Chef and owner Christer Larsson has just opened ALTA Nordic Kitchen, a bastion of Scandinavian cuisine on Melrose Ave. The innovative chef is also the owner of the renowned Aquavit and Alta in New York, and his modern, fresh translation of Scandinavian home cooking is a breath of fresh air in the Los Angeles restaurant scene.
Larsson says “We are very excited about our Melrose Avenue location, especially since the area around the La Brea section of the avenue has become more and more popular among restaurant goers.”
The restaurant literally just opened last week, but Larsson explains that “We hope the location will continue to grow and benefit us and our business neighbors.”
Among his most popular dishes are Danish meatballs called fricadelles, gravlax salmon, and liver pate served with homemade rye bread, he relates. “We also serve meats and seafood from our wood-burning grill. We consider our style, classic Scandinavian. We take a classic recipe and put a new spin on it by using local ingredients and new cooking techniques.”
The menu breaks down into a number of different categories. Under “Toast,” along with the popular gravlax and Skagen, diners will find items such as Sill and Gubbrora, or herring fillet with sour cream, chives, and egg salad with anchovies, all on crisply toasted Danish rye. The Tonfisk, or yellowfin tuna tartar, is served on toasted country bread with parsley, capers, cornichons, green olives, parsley and mustard. It is the mix of flavors, as individually distinctive as they are a tantalizing combination, that makes each dish unique.
The Gronratter section of the menu features choices of both sides and salads. In the salad category, you’ll find a succulent tomato salad featuring heirloom tomatoes and Danish feta cheese along with faro and peppery watercress, as well as a chopped salad with chickpeas and avocados among its ingredients in a piquant citrus dressing that adds just the right level of astringency. Under Sides, diners will find pomme frittes, Yukon Gold mashed potatoes, broccolini, and what may be the standout, a collection of both wild and cultivated mushrooms served on a cedar plank with bitter greens and toasted hazel nuts. This is not a dish you’d find on every menu in Los Angeles, and its earthy, unique flavors make it a must-try.
Kott & Fisk, or the meat and fish portion of the menu, includes a salmon salad, halibut, braised short ribs, wood-grilled chicken, plank steak, and those tender Danish meatballs. Another signature dish, available in both full and half orders, is the seafood casserole, or fiskgryta, a saffron-broth-based dish that’s filled with salmon, shrimp, halibut, and mussels. Redolent of fennel, it’s a rich and satisfying main course.
And when it comes to Desserter, no translation is needed to enjoy sweet treats like apple cake, chocolate cake, and rhubarb compote. Traditional marzipan Danish cookies are also served.
Larsson feels optimistic about finding more success in the City of Angels. “People are often looking to try something new. There has not been a full-service Scandinavian restaurant in LA since the mid-80s when Scandia on Sunset Boulevard closed. We feel there will be interest in our concept,” he smiles.
Alta Nordic Kitchen is open nightly for dinner with a weekend brunch planned soon.
Alta Nordic Kitchen
7274 Melrose Ave