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Restaurant of the Week: Broder

Scandinavian style makes a beautiful meal
by: KATIE HARTLEY, TRIBUNE PHOTO: KATIE HARTLEY
Broder is a Scandinavian cafe located in Southeast Portland that now serves dinner in addition to breakfast and lunch.

If your only experience with Scandinavian cooking is the Ikea cafe, you're missing out.

Far from the claustrophobic confines of the home furnishings giant (why are the ceilings so incredibly low, and would it kill them to have some windows?), Southeast Portland's Broder offers a terrific, unusual and stylish dining experience.

The slim, sunny restaurant, decorated with the colors of delft china, has been winning raves for its breakfast and lunch since last fall.

Dinner is a more recent addition, and Portlanders on the prowl for the new should check it out, pronto.

The menu is different, in a good way.

There are as many ways to craft your meal as Pippi Longstocking has excuses to get out of school, but the real deal is the three-course smorgasbord.

For $24, take your pick of one item from the seafood bar, two from the 'mid courses' and a main dish. If 'smorgasbord' brings to mind bloated images of an overflowing buffet of heavy pickled herring in cream and the like, you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Each course is served in a stately fashion, as carefully and cleanly designed as fine Danish modern. It's a slow feast.

The seafood section features wonderful smoked trout, gravlax (cured salmon) and authentic mustard herring.

These are attractively served on wooden boards with a variety of dense Swedish breads and appropriate sauces. Raw-food fans will like the oysters.

Pair your dinner with a selection from the impressive Scandinavian beer list or shots of the potent, clear liquids they've been known to enjoy in the northern countries.

There are nearly 20 mid courses to choose from. Someone certainly will want the meatballs with lingonberry; the sweet-tart jam works perfectly with Swedish food and shows up with many dishes here.

Other great options are lovely fat, tender cabbage rolls stuffed with meat and rice; zesty deviled eggs; thick potato dumplings; and the curiously named Jansson's Temptation, a variation of scalloped potatoes flavored with anchovy.

The main dishes change frequently and are served in more casual fashion on homey printed china. If you had a Swedish grandmother, you easily could imagine her doling out portions of tasty pot roast, rich crab-stuffed fish or ham with mustard sauce.

There's often a venison dish, too: The game meat works especially well with the fruity cream sauces.

If you don't want the whole meal, the pleasant and helpful servers are happy to accommodate any menu configuration your heart desires. Just don't ask them where they got the light fixtures.

- Audrey Van Buskirk

2508 S.E. Clinton St., 503-736-3333, 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday, also 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday, $14-$24