Dinner at Broder Nord
This post is in collaboration with Broder Nord
Jade and I try to stay active and venture out quite a bit, but rarely to dinner. Usually we are home bodies, cook our own dinner or get take away. It’s easy to get caught in the comfortable norm of doing dinner one way, and neither of us are particularly moved to change it since we enjoy our rituals. But occasionally we get the opportunity to break that cycle.
We were invited by the talented and very generous folks at Broder Nord to come have dinner with them. We couldn’t pass the opportunity up, especially since they are one of our favorite places for brunch in Portland. The first time we went to Broder was at their first location off of Southeast Clinton Street. We were so impressed by the fare, we knew we would become regulars. Fortunately for us they opened a second location even closer to our home, just off of North Interstate Avenue. We loved it so much, we made sure we added it to our Where to Brunch section of the Portland City Guide we assembled for Trotter. Broder Nord became one of our top stops for brunch, but little did we know they also serve a fantastic dinner.
Broder Nord serves elevated, traditional style Swedish fare for the modern palate. I have had brushes with Swedish fare in the past, and I don’t just mean the meatballs at Ikea. I had a friend in high school who boasted proudly of his Swedish and Norwegian heritage, and he and his parents would occasionally cook a Swedish style meal. There were some meatballs, but the rest of it had a comforting, rich taste that was ideal for cold, snowy nights in Northern Europe and apparently the Northwest. But the dishes we were served at Broder Nord knocked that stuff out of the proverbial ring.
We ordered the Smorgasbord, which is their chefs tasting menu served in the traditional Swedish style. We also had to order a few of their signature cocktails, because what is dinner without a couple of drinks? We started with a drink called Piece of the Krog, Krog meaning bar or pub in Swedish, which had krogstad aquavit, cucumber, dry vermouth, lime and salt. I am a huge fan of aquavit, it being a spirit that gets its taste from the herbs and spices which go into the distilling process. This particular drink paid homage to all of those delicate flavors.Our second drink was a Rhubarb Sour, rhubarb being something I have adored since I was a kid growing up on a farm, picking it out of my grandma’s garden and hoping it would go in a strawberry rhubarb pie just for me. This drink was comprised of bourbon, red wine, lemon, aperol, and rhubarb bitters; almost a strawberry rhubarb pie in boozy, liquid form.
The start of our delectable dinner began with the first of three plates of hasselback potatoes with smoked trout, creme fraiche, chevre and preserved lemons. The second a salad of red kale with pickled rhubarb, mint, basil, radishes, hazelnuts, chevre and preserved lemons. The third dish was an aquavit cured gravlax with rye bread, smoked beets, pickled fennel, skyr and nasturtiums. This was probably my favorite of the first three dishes not only because of the diversity of the dish, but the presentation and the rich but not heavy texture and taste. Skyr is traditionally a strained style of yogurt that has been used in Swedish cooking for ages, while nasturtiums are a perennial, herbaceous flowering plant. Gravlax is cured salmon with dill, a cousin of lox. I absolutely love lox and dill separately so their perfect marriage in gravlax made this dish mind blowing.
We then had to order a couple more drinks, because, you know, dinner! These were less light and refreshing and more of a sock to the mouth in the dead of winter kind of cocktails. The first was This Bird has Flown, aptly named and a nod to the song Norwegian Wood by my favorite band of all time, The Beatles. This mix had aquavit, scotch, sweet vermouth, yellow chartreuse, which is a liquer made by Carthusian monks, and bitters. A punch to the mouth indeed. The second was a Stockholm Sazerac, Sazerac being a brand of rye whisky, krogstad aquavit, a sugar cube, lemon, and peychaud’s bitters, a brand of bitter made by the Sazerac company. I think I am just not used to drinking scotch, whisky and bourbon, because though these drinks were absolutely fantastic, I felt like I was punched in the mouth later that evening. Serves me right for being over zealous with things I don’t normally order. Needless to say, Jade told me so, and I feel no shame in saying… she was right!
The three final courses started with the crispy poached egg, which was a perfectly fried whole egg (without the shell) with the yolk still soft, served with asparagus, emmer wheat, and ancient heritage cheese. Between the egg and the cheese, I was in a heaven of swirly rich flavors which danced upon my tongue like a skipping milk-maiden. The second was fresh cheese dumplings, which I initially mistook as gnocchi, with king trumpet mushrooms, asparagus, roasted carrots, pea puree and opal basil, a deep violet colored type of basil. The third of the final courses was steamed clams from the Olympic Peninsula, bathed in a riesling sauce, peas, fennel, sausage, and crisps. All the flavors of the final dish melded into an ideal surf and turf dish, something I have not had the opportunity to consume in ages.
To end our meal, our dear friends at Broder Nord served us a Fika Bord. Fika is an early 19th century Swedish slang term for coffee break and these delectable little pastries were an ideal way to end our meal. We want to thank Broder Nord for their humble hospitality and for having us in for dinner. We know we’ll be back time and time again, for both dinner and brunch.