Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Pleasant Autumn Afternoon at Björngårdsvillan Cafe in Slottsskogen

The road entrance into Slottsskogen via Göteborg Botaniska Trädgårdens Trolley Station. This day of October 28, 2012 was a welcome relief from the constant cold wet weather which for the most part has plagued Scandinavia for the entire year. Ask anyone and you'll find there was hardly any summer to speak of. 
Slottkogen Site Map
For the most part, this was a pleasant day and one of the most memorable times of Autumn fall colour I have seen in all of my almost 7 years having lived here in Göteborg. The easiest way to get to the Björnvårdsvillan Cafe is by way of Trolley to Botaniska Trädgårds Stop. From that point it is an easy directly straight ahead walk towards the Cafe which will eventually come up on your left hand side of the walk. The trees of the  Slottsskogen Park is loaded with numerous Northern European Oak (Quercus robur) which produces most of the Fall colour you see in the Park. There are also other trees like Björk [Silver Birch] (Betula pendula), European Aspen (Populus tremula), Gray Alder (Alnus incana) and Norway Maple (Acer platanoides). Beautiful walk all the way to cafe with all sorts of families taking advantage of the rare sunny day and even  the squirrels and birds were out in force rejoicing in the brief pause between storms. 

One of the major things I do like about Swedish Parks here is
the way they leave dead tree snags in the forests. They provide
perfect cover and potential building sites for the native woodpecker
here which bores holes into the dead wood of the tall tree trunk,
which late will be utilized by other cavity nesting birds or even
by the local squirrels.
Brief Björnvårdsvillan Building History

Historical Source Info:

Photo by Biketommy 2010

Modern appearance of  the
Björngårdsvillan Cafe
The modern building architectural-wise leaves much to be desired. It is a product of the 1960s design which was even typical of the bland architecture I grew up around in 1960s California. As you can see from the photo here on the right, this generic style example of modern architecture as it was considered in the 1960s lacks the character and charm of the original building. Having said that, the present owners who run the Cafe have gone to great lengths to invest much into giving their restaurant and coffee house a warmth and charm that are not normally found in Sweden in this line of business. Clearly, when someone ventures out for an afternoon or evening meal, besides great food there is an element of atmosphere that is desired. One of the owners, Bashar and his partners have invested a lot of time, energy and money into upgrading the decor of the cafe. The Cafe itself was originally built in 1906 with a design look that was popular back then called the Norse Skansen Style. The restaurant struggled for sometime because government regulation did not allow for Alcohol to be served on the premises. In fact early one it was even abandoned for around ten years before attempts were made to reopen. Sadly, the building burned down to the ground on December 14, 1951. Nothing was saved. It wasn't until 1962 when the present structure was rebuilt by a group of businessmen.  Take a look below of the once grand looking structure which truly looked more like a Victorian Style Railroad Depot.
At present the restaurant has the look and feel of a modern day Coffee House in Seattle, Washington where Radio Host Frasier Crane, family and friends would show up for a warm & cozy getaway for private  KaffeeKlatsch. What I personally noticed this past summer is that early in the morning when the Cafe first opens, the book reading crowd would come in for their flavourite Coffee and dessert treat, only to find a quiet corner either inside or out in the outdoor veranda under a sun umbrella to enjoy a few moments of pleasure reading just before the busier lunch crowd came through around 12:00 noon. And come they do. This place is extremely popular with young families with children who visit the Slottsskogen Zoo located on the hill just above the Cafe. The later afternoon crowd will enjoy a quiet time with friends and several of the concerts which are often a daily afternoon summer feature there at the Cafe an the outdoor Amphitheater. 

The main manager and operator of the Cafe, Bashar, is extremely conscientious and hospitable to his customers needs. It is he who has designed the main menu along with some input from partners & close friends, but mostly Bashar is the Head Chef at the restaurant. He runs a disciplined ship and I can personally account for the extreme cleanliness of the kitchen and back storage rooms. He is tireless and always energetic. I have no clue where he acquires all his energy, as you very rarely will see him take a break. He is also mostly, along with partners of course, responsible for many of the newer changes at the restaurant. Not only the menu, but also the decor and newer furniture which many will recognize as different from past visits. His brother also often works there as an assistant and he is also a very genuine incredibly nice and friendly individual. customers respond favourably to his service there. 
Having Coffee and saying hello to 
Bashar's brother Wasfi
It should be noted that aside from the wonderful assortment of desserts and other treats made from scratch, they also have a large variety of gourmet styled dishes like various Greek style Salads, Salmon Salads along with several pasta dishes and several different Lasagna dishes. It is also important to note that unlike the original restaurant of several decades ago, they do serve several domestic and imported Beers here, like the very well known Czech Republic Staropramen Beer or the ever popular Mexican Brew from Mexico Cerveza Corona. At least this is what I've seen most customers drinking outside while watching the concerts and other festivals. 

Outdoor Picnic Area
But let's not forget some other adult beverages for which their patrons consume in moderate quantities. Somersby which is a alcohol beverage company from the United Kingdom, produces several varieties of Cider which are sold here. The popular ones I've seen here are the original Apple Cider, but also Pear and Blackberry Ciders. My wife and I visited Poland back in April of this year and we experienced Somersby's Apple Beer. But they don't market it here in Sweden. At least we've never found it at the government store called the Systembolaget . Whatever! I have mentioned it to Bashar, but the distributor knew nothing about it. This beverage doesn't have the normal sticky syrupy taste and texture of many sweet ciders. The Apple Beer has a distinct hint of Apple all compacted into a great tasting beer. By all means keep asking for it at Systembolaget, maybe they'll order it.

BTW, here is the link to their full Menu. Keep in mind they are always experimenting with newer and newer specials, so keep up to date: Björngårdsvillan Cafe Menu

The Concert Stage is quiet now in Winter Season
But not so quiet during the summer season

Full Website Home Page and Blogg.

This is the view from the outdoor veranda picnic area. It is quiet now in Autumn and Winter, but kicks in come May when temperatures warm and people who have endured months of Cabin Fever are itching to get out into the city Parks and sunshine with there families

But it can reeeeeaaally get crazy and busy in the summertime. Of course those long Swedish Summer Nights where it doesn't get totally dark until 11:00 pm (23:00) actually encourage the Park visitors to linger longer.
I've actually got more pictures and photos of the park, but this will do for now. This page is mainly dedicated to the wonderful time we spent at Björngårdsvillan Cafe. Next Slottsskogen Park post will have more nature pics, for now enjoy the Cafe. They are only open on Weekends now but will be open full time in spring. Look up the website for full directions and open/closing times.
Important Reference Links for Reading:
Slottsskogen Park in Gothenburg since 1874
Björngårdsvillan Cafe - Facebook Page
Varför? Därför! Björngårdsvillan Cafe


  1. The park sounds like a great place to spend the day. I like that trees are left for the woodpeckers to use. Nice review on the cafe. I also enjoyed your post above. I would never dream of making my own chips. Thanks for sharing your recipe. Have a great weekend!

  2. Thanks Eileen

    I love cooking and finding great places to eat. My life in the southwestern USA previously was spent mostly outdoors as opposed to being shackled by an indoor lifestyle because weather or climate here restricts what you can do. So it's been a challenge for me to find things new that I like doing.

    I have for a long time thought if creating artificial woodpecker log trees and erecting them in my yard complete with already made holes for bird nesting outside my window. I'm still working on the idea, but it would take specialized equipment to make it work.



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