Scandinavian Embassy

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I mentioned Scandinavian Embassy on AmsterdamWonderland before visiting it, describing it rather patronisingly as a place for a great coffee and a chance to “hang with the hiparati”.  I was wrong, very wrong.  Scandinavian Embassy is so very much more than that.

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Let’s start with the basics.  Yes there’s blonde wood, exposed brick and Swedish accents but the guys who started this very considered place are serious.  Serious about both food and coffee and it shows.  Indeed I’ve since read someone describe it as a contender for the first Coffee Bar to receive a Michelin star and if I were the betting type I’d get my wallet out now.

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If you come for a takeaway coffee you certainly won’t leave disappointed, it’s purportedly the best in Amsterdam and possibly all of the Netherlands, but I’d urge you to linger a while and get to know this place a little better.

Much like Abraço in New York’s East Village, the action tends to take place on the bench outside as much as at the small counter indoors. If you do get one of the coveted counter spots though, make the most of it.  The care and attention put into preparing food and drink in front of your eyes is breathtaking.

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As a non-coffee drinker on a bitterly cold day when their famous hot chocolate was out of stock I wondered if coming to this shrine to the coffee bean had been a mistake.  But as they poured me an extraordinarily beautiful and delicate Coffee Flower Tea taking huge pleasure in explaining provenance and flavours to me, I knew I had to commit to some food as well.

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I watched the chef make the morning’s cinnamon buns with what I can only describe as incredible respect for the ingredients.  Her approach to a “simple” bowl of muesli and an oatmeal porridge was even more humbling, but on an icy January morning something slightly warm and savoury was what I needed, and the salt cured salmon and poached eggs served with sheep’s yoghurt on Danish rye beckoned.  It was stunning in every respect.  The beauty and care with which it was prepared, the amazing execution and the complex and delicate flavour made it a uniquely memorable experience.  And as if that wasn’t enough, I was generously poured a complimentary “coffee flower kombucha” – a crisp, chilled drink made of fermented flowers and served in a wine glass that tasted acidic, tangy, sweet and fizzy all at the same time.

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This place is very special indeed.  As I walked away I knew that describing it as a mecca for hipsters was probably the most insulting thing I could have said to these guys.  That mention is gone from my listing.  Go to this place quickly.  It’s the real deal.

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