In the fading evening light it?s easy to miss the entrance way, in a nondescript part of Cleveland Street with no signage or notable neighbours.
Trust your gps, for when you find yourself standing before a deep set wooden door frame with Thor?s hammer emblazoned on it, you have arrived at Mj?lner.
A wide staircase takes you down into this Vikings lair, and it seems in true Nordic style that no stone has been left unturned.
Hefty meat lockers display aging carcasses while charred aromas flow freely from the kitchen.?Bone, skins and furs adorn the walls and robust table settings fill the space around us.
The front of house manager wastes not a moment in offering us one of their 200+ whiskeys available, and promptly returns with our welcome liqueur and a cocktail menu.
I make an observation on the lush wooden furniture. She informs us that the zola chairs we?re seated on were assembled by hand just two weeks earlier, and form just part of a meticulously selected line-up of Scandinavian-style furniture selected from North Hem.
Everything feels intentional, and everything has a distinct ?Thor-ness? to it.
One of the men responsible for the hearty fare and rich furnishings of Mjolner is Sven Almenning. Says Sven, ?We didn?t want to open a Viking themed venue as such, but were more interested in exploring the ? I?ll admit far out – idea of Thor, the Norse God of Thunder, being real, and being here on earth, as he often is in the Marvel universe, and what a venue would look like if Thor was to open a restaurant and bar today.?
There?s a menu, but don?t get attached to it because your Bird, Beast, Fish and Veg options will have changed by this time next week. Be sure to order your starters and your sides; the portions are generous and your top button is going to feel it, but trust me when I say it?ll be worth it.
?Our food menu and cocktail list are all heavily inspired by Scandinavian flavours and ingredients without going too overboard (I hope), and whilst things such as bone marrow may not be strictly Scandinavian we definitely feel that modern day Vikings, not to mention a modern day Thor, would LOVE it?, shares Sven as he sips dark whiskey under the shadows of the dimly lit bar.
It?s experiential dining; it feels as though we?ve been invited by the Viking himself to dine in his exclusive mancave as we select our knives from a hand stitched leather satchel.
Our bone marrow starter is served in it?s original housing, accompanied by a generous serving of burnt butter cauliflower. Whole snapper was the fish option the week we dined, and upon it?s arrival the waitress offered to fillet it on my behalf. More out of curiosity than actual requirement I encouraged this, and the result was minimal waste, with pieces of succulent fleshy white fish virtually melting from my fork.
My dining partner selected the beast; a braised beef short rib which came touting rich, gamey flavours balanced with earthy kale.
The wine list is designed for accompanying food, and a tinder-esque voice describes each couple? rich, strong and dark red seeks hearty cut of beast; light and elegant white looking for seafood to pair with. It?s not extensive but it answers to every taste, and the abundant list of cocktails more than makes up for it.
The generous portions fare well in this underground gem, although it seems a travesty that there?s no space for dessert.
We leave with that satisfied, slightly smug feeling as if we were part of some new club nobody knows about yet. It won?t be long.
My great grandparents were Norwegian so I can only assume that somewhere inside me there?s a strong, trained huntress ready to slay a beast. Or have a snapper filleted for me.
Booking is essential.
Address: 267 Cleveland St, Redfern NSW 2016
Guest Post by Yvonne Adams, a featured writer for North Hem.