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A Modern Scandinavian Restaurant Group Shuts Up Shop

Rök, which only last year was on the expansion drive, has closed its last restaurant in Islington

Rök has closed its site on Islington’s Upper Street as the owners look to move on
Rök [Official Photo]

Rök, a Scandinavian-leaning restaurant group, which 12 months ago was in expansion mode, has closed its last-remaining site, on Islington’s Upper Street.

It follows the closure of the brand’s first restaurant on Curtain Road in Shoreditch in late September last year. At the time, the owners cited “rising rents and operational costs” as reasons behind the “difficult decision.” Though, they added, it gave them an “opportunity to focus [their] attention on [their] bigger restaurant, Rök Islington.” They added that “We made this decision for the future of the business, two is not always better than one!”

Co-founder and chef Matt Young with his business partners Charles Bakker and Frida Lindmark have written that it is for personal reasons that they have decided, after three and a half years, to close the business.

Earlier this month, the owners wrote that “a lot has happened in the last 3.5 years and priorities have changed during this time. Matt wants to move to Sweden to continue his culinary journey, Charles has had 2 daughters and Frida has a four month old son so we feel we no longer have the time and dedication to continue Rök.

“It’s been one hell of a ride but we want to bow out on a high, so unfortunately this is it from us at Rök.”

Last January the group announced it would open a third — vegan-focussed — site in Soho. It never materialised. The Shoreditch closure came after the area surrounding the site has undergone significant redevelopment and disruption over the past two years, and Upper Street in Islington has been the site of a number of closures in the past 12 months.

The group was known for its modern Scandinavian-adjacent approach: smoked meat, fish and vegetable dishes, much of which was given some time over a wood-fuelled BBQ. Tehy said that their aim was always “to cook our favourite foods using techniques from our grandparents in a non pretentious environment.”

There was also great emphasis placed on ‘New Nordic fermentation’ — cures, pickles, jams — and in the culturing of its own dairy. Rok also produced sparkling wines, ciders, and meads.

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