Fika Cafe in Kensington Market. Jacob Lorinc/THE VARSITY

Walking into FIKA Café in Kensington Market was like stepping into an image from an IKEA catalogue: the space is well-lit and impeccably colour-coordinated in simultaneously cool and light shades of blue and purple. On a shelf next to the counter is a model of a horse (the café’s logo) and a child’s doll, both of which reinforced the distinctively Scandinavian vibe. Indeed, the café is inspired by a trip to Sweden that one of the co-owners took in the late 90s.

Having already perused the menu – which was hanging from a clipboard held by a piece of string on the wall – I went straight for the sweet treats on display. Browsing the selection, I learned that not all the sweets were available every day. Although I arrived hell-bent on ordering a pain-au-chocolat, I chose a mysterious “Magic Bar” ($3.00) instead, on the grounds that it was the only thing available that day that contained chocolate. To accompany the Magic Bar, I chose a smoked salmon sandwich with quinoa salad ($10.50), and an orange pekoe iced tea ($2.50).

The Magic Bar, it transpired, was made from coconut, graham crumbs, chocolate chips, and condensed milk. This magnificent creation tasted like an evolved Nanaimo bar; it had the consistency of a flapjack without the layering of traditional Nanaimo ingredients, and was much denser than I expected.

The smoked salmon sandwich and quinoa salad soon followed. The latter was, to my surprise, a delight — containing goats’ cheese, red pepper, cucumbers, and onions. Although the salad would have been better served cold than at room temperature, it was nevertheless refreshing. The cucumbers and onions added a crisp texture and the cheese rounded off the flavour. Personally, I’m a cheese fanatic, so a little more of it wouldn’t have gone amiss, but the quantity provided was no detriment to the salad (so I’m not really complaining).

The sandwich itself came open-faced on a slice of toasted sourdough bread, topped with radishes, crème fraîche, chive, and cucumbers that tasted more like pickles. I found the pickling of the cucumbers to be unnecessary; the salmon was more than salted enough to fulfill that role in the combination. The fish itself was thick, but sliced into narrow strips. Though slightly over-salted, the sandwich was fresh and filling without being stodgy.

If you’re looking to splurge on food that is simultaneously tasty and healthy, FIKA is the perfect lunch spot.

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