One of few independent restaurants in the glossy Bloomberg Arcade, this all-day Nordic kitchen is the brainchild of Soren Jessen, the man behind City stalwart 1 Lombard Street. Early risers can pop in for Danish pastries (the cinnamon buns are particularly good) or eggs any which way, before a more substantial menu takes over in the evening. Yes, the atmosphere might first seem a little flat, with genteel music playing and an unremarkable minimalist interior (black walls, industrial hanging pendant lights), but there’s vibrancy aplenty to be found in the young, charming staff and the cracking menu of expertly made Nordic dishes.
Kick off with a few plates of smørrebrød (open-faced sandwiches) to share: sweet, fresh prawns arrive piled high on soft rye bread, completed by egg whites and a tangy lemon mayo; and pleasingly soft grilled celeriac comes topped with garlic mayonnaise and is given extra crunch by toasted hazlenuts. To follow, we were impressed by flaky roasted cod rubbed in brown butter, served alongside sharp dill-pickled cucumber and barbecued celeriac, but even better was a vegetarian dish of almost pasta-like salsify: a creamy delight, bolstered by earthy mushrooms and thick Västerbotten cheese. Homey desserts include a crunchy, warming crumble filled with spiced apple and cardamom, and sticky chocolate cake with a gooey centre, topped with fluffy whipped cream and a pistachio praline. To drink, choose from a large selection of European wines, with prices ranging from the pocket-friendly to the flashy. With its traditional yet accessible menu and friendly team, Ekte provides an accomplished introduction to a cuisine that is still a rarity in London.