If culture and ‘terroir’ are a basis for deciding which drinks bestmatch a particular cuisine then beer must have a strong claim to bepaired with Scandinavian food.
Certainly London’s newest Scandi restaurant Madsen believes so offering a matching beer with every course for their recent menu for the London Restaurant Festival.
It was a nice idea that didn’t quite come off because of the quantities of beer involved. I ordered an Aer India Pale Ale from Denmark which was fine with my main course of ‘Hakkebøf med bløde løg’ (aka Danish beef burger with beetroot) but much less good with my ‘curry-marinated herring with green apples’ and a delicious smoked salmon dip, both of would have been better with a light lager or pilsner. Ideally you’d be able to order 250ml (or smaller) glasses so that you could match each course. 500ml is a lot of beer to drink for lunch (for girls at least ;-)
The food though was lovely - a modern take on smørrebrød with slightly larger helpings than you would get in Denmark but smaller than a standard main course - perfect for lunch. I also got to taste (though didn’t order) a fantastic baked crème caramel made with Svaneke ‘Choko’ Chocolate Stout so they’re obviously playing around with the idea of beer in food too.
There are other drink options, obviously, with this style of food though beer almost always scores better than wine with anything pickled in my opinion. A pan-fried fillet of Irish plaice with steamed broccoli tossed in oyster remoulade I also tasted would have been excellent with a minerally Sauvignon Blanc and my beefburger would have gone well with a Bordeaux or any similar Cabernet Merlot blend.
I like Madsen. It has a friendly, café-style design and atmosphere (very Scandi) and offers something genuinely distinctive to the London dining scene. They’re apparently thinking of putting on beer dinners so keep an eye on their website and on Twitter where they tweet as MadsenLondon.
Madsen is at 20 Old Brompton Road, London SW7 3DL. Tel 020 7225 2772.
I ate at Madsen as a guest of the restaurant.