Photo Credit: H2O
As you might know from last week's post, I stayed at Scandic Hamburg Emporio right during Christmas time last year and while browsing through the hotel's homepage a couple of weeks before heading to Hamburg, I noticed their restaurant H2O. Actually it's called H2O Hamburg · Stockholm Kitchen - Bar - Lounge which pretty much tells you everything you need to know about the food they serve: the best of German and Swedish cuisine!
Of course, with me having lived in Stockholm for a short while and the boyfriend being half-Swedish, we decided to book a table before we even got to Hamburg! This concept seemed too good to miss out on. And when we did so, we were informed that there would be a classic Swedish Christmas buffet that evening but that we could also order from the menu - you can imagine what we went for, right?!
The Swedish Julbord
First things first, what's so special about Swedish buffets? The Swedes do like their buffets and there are two types: the Smörgåsbord and the Julbord. A Swedish smörgås is basically a sandwich so you might wonder what's so special about a sandwich buffet? Well, they actually make a so called smörgåstårta - a sandwich cake on special events which isn't as disgusting as it might sound.
It's basically just a very large plate with sandwiches filled with things like salmon, shrimps, cheese, tomatoes, cucumbers and mayonnaise that looks like a cake. A sandwich buffet then basically entails lots of those different sandwich cakes.
A Julbord is the traditional Christmas buffet then. You won't find sandwiches here so it's important to distinguish between the two types of Swedish buffets. The Christmas buffet contains all sorts of cold and warm dishes, lots of starters (that would actually be more than enough to make you full), lots of potatoes and meat and some desserts.
Now our Christmas buffet at the H2O was just like a typically Swedish one but with a little German twist. Of course they served all the essentials of a typical Julbord: Julskinka (Christmas ham), sausages, herring, shrimps, salmon and lots of potatoes. The Germans do love their potatoes too though, so they didn't just serve normal boiled potatoes but also roast potatoes and fried potato cakes which I myself would definitely describe as typically German.
Also for dessert, they served more German specialities - baked apple and semolina porridge, yummy!
Before diving into what our dinner at H2O was like, let me tell you a bit more about the restaurant itself. H2O is situated at Scandic Emporio in the city centre of Hamburg. It is the only concept restaurant of the whole Scandic chain and tries to serve meals that fit to both Nordic cities, Hamburg and Stockholm. At H2O, they are conscious about serving only fresh and high-quality ingredients and combine typically Northern German with typically Swedish recipes.
This crossover also definitely fits to the clientel of the hotel. As far as I could see, it's mainly Scandinavians and Germans who stay at Scandic Emporio so this restaurant concept absolutely serves their demands. Moreover, the H2O makes you feel at ease immediately. The restaurant is designed in a modern Scandinavian way with dimmed lights and a cosy atmosphere. You can even watch the chefs doing their work!
Plus, the staff was incredibly friendly and helpful and made us feel really welcome. What more could you want?
So what did we actually eat and what was being offered?
As typical for a Swedish Christmas buffet, there are more starters than main courses so you really should be careful not to eat too many starters to leave some room for the rest of of the buffet. What was on offer was:
Herring marinated in dill, curry and mustard sauce
Fjord salmon, smoked and marinated, with creamed horseradish and dill mustard sauce
Smoked ham with fresh dark rye bread
Arctic shrimps with dill
Cucumber salad with yoghurt and pink pepper
Smoked trout and kipper with fresh dark rye bread
Assorted Nordic cold cuts and pastry
Crisp bread, Baguettes, salty crackers and butter
I'm not a fan of herring or salmon but I did try and love the shrimps, as well as the Christmas ham (THE BEST!) and the cucumber salad, cheese and bread of course. Simon had the smoked ham in addition and enjoyed it too.
We also had a Hugo as pre-dinner drink - a cocktail made of prosecco, lemonade and mint which is absolutely hip in Germany right now. Totally get why though, it was really tasty!
„Janssons Frestelse“ - Potato gratin with anchovies
„Julskinka“ – Whole ham glazed with mustard and honey
Red cabbage, German dumplings and butter potatoes
Simon ate lots of all of these dishes and enjoyed them all. I loved the butter potatoes and ham in particular - didn't try the red cabbage though and found the dumplings a bit dry but I guess that's a matter of taste.
Semolina porridge with cinnamon
Baked apple with sweet crumbs
Fruits, nuts and gingerbread
Nordic cheese and grapes
Simon tried the porridge but handed it over to me - guess he just isn't used to the taste. It is pretty "German" after all, haha. So I ended up eating both, the porridge and the baked apple and absolutely loved them, though the complimentary snaps we received after dinner was much needed if you get what I mean...
Anyway, we were more than full after dinner and didn't exactly need breakfast the other day - so dinner was a success I'd say!
The Swedish Christmas buffet at H2O cost 36€ per person and included water, one snaps and one glögg (Swedish mulled wine). We were absolutely satisfied with their food and service and literally spend 3 hours stuffing our faces. The atmosphere in the restaurant was really cosy and lovely and we would love to eat dinner at H2O again.
The restaurant is situated at Gänsemarkt in central Hamburg and offers lunch on weekdays from 11.30am to 2.30pm and dinner from 5.30pm to 10pm. The restaurant is closed on Sundays but you can always order snacks from the bar menu, as well as pizza.
You can reserve a table directly at the hotel or by following this link.
Have you ever tried Swedish food? Which of the dishes described would you love to taste?
*Snow in Tromso paid the regular price for the buffet but received complimentary cocktails in exchange for this review. All opinions are my own though.
**All information about Swedish traditions comes from the boyfriend and is based in Lapland. Traditions might be different in the South ;)
Linking up with Bonnie for Travel Tuesday!