When I lived in Olso a few years back, a little birdie told me about a little birdie. A hidden gem just off of the beaten track...
Take a walk through the throng of downtown Olso, and you'll find a plethora of hipster bars, particularly around achingly cool Løkka. But there's one that you have to work for just that little bit harder; it's worth it though. Concealed from the well-trodden path in Pilstredet sits a unique gem of a bar that has been serving cocktails and coffee in style to those in the know since 1968.
Look for the red and white bird logo and step through the doors to 50's and 60's Scandi design heaven. Welcome to Fuglen (the bird). It feels like you've walked onto the set of MadMen minus the quiffs and the twinset and pearls. The original interior remains intact, a wooden time capsule; furniture correctly positioned about the space. Sleek lines and geometric shapes abound; a perfect blend of form meets function. By day you'll find students and design-conscious business folk quaffing caffeine. By night the mood changes, a young crowd seeking delicious, inventive cocktails. It's compact and bijou, but it adds to the charm, and it's better for the people-watching.
The Scandis take their coffee seriously, Løkka is awash with roasteries and cafés vying for the best blend title. What adds to the pedigree of Fuglen though is the talented team that supports it and their passion for the craft. From an award-winning barista, champion cocktail maker and a design expert, they have picked a winning combination. Their attitude to quality is as age-old as the vintage pieces surrounding them. They are all about traditional techniques; combining classic craftsmanship with modern and passionate barista skills. They offer variations of black coffee, from hand brews like the Aeropress, and the Japanese Kalita brewer. Always changing to offer the best brew of the season. The coffee connoisseurs won't be disappointed and neither will the tea lovers; their traditional ways of brewing are also taken seriously, Indian chai and Japanese mate are some of the tastes you can enjoy in the original atmosphere. The only truly independent coffee bar and shop in Olso, Fuglen is also free as a bird to sell beans from the four best roasteries in town: Supreme Roastworks, Kaffa, Solberg & Hansen and arguably the master, Tim Wendelboe.
If you choose to circulate with the beau monde by night, you'll find them perfectly poised and adorned in garments fitting the surroundings, as if part of the set. Elegant observers casting glances across cocktails. There's a selected menu that lists some of the greatest classics in the world and also features less famous cocktails from the past. They are always adding brave new concoctions, searching for the right balance, with the possible combinations of sweet, bitter, sour and salt being practically endless.
If a café like this was going to have a sister, there is only one place that would befit it, Tokyo. In Shibuya-ku, sits another little bird, a sampling of Oslo. The unassuming swallow with its quality ethos has a lot to sing about; it has become an internationally recognised establishment; featured in Monocle magazine as one of the five best retail concepts in 2011 and announced “worth flying for” by the New York Times coffee columnist Oliver Strand as part of Oslo's exceptional coffee destinations.
Other than selling top class coffee and cocktails Fuglen also vends the very furniture upon which you can recline. So if you fall in love one of the vintage collectables, you can take a little part of the bird with you. They feature pieces by renowned designers such as Birger Dahl, Sven Ivar Dysthe, Fredrik Kayser and Rolf Hesland. "By integrating the objects as a natural part of the interior we are able to invigorate how vintage designs are being presented by making it possible for the consumer to experience and see the different elements in a natural setting." says interiors expert Peppe Trulsen. And that's not all. Just down the road, they possess a 300 sqm storage space with a selection of approximately 4000 vintage items. They also pride themselves on the environmental element, the advantage of reuse is an important part of the FUGLEN concept. "We provide customers with a chance to make an educated choice by being a source of inspiration regarding how to decorate," says Trulsen. Fuglen is the aesthete's utopia, the abode of the enlightened and the coffee cognoscente. So, if you're in town and that fits your description, welcome to your new perch.