KARELIA KITCHEN 1194 Bloor West, at Pauline, 647-748-1194, kareliakitchen.com Rating: NNNNN
Mention Scandinavia these days and most people think Volvo and ABBA and those box stores popular with Japanese monkeys in shearling coats. But there was a time - oh, 40 years ago - when everything Nordic was the epitome of cool, from Ingmar Bergman movies and Bang & Olufsen stereos to the open-faced sandwiches they used to serve at the Copenhagen Room in the Colonnade.
Leif Kravis and Donna Ashley's Karelia Kitchen (1194 Bloor West, at Pauline, 647-748-1194, kareliakitchen.com, rating: NNNNN) recreates those heady days. See it on remarkably stylish plates like the Smokehouse Platter ($16), a veritable smorgasbord of house-smoked salmon, organic chicken, trout and cured pork tenderloin served alongside sweetly pickled pumpkin, beets and grapes. Shared at brunch as a starter, it also includes grainy mustard, fig preserves and Ryvita flatbread in addition to capers, caperberries and a gooseberry or two for good luck.
Follow with buttery scrambles of ducks' eggs laced with chives and sided with smoked salmon and home fries ($14) or Swedish-style Pitti y Panna potato hash thick with smoky loin bacon topped with an over-easy egg. Massive blueberry griddlecakes (both $12) come sided with more lean bacon and home fries as well as whipped maple butter, green apple compote and dehydrated pear chips. And only a fool would pass up crisp, grease-free rosti dressed with smoked trout and beet-cured gravlax ($14).
Washed down with a bracing Akvavit Sour ($7.50), a wedge of gluten-free chocolate cake ($4) and an assortment of house-baked lemon-lime shortbread cookies and black-pepper ginger snaps (75¢ each/ nine for $5), is there a more innovative brunch this side of the Hoof?