More Than Meatballs 

Broder Sets a Scandinavian Table

Last year I traveled to Sweden to get a taste of the country my great grandmother emigrated from. Known in family lore for her delicious recipes from the old country, her cooking was passed down through two generations, landing routinely on my childhood dinner table. Thus prepared, I eagerly dined at what I hoped were Stockholm's less touristy destinations.

Armed with this quasi-expertise, I was thrilled to check out Broder, which opened this fall on SE Clinton. The name means "brother" in Swedish, and the cuisine strikes a nice balance between authentic Scandinavian fare and Americanized adaptations. Plus, it's the latest venture from Peter Bro, who won my heart long ago with the Aalto Lounge and Broder's neighbor, Savoy.

Starting out with only brunch, Broder has expanded its menu and hours to offer dinner, and both are well worth checking out. This place seems to be growing rapidly popular, however, and the space (tricked out in the Scandinavian design aesthetic) is on the tiny side, so don't act surprised if you have to wait. Another word of caution: If your brunching style is to roll in late, with a raging hangover and monster appetite for greasy eggs, skip this line and head to one of the other trillion brunch destinations that cater precisely to this state of being.

Breakfast at Broder is a dainty affair, with modest portions and an emphasis on adorability. A $10 breakfast bord is literally served on a board, with small, delicious samples of smoked trout, rye crisps, cheese, yogurt, salami, nutty bread, and fruit. But the preciousness wears off if you realize you've ordered the most expensive breakfast item on the menu and you're still hungry. Likewise, the scrambles, which employ everything from wild mushroom to homemade ricotta and ham, are tasty, but they won't fill the emptiness you've created if you've consumed nothing but alcohol in the preceding 18 hours.

Lunch items are heartier, and include the flawless Broder Club, a satisfying stack of gravlax (salmon smoked in-house), bacon, tomato, avocado, and horseradish on more of Broder's fabulous bread. You can also go for the Swedish meatballs, either on their own or in sandwich form. Curiously, for a restaurant with such a stellar lineup of bread products, my meatball sandwich arrived on a plain old sesame-studded hamburger bun.

Broder's dinner offers you many strategic options: You can order seafood, mid-course and main dish items à la carte, or in variations on the smorgasbord. At $28, the three-course smorgasbord is the way to go, including a seafood item, three mid-courses, and one main dish. Order the mustard herring if you want to be Swedish about it, but more pedestrian seafood is readily on hand. The mid-courses range from a delicious pork liver pâte to a perhaps-too-eggy cheese tart, dumplings, vegetables, and more. Main dishes are sensible offerings, like the beef pot roast, or ham with mustard sauce.

Here, Broder's portions are perfect. You won't leave hungry, nor will they have to roll you out, even if you clean your plate. Feel free to cherry pick indiscriminately from the food selection—nothing that came to the table approached being bad, though one item in particular pleasantly caught me off guard: The stuffed cabbage rolls transported me back to the kitchen table of my youth. A humble peasant recipe, Broder's simple cabbage rolls filled a void in my life I'd nearly forgotten was there.

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