Rhody Gem: A Taste of Sweden at Cafe Choklad in Providence

May 2023


What it is:

A Swedish cafe with indoor and outdoor seating.


Where to find it:

At the base of College Hill, look for blue awnings and a red “open” flag at the corner of North Main and Thomas streets.


What makes it a Rhody Gem?

Feel like escaping to Europe for an hour or two? Longtime Providence restaurateurs Marie and Jens Retlev founded their cafe with the vision of bringing some Scandinavian flair to the city. “We have been partners in the restaurant business since we got married 40 years ago. We were owners of Redlefsen’s and Jensen’s Great Soups Express back in the days when the Arcade was a mecca for downtown eateries,” begins Marie. “The interior was designed to make customers feel like they are in Stockholm enjoying a cup of coffee and freshly baked pastry – fika!” she explains, referencing the Swedish tradition of taking time to enjoy a good cup of coffee and socialize. Inside, find patrons doing just that amidst colorful walls showcasing Jens’ artwork of landscapes, treescapes, and abstracts, along with Dala horses at the counter, and Swedish words like smörgåsar (sandwiches) painted along the curved wall. Did we mention there’s a fireplace? “We serve breakfast and lunch incorporating some Scandinavian favorites like smoked salmon, shrimp salad, and of course Swedish cardamom rolls… a customer favorite.”


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