everything imaginable, so I snapped back to reality when I noticed the sausages were boiled. They reminded me of large Vienna sausages — without salt and the aftertaste. Then there were thin Swedish pancakes with lingonberry jam. These were not the substantial American style pancakes that put you to sleep after devouring half of the stack. Think of crepes that had been cooked on a griddle. I worked my knife and fork on the two pancakes to completion and did not experience food comatose immediately afterwards. And truth be told, the lingonberry jam was perfect to the point where there really was no need for syrup. After I was done, I commented to the waitress that all I needed was a red beard, for I had gobbled all of that food like a true Viking warrior. She responded that I had indeed enjoyed my little feast like a Viking that was celebrating from having performed well in battle.

Swedish Pancakes

Swedish Pancakes

Truly Svea Restaurant is an outstanding cafe for some authentic Scandinavian and Swedish food. I noted that there were lunch items and dinner items. Being only able to speak to the breakfast options, I would recommend it highly, especially for those who like hearty breakfasts during Chicago’s cold months. Svea Restaurant has a cash-only policy, so go to the ATM in advance, get some cash, and drive over to 5236 N. Clark Street for a brekkie fit for a Viking. If you have a CD player or even an MP3 player, be sure to queue “Ride of the Valkyries” while on your way to the restaurant. Trust me, you will understand.

Svea on Urbanspoon

Tre Kronor, Three Crowns

Tre Kronor

Brie and ApplesWhat do you do when you find that your food is cold by the time you get ready to eat it? Well, one suggestion would be to ask to have it reheated. The other suggestion would be to stop joking and laughing with your dinner partners so that you can eat the food while it’s hot. My friend and I chose a Swedish restaurant on Chicago’s North Side at 3258 West Foster Avenue. It was’t just us this time. Two of my old co-workers joined us and in addition to outstanding food, we had laughter and comedy for the three hours we were there. People with high technical aptitude are stereotypically known for being boring, but not the four of us on this evening. Not only were we not boring, but we were well fed.

AppetizersBecause the weather was beautiful, we decided to sit outside and enjoy the great view and temperatures. We started off with complementary bread and crackers that we gobbled up while making fun of work — well our past jobs for two of us who fled a rather blah place of employment. As complementary food is great for whetting the appetite only, we added to the appetizer list by ordering sill tallrik and soft brie with slices of green apple. The sill tallrik were two types of pickled herring, which seems to be a favourite delicacy in Western Europe. I could understand why because the pickled herring was delicious. We asked for more complementary bread so that we could spread the soft brie on it. We had already determined that it was all uphill from this point.

Entrée, Part 1The entrées were so good that they had that effect that I usually experience when I’m eating lip-smacking good food. I wanted to dance and I’m not a dancer. We had norsk lax which was Norwegian salmon broiled with chive beurre blanc, served with au gratin potatoes and parsley. Let me just say that the au gratin potatoes did not come out of a Betty Crocker box. The things were ridiculously good. Oh, that’s not all. We had flaskfile. This was pork tenderloin with savoury applesauce and braised red cabbage served up with rice pilaf and green beans. I’m not a fan of pork, but this dish was worth ordering another plate. But that’s not all. A third plate we ordered was kottbullar, Swedish meatballs with lingonberries, cucumber salad, and mashed potatoes. The mashed potatoes were so good that they didn’t require gravy and Tre Kronor truly did a fabulous job with the Swedish meatballs. The fourth dish we ordered was kycklingfilè. This was a chicken breast, ham, and djarlesberg cheese with mashed potatoes and green beans. It was yet another unnecessarily good dish to the point of us thinking how much we appreciate good food. I guess that goes without saying.

Entrée, Part 2Even though we had survived stuffing ourselves with the appetizing appetizers and the mouth watering entrées, we had enough room left for dessert. We were dangerous also. We ordered four dessert. “Oh my God!” you say as you press your hand to your chest in shock. We had a custard with a caramelized topping, a chocolate mousse that no one should eat in public, a lemon tart that swear was finally done right by someone, and blueberry soup that was surprisingly tasty although different.

Entrée, Part 3Tre Kronor apparently was once an actual house that the owners converted into a restaurant. After dinner, I went to wash my hands and the bathroom was upstairs. Notice I said bathroom as opposed to washroom. You can let a bath, soak in the tub, and relax after a heavy meal like what we had. I’m sure other customers who are full of drink and in need of using the loo would not be pleased if someone were basking in a bubble bath with a glass of wine. Talk about making customers feel at home.

Entrée, Part 4Here is the shameless plug. For all of the eating, and I will remind you again that everything was outstanding, the price was the biggest shock. We didn’t hear the cha-ching sound and laughter from the kitchen. The next time we go, we’ll have to go with sullen and sombre spirits so that we’re not laughing so much. The food at Tre Kronor is tasty, but not spicy such that those with mild palates would have fits. We enjoyed the food, which is rhetorical, and it goes without saying that will shall return — at least ten more times this year.

Flight of Desserts

Tre Kronor on Urbanspoon