Move over Ikea - there's a new Swedish meatball slinger in town. Beaver Choice, opened this month by a Swedish family from Stockholm by way of Canada, serves up Scandinavian classics in Tempe. Salads, pitas, wraps, sandwiches and quiche with a Swedish twist load the grab-and-go menu (that, regardless of the name, you can also eat in) and nearly all are less than $10.
The gregarious guy behind the counter is reason enough to stop by - he'll explain the menu, present a plate of samples (everyone gets them, something we've witnessed on repeat visits) and happily prattle away while his mom cooks up your lunch in the kitchen. If he's not entertaining enough, there's always the beaver mascot sporting a blue and yellow Swedish jersey to hold your attention.
Our sampler came with Gravalax and hovmåstar (Swedish cured salmon and sweet dill mustard dressing), a potato salad with a distinct dill flavor, a bright purple beet salad and a lemony citronfromage. Our new Swedish best friend explains everything is homemade from family recipes - and he's in charge of the fromage.
The quick service, lower priced menu eases into the more traditional Scandinavian fare on the bistro menu that can take more than an hour to make. Although, you'll most certainly get a good dose of Swedish, uh, charm with every order.
A Swedish Pita ($5) packs Swedish meatballs, tzatziki, lettuce, onion, tomato and cucumber in two pita pockets. Gravalax salad ($7.50) comes over seasoned pasta with homemade dressing. And the Tunbrödsrulle ($6) wraps up European sausage with mashed potatoes.
The Harmonie Special ($5) that pairs falafel with the Swedish potato salad in a garlic pesto wrap caught our attention, and we grabbed a small side of fries ($1.75) to go with it. (Perhaps because these were the safest, most recognizable items on the menu - and the best bet for vegetarians who don't want to be stuck eating grilled cheese.)
Our safe choice proved the right choice. Delicious fried goodness... and way too much food. This is one wrap that's better eaten with a fork and knife, so you can get a mix of potato salad, falafel, veggies and wrap in each bite without having it all end up in your lap. The fries have a unique texture and go down like deep-fried air.
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Next time you've had a rough night out, check out the Quebec Poutine - fries covered in cheddar and doused in gravy. ASU students take note: this is supposedly a Quebecian hangover cure.
Brace yourself for the surreal Swedish experience, go with the flow, and enjoy!
The biggest letdown: No smørrebrød! Yes, we realize the open-faced sandwiches more Danish than Swedish but the menu does say Scandinavian...
1743-2 E. Broadway Rd