Nordic expats in Sydney and local lovers of all things Finnish, Danish, Swedish and beyond, are rejoicing at the opening of Nordic B in Newtown.
With Nordic snacks, beers and spirits hard to find elsewhere in town, it's already proving a popular destination for those missing a taste of home as well as wanting to show their local friends what their food and drink culture is all about. And the locals are loving the sleek space, hearty snacks and inventive cocktails too.
Remember that 'Scandinavia' only truly means Denmark, Sweden and Norway; here we refer to the Nordic countries which also includes Finland and Iceland.
"We have a lot of regulars", owner and manager Leif Kivela explains, just one month into trading. He and his partner are of Nordic heritage themselves. About half the clientele are already becoming very loyal to this friendly bar that offers a touch of home on this side of the world, and more than that, they're bringing their friends.
Around us, we hear snippets of conversations in Nordic languages and even spot a Marimekko (Finnish textiles company) handbag. Almost every table is filled with smiling people, drinking and recommending Lonkero ($9) - a classic Finnish long drink of gin, lime and grapefruit well known to anyone from the region and exclusive to Nordic B in Sydney. It's a zingy, refreshing citrus number that's gloriously undersweetened and we'd happily go another one too.
Another house special is the Nordic Bellini ($16) - served with blueberry, lingonberry or cloudberry liqueuer and finished with lemon, peach and champagne.
Venture further into the drinks menu and you'll find a range of cocktails with their own Nordic twist, using Salmiakki (licorice liqueur), Aquavit and Aalborg Schnapps, to name a few.
The staff can proudly introduce you to the impressive range of Nordic spirits behind the bar that incorporate into some of the cocktails or are worth trying on their own. Most were imported over directly, being near impossible to source in Sydney otherwise.
There's Carlsberg (which is Danish) on tap, or you can try the Finnish Karhu beer. The drinks list includes some basic local offerings as well, for the less adventurous.
Food-wise there's a short but sharp menu of stomach lining snacks ($8) including Swedish meatballs, Norwegian pierogi (pastries) and pan-fried beetroot with blue cheese, plus a deliciously fresh smoked salmon tartare with apple and potato ($12) and some rotating Nordic inspired desserts.
Look out for their specials with discounts on food and drink combos, currently on Wednesdays.
In the warmer months, a cozy outdoor courtyard is perfect for a catchup or private function, while in winter you can help yourself to a blanket from the bar to keep warm while sipping a hot chocolate with Minttu, a Finnish peppermint liqueur ($16). As the Danish might say - it's hygge.
Nordic B is at 191 King St Newtown.