Desert Companion

Review: Disassembly Required

The sophisticated Scandinavian treats at Saga are a delight to behold — and to eat

If you enjoy snacking at IKEA after perusing ready-to-assemble furniture sets, think of Saga Pastry + Sandwich as a culinary cousin specializing in elevated Scandinavian cuisine. Located on the corner of a Trader Joe’s strip mall, the sunshine-filled local restaurant specializes in open-faced sandwiches, a style of dining popular in Northern Europe.

Saga’s menu isn’t extensive, but the eatery delivers value with gourmet ingredients, including Arctic cold-water prawns, smoked salmon, and rosemary-roasted ham. These high-quality proteins are piled high on planks of fresh bread — your choice of white or 7-grain — along with toppings like hard-boiled eggs, Jarlsberg cheese, Roma tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, cream cheese, lemon wedges, and mayonnaise. The prawns are particularly exceptional. Caught in the cold, clean, deep waters of the North Atlantic near Iceland, they have a fresh, briny flavor reminiscent of langoustines and feature a pleasing, snappy texture that’s noticeably different than what’s found in warm-water shrimp. The succulent salmon is fished off the windswept, rugged Faroe Islands north of Scotland and smoke-cured in England.

Can’t decide on which open-faced selection to order? The Smorgasbord is loaded with all three proteins and their fixings. It’s easily one of the most extraordinary sandwiches in the valley.

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Scandinavian cuisine is very dessert-friendly, and Saga offers a lovely collection of treats. Nordic waffles are a favorite, especially with cloudberry jam. The amber-colored fruit is harvested in boreal forests and has a flavor profile that brings together raspberries and red currants, with a hint of apricot and apple perfumes. Or go for a folded Swedish crêpe with fresh strawberries, fragrant slices of gjetost (boiled-down, caramelized goat’s milk known by some as “ski cheese”) or chocolatey Nutella.

WaffleSaga’s pastries and cakes are gorgeous. Norway’s entry, the verdens beste (or “world’s best”), brings together sponge cake and vanilla crème with meringue and toasted almonds for a nutty garnish. Sweden’s elegant Princess cake is sponge cake with raspberries in a pretty green drape of marzipan. Denmark’s kartoffell translates as “potato,” and is a crisp puff of pâte à choux filled with vanilla crème and topped with a big dollop of whipped cream and a dusting of cocoa powder. Other baked items include semla, sweet rolls with cardamom, simple sugar, marzipan, and whipped cream. They’re all handcrafted by Chef Flemming’s Bake Shop on Henderson’s historic Water Street, making for a confectionary connection more than 5,000 miles from the Baltic Sea. For beverage choices at Saga, the lingonberry drink is a sweet-tart classic with fruit-punch appeal. If you’re in the mood for a coffee-based brew, get ready for an epic cup, as Saga uses dark-fired, highly caffeinated beans from Upstate New York’s Death Wish roasters. Even a sip is sure to open Odin’s eye from the deepest sleep.


Saga Pastry + Sandwich
Daily 9a-9p
10345 S. Eastern Ave., #100

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