Category: Restaurants & Reviews
Published on Friday, 09 October 2015 13:32
Written by Dianne Lawrence
The first time I'd heard about Olson's Deli was about 6 years ago at a party in the Hollywood Hills. Irene, the hostess, laid out an array of Scandinavian appetizers; herring, pickled cucumbers, gravlax (prepared raw salmon), and liver pate. She told me she had bought these delicacies at Olson’s, a Scandinavian deli right in my neighborhood, on Pico Blvd. at Stanley Ave. (between Fairfax and Hauser).
I was as surprised as many of you might be. I've lived in the area for a long time but seemed to have missed this opportunity. I went by and found an unassuming storefront with a few tables, some imported groceries and a large deli counter doing brisk business. A short while ago I drove by and noticed the front of the deli had been spruced up, so I parked, went inside and was as delighted by what I found as you will be.
Olson's Deli has been at this spot since 1948 and was established by Mr. Olson, a Danish immigrant. During the 50s and 60s, the area was a thriving Swedish community and included a Swedish dance club on Pico. In the early 60s the deli passed to Bertil Ohlsson who owned it until 2012 when it was bought by Christian Kneedler. (Bertil passed away at the age of 92, a week before our interview with Christian).
Christian immigrated from Sweden in the late 80s. He has been involved in several restaurant ventures, including Liquid Kitty and is currently maitre 'd at the famous Dan Tana's. Excited about acquiring this landmark Scandinavian prize, he redesigned the interiors with a striking birch-tree wallpaper, old-school oil paintings from his grandmother depicting Swedish hunting scenes and landscapes, classic white Swedish tile and photos from swinging Swedish 60s design and culture.
But the biggest change he made allowed for more sit- down patronage and a generous menu of Scandinavian sandwiches, salads, sides and my favorite -- swedish pancakes, all excellently prepared by Chef Camila Karlstroner.
During two recent visits, I tried the Toast Skagen, referred to as the lobster roll of Scandinavia. Made up of a generous serving of imported Greenland shrimp tossed with mayo, dill, shallots, caviar, spices and served on a tender brioche bun, it was as delicious as it sounds.
My mother is from Latvia, just a short boat ride away from Sweden, and she used to make delicious pancakes, so I had to try Olson's and it easily passed the Mom test. They are slightly thicker than a french crepe and served with jam: Queensberry, Lingonberry or heavenly Cloudberry.
As I enjoyed my meal I noticed a steady stream of young hipsters ordering from the deli which offered a large variety of meats with mysterious names like Goteborgskorv, Cervelat, Falukorv, Flaeskesteg and the more recognizable weiners, German or Hungarian salami, Black Forest ham and smoked salmon. They also offer twelve different kinds of cheeses and a large variety of sandwiches, sides and Olson's specialties, including, of course, Swedish meatballs. Oh...and they have a beer/wine license.
Looking for Christmas gifts? Check out the imported groceries, Swedish gifts and children’s books. To get a look at the whole menu, check out their website. Better yet just get in the car take a little trip to another amazing cultural offering in our wonderful community.
Address: 5660 Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90019
Phone: (323) 938-0742
Hours: Tuesday to Sunday 10 am – 5 pm.