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SVEA Cafe & Restaurant

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Here I finally am – home. Graduation is done and dusted, I’ve said goodbye to good friends, moved back into the family home, and am now in the full throes of post-university blues. Of course, an option for many graduates to stave away the blues for a few months is to go for a late gap year and travel the world or, more likely, put off their integration into The Real World (TRW). Sadly, I didn’t budget my student loan around this and ended up with a lovely rounded ‘nil’ in my bank account, meaning TRW was totally unavoidable.

Luckily, Cheltenham is brimming with culture which means that us Cheltonians don’t need to splash out on a plane ticket to get our fix. Of course, you have your typical Indian, Chinese, Thai and Moroccan restaurants, but I had found somewhere completely unique; Svea, Cheltenham’s one and only kooky, yet authentic, Swedish cafe and restaurant (or ‘restaurang’). Somewhat tucked away on Rodney Road between both the Everyman and Playhouse Theatres, it wasn’t particularly busy, though this meant we had the pick of the tables!

The restaurant is done up in a typically Scandinavian way; painted wood, cool leafy colours, Carl Larsson prints and Ikea furniture. All the names of the dishes on the menu relate to places in Sweden, so is a good opportunity to practise your accent. The dishes offer a good mixture of traditional and contemporary Swedish food, which is all made fresh to order.

Cafe culture is big in Sweden, so I chose to take my ‘Fika’ (roughly meaning ‘coffee break’) very seriously and stock up on an excessive amount of caffeine and sweet things! I ordered a cappuccino to aid me with my cake decision-making (hard work I’ll have you know!) and perused the menu... First to catch my eye was Kanelbullar - cinnamon bun covered with pearl sugar - and Karleksmums - dark choc late sponge with glazed coconut coating.

Cake of the Day didn’t really appeal to me, however I was told by the waiter that on special days of the month this takes the form of the Swedish Princess Cake, which is a sponge cake filled with whipped cream and jam, surrounded by a light green marzipan exterior and powdered with confectioner’s sugar. Nevertheless, both cakes I ordered were delicious, not too sickly sweet, but refreshing in that simple Swedish way.

Svea only serves dinner on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, which is between 6pm and 11pm, however on the first Saturday evening of every month the restaurant puts on a traditional Swedish Smörgåsbord where you can sample Swedish delicacies from the buffet. With a dominant savoury tooth, I had a look at the dinner menu to find out what they had on offer. There are several fish dishes including Bohuslän (£5.95); assorted herring served with cheese and knäckebröd, however if you don’t like fish you will still be catered for with dishes such as Tjälknöl (£13.95); slow baked marinated beef with spiced juniper sauce served with potato gratin.

So next time you’re feeling the need to get away from the grey skies at the fraction of the cost of a holiday, why not head to Svea for an authentic Svea Snaps or two and say ‘God dag’ to the country for the few hours!