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Monday, May 27, 2024

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CultureFood & DrinkGood Taste: Getting flaky at Smörgåsland

Good Taste: Getting flaky at Smörgåsland

The pastry-stacked promise of IKEA’s new bakery and food hall in downtown SF.

Welcome back to Good Taste, your weekly menu for eating well in the Bay Area. Today, some first impressions after visiting Smörgåsland, the pedigreed Scandinavian bakery inside IKEA San Francisco’s new food hall, which is called Saluhall (945 Market Street, SF). Smörgåsland  was developed by Chef Claus Meyer, who co-founded the famous Noma restaurant in Copenhagen.

Sadly wasn’t able to worm my way onto the guest list for the Saluhall preview a couple weeks ago, so I had to save up a little before I could do a pastry taste test at Smörgåsland. Four pastries and a small coffee cost $33 before tip; I added 20% gratuity because I was one of the only people in the building, and I want everyone to have this job for a while. And that made the bill $40, which, to be fair, is not that much more than what other fine bakeries around here charge. 

Saluhall ground floor
Farm egg danish

Walking the block to IKEA and Saluhall from the Muni station offers a reminder of how quiet it still is downtown. It continues to be weird to see the fading outline of the word Westfield on the San Francisco Centre mall, and no active department store windows facing Market.

I asked a staffer at Smörgåsland if the first week of Saluhall was as quiet as it was when I dropped by last Friday morning around 9:30am (it opens at 8am Wednesdays through Sundays). They said that crowds have come in fits and spurts. My friend who lives across the street has observed that it seems to be gaining momentum as a new place for old homies to catch up.

Smörgåsland wasn’t serving its already lauded cardamom bun on the day I was there, but I was able to buy the farm egg danish, pain au cinnamon, almond Frøsnapper, and the Meyer lemon Spendauer (a regular lemon version was also available). I’m happy to report that I don’t regret the money spent on these beautiful pastries, each of which I’d love to revisit over and over.

Almond Frøsnapper
Meyer lemon Spendauer

The herbiness of the egg danish, the crispitiness (it’s a technical term!) and OCD-esque layering of the pain au cinnamon and the twisted Frøsnapper, the two kinds of sweet lemon fillings in the Spendauer—it’s all just so exquisite. 

Smörgåsland has separate lunch and dinner menus of flatbreads and open-faced sandwiches that all sound intriguing. Less interesting sounding, to me, is the Burgare Bar, and that’s only because the menu uses Beyond Meat, which isn’t a personal favorite when it comes to faux meat.

Saluhall logo

I’m eager to return to Saluhall again soon to graze from the upstairs offerings, which are all well-known Bay Area businesses with vegan options: Curry Up Now, Kayma, Casa Borinqueña, Momo Noodle, and La Venganza. It’s particularly wonderful to see Kayma, which is an Algerian eatery, land in this prominent of a place after the closure of their last home at La Cocina’s Municipal Marketplace, but I’m rooting for everyone to do well here.

My last visit occurred before that floor opens at 11am, which was for the best as far as my wallet was concerned, but I still want to support these chefs and community members and enjoy this clean new space—after the next payday rolls around.

Tamara is the publisher of California Eating and the founder of the new online Music Book Club.

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