Is This Really Nordic? Reviewing Nordic Brew Works
Taste of the Nordic Culture
Welcome back to Nordic Month! This is our las post wrapping up a 5-week fun filled adventure dipping into All Things Nordic. Boy did it fly by!
There is no better way to end the month then to review the only Nordic restaurant in town, Nordic Brew Works. But before we jump into the review let's take a look back at my experience with Nordic food and their culture.
As you know from my post, The Greatest Adventure: A Trip to Iceland, I travelled internationally for the first time in 2019 with my first stop in Reykjavik, Iceland. We rented an Airbnb where we planned to cook meals instead of going out every night since dining out and food in general was pretty expense in Iceland.
To our shock though, when we arrived at the market, simple ingredients or even things you would usually eat as a snack were hard to come by. Iceland, along with most other Europe countries, are known for having small shops on each corner where you pick up certain ingredients and maybe head to another shop down the road for the rest. One stop shops aren't really a thing which often times means to get fresh ingredients you go to the shops daily to buy your meals.
We did manage to pick out a few things to get us through the 8 days we were there, but we did stop for lunch at a few local places too. The first, was a bar where we ordered what we thought was a hamburger off the menu- everything was written in Icelandic. Luckily, hamburgers did arrive.
The fries were plan with no side condiments and the hamburger pretty average. It wasn't the worst, but it wasn't the best thing I ever had.
Another day we stopped at another local bar where I ordered myself some fish and chips, a popular meal not only in Europe, but in the Nordic countries. You can read about this experience in my post about Iceland as well.
So that leads us back to Nordic Brew Works and the question, is it really Nordic?
Reviewing Nordic Brew Works
Nordic Brew Works opened in Bozeman, MT in 2018 and is located in The Market, a building designed for restaurants and several small boutiques. At the time, it was the county's 13th brew to open with hopes to bring lighter beers and a taste of culture to the surrounding area.
Even though open since 2018 and living across the street for a little over two years, I'd never stepped foot into Nordic Brewing (as most people in town call it since Nordic Brew Works is a little much). Unlike the other breweries in town which open around noon, Nordic opens at 4 pm meaning you can arrive for an early dinner. Or as we called it "old timer's dinner".
So, after asking a friend to join, we made our way to Nordic Brew Works. The parking lot was full by the time we arrived, but its name shone bright against the metal siding, not a common Nordic building material. Before we even made our way inside, we stopped at one of the small shops next door. There you could buy stickers, pots for your plants, or purchase various reptiles (I'm still debating an axolotl). I was highly impressed thinking this was a great way to spend some time while on a waiting list to get into the brewery if needed.
After being distracted, we finally turned our attention to the restaurant. Inside, the different lounging sections were already packed, and it was only 4:15pm. Maybe we weren't old timers after all. The hostess suggested the bar which I gladly took as past experiences often showed better service.
Once seated, I took in the surrounding area. It was open with clean, white and wood accents with glass as shelves along with a large pizza stove where people can see their pizza be made from scratch. Nothing I had experienced while in a Nordic country were darker accents made the room cozy and often only had a few people throughout.
After some time, one of the bartenders handed us menus. While scouring over the menu I noticed things such as margarita pizza or pasta, items not commonly known for in Nordic countries.
After a quick glance, my friend ordered the brussel sprouts and I, the Nordic Burger, to compare to the burger I had while in Iceland. We sipped on water as neither of us drink while we waited, funny considering it's a brewery. We didn't have to wait long when our food was brought out.
I instantly started with the fries and was impressed with their taste. Like the Nordic fries I had before, they contained minimal seasoning with little crispiness...they had let the potato do the talking and they tasted great! But I did notice the fries were paired with a thing of ketchup which is often not found in Nordic dishes.
Next, was the burger with a simple bun, sautéed onions, bacon, and aioli sauce. With the first bite, there was a definite grill taste which I don't often come across when eating burgers, but besides that, the generic burger tasted like any other burger I would come across in town.
The Brussel sprouts arrived in an adorable little cast iron pan. According to my friend, they were also very generic and something she could have easily whipped up at home.
During our time there, we were only ever helped when placing our order and grabbing the check which only happened because I put my card down. The service was poor which parallels not only with the Nordic culture but across Europe. Even though this was not intentional it was very disappointing.
Overall, the experience was very Americanized. The decor and atmosphere, even though beautiful, did not capture the homey warm culture of the Nordics. The food simple in taste and design were similar to the Nordic culture but could be found in other restaurants across town and not worth the price. The service was bad which made the experience less desirable to go back to. So, to answer the question, is this Nordic? My experience says no. If it weren't for the little shops outside the restaurant, I most likely won't be making my way back there soon.
That's it for Nordic Month! I wish it could have gone out on a better note but sometimes you can't expect an experience to go as planned. Tell me in the comments below if you've been to any Nordic inspired restaurants and if it was similar to the Nordic culture.
Find 'All Things Nordic' here to see what you may have missed during Nordic Month. Which post is your favorite?
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