AK Restaurant + Bar: A Swedish perspective


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When I heard that AK Restaurant + Bar, which has a Swedish chef, opened Monday on Abbot Kinney, I immediately thought of my friend Philip Westgren. He’s a development exec in Santa Monica and my go-to guy for all things Swedish.

Westgren hasn’t tried AK yet (which features cuisine from around the world along with Swedish specialities), but he has perused the menu online and has a reservation for tomorrow night. I asked him to talk about what he’ll be ordering and where else you can find Swedish food in L.A.


Deborah Netburn: So, are you excited for AK Restaurant + Bar?

Philip Westgren: I can’t wait for this new restaurant! I just made a reservation last night, and hearing the Swedish accent in the voice of the person who took my reservation got me excited. I considered being like, ‘Are you Swedish?,’ but that seemed too dorky.

DN: How does the menu look?

PW: I saw a couple of my favorite dishes on their menu. There is köttbullar -- that is meatballs with gravy and lingonberry. That’s what I get at Ikea, but I bet it is going to be good there, and on the brunch menu they have one of my favorite dishes, pytt I panna, which means bits in the pan. Sometimes it is also referred to as hänt i veckan, which means “what happened in the week.” So the idea is it is leftovers that are thrown into the pan and fried up -- usually potatoes, bits of ham and onions -- and you have it with a fried egg on top. It is the perfect hangover food.

DN: Where else can you get Swedish food in L.A.?

PW: A great place is the delicatessen store Shoops on Main Street in Santa Monica. The owner stocks a lot of European foods, including stuff from Sweden. Around Christmas they have a Swedish ham, which is totally different from how Americans eat their ham -- it has the bone in it and a thick mustard crust. Swedes also have a real sweet tooth, and they have a lot of Swedish candy like marzipan and that sort of stuff. And of course there’s always Ikea.

DN: Are there any Swedish foods you really miss?

PW: The only thing that is really Swedish that I can’t find anywhere in L.A. is something I love: This Swedish pastry called kanelbullar. It means cinnamon balls and it is like a danish but without the yellow stuff they put in danishes. That is the only thing that I really miss. But between Ikea and Shoops I can get any of the ingredients I am looking for.

-- Deborah Netburn