Have you heard about Nora? Neither had I, nor my Swedish friends when I asked them about it. It’s a tiny town of 6500 inhabitants about a 30 minutes drive north of Örebro. Restaurant Bryggerikrogen was highly recommended to us by Anders Johnsson at Katrinelunds Gästgiveri. In addition, we were advised to check in at Lilla Hotellet (ad: affiliate link) and try the (apparently) famous Noraglass ice cream. We didn’t know what to expect from any of this, though, but set our GPS northward.
Checking in at Lilla Hotellet
Lilla Hotellet is located in the center of Nora. To be fair, almost everything in Nora is central. However, what the town lacks in size it makes up for in picturesque buildings. Charming wooden houses with private gardens. Old water pumps, of the kind I can only remember from children’s books.
Lilla Hotellet was no exception to the rural idyll. It may just be the prettiest house in Nora. A 1900s narrow wooden building with a pointed roof, paned windows, and an entrance area filled with flowers and Swedish flags. Something about the house made me think of Pippi Longstocking’s Villa Villekulla. The hotel is run by the couple Peter and Peter. Check-in was done on an iPad – very modern in contrast to the place – while chatting with one of the owners in the hallway of the house. I had to park the car and charge it overnight as we were still driving the Tesla Model S 100D. Peter (or was it Peter?) told me there were two parking spots for electrical cars at the town square, complete with fast chargers which would fully top up my battery in just a few hours. Free parking and free power – thanks, Nora and Linde Energi!
Like Stepping Back in Time
Right next to the city square lies an old photography store. The proper ancient kind. I went inside in hopes that the store owner could have a look at my broken digital lense, and he just laughed at me. In a kind way, of course, explaining that this kind of modern equipment was nothing he could help with. He pointed me to the right side of his store, where he had shelves upon shelves and cabinets filled with old film rolls, analog cameras, ancient flash-equipment and other recording devices. “I sell more postcards and fleas than photo equipment these days. The days of this store are numbered,” he said. At least, he was aware of his challenges, I thought. At the same time, I felt a bit sad that this gem of a store – almost a museum – one day would be gone.
The Famous Noraglass Since 1923
Right outside his store, literally across the street, was Noraglass. It’s quite famous – people travel here just to eat the ice cream we were told. A young boy manned the shop. He scooped up the gelato-looking ice cream with a spoon movement that told me he had been working there for a while. Vanilla, hazelnut are always on the menu and pineapple was today’s flavor. That’s my favorite flavor, my Italian choice, and one tropical taste that had me excited. All were creams, not sorbets. While definitely not a gelato – the texture was more rich and creamy – that’s still the closest comparison I can make. I can easily imagine this is the best ice cream in miles distance. You can see even more photos from Nora at Hedda Over Heels.
Bryggerikrogen – An Unexpected Gem
We could walk to Bryggerikrogen from our hotel even though it was situated slightly outside the city centre. Abou a 5-minute walk that is. In an industrial-looking, white-painted brick building. Inside, we were welcomed by restaurant manager and sommelier Veronica Carlsson. She was the first sommelier at Fäviken Magasinet when Magnus Nilsson opened his now infamous restaurant back in 2007. Luckily for us, she has a preference for natural wines – or rather organic wines from small producers. During this magnificent evening, Veronica would serve us some of our favorites, like Occhipinti SP68, as well as introduce us to new great labels.
Erik Lindeberg runs the kitchen at Bryggerikrogen. He told us he has worked 20 years as a chef, but now finally has the confidence to cook exactly the kind of food he wants. Snacks arrived with our Champagne: sliced pieces of smoked ham from a Linderöd pig. The type of ham that reminds you what kind of junk they actually sell in the grocery store. Ham with a distinct flavor, where you can even see the meat fibers, and with a good amount of melt-in-your-mouth fat around it. “This reminds me of breakfast at Fäviken,” I told Hedda. “I have a good feeling about this meal,” Hedda said and practically stole the words from my mouth.
Erik and Veronica made us feel comfortable and welcome at Bryggerikrogen. In a rural and homely fashion, like when we visited the farmer Hans Arild at Grøndalen Gård. Erik was genuinely happy and excited every time he served us a new dish, and it was hard not to be affected by his mood. “Mini-burger!” he laughed, “from an old mountain cow that I bought.” A one-bite burger, in fact, but everything you want from the full-size version. Juicy meat, a good umami flavor, the right amount of salt to lift but not overpower the taste, and a buttery brioche-like bread.
Later, a carpaccio from the same cow arrived. Sliced ever so thin. Cooled to the right temperature. Underneath, a fresh cheese, and on top, delicious deep fried bishop’s weed and toasted spelt seeds. A perfect balance in both taste and texture. “Wow, places like this makes me happy!” I told Hedda. We almost laughed at this point. Who would have guessed that the minor point on the map, which Nora is, would be the home of such an excellent restaurant? I would be so happy if lived out here and Bryggerikrogen opened. The locals must feel satisfied with having a gem like this in their hometown.
The next morning at breakfast, we got our suspicions confirmed by Peter and Peter at Lilla Hotellet: “You should have seen our bank transcripts,” they said, “groceries, fuel, Bryggerikrogen, groceries, fuel, Bryggerikrogen, and so forth.” After checking out, we strolled around town for a few hours and were sad having to leave this cute and charismatic town. Make sure to stop by if you are in the area. It’s definitely worth a detour.
Have you ever been to Nora or did this make you want to go? Please leave a comment below.