Tucked away on the fringe of Ipswich, the Milk Shed Café is a welcome addition to the Suffolk café scene with a Scandinavian-inspired menu that delivers the freshest flavours with a comforting ‘fika’ feeling.

Lunching at the Milk Shed Cafe with owner Clare Forrest, I learned a new word, 'fika'. It's one of the Swedish words that embraces mood, feeling, place and degree of contentment. You've heard of 'hygge', the Danish and Norwegian concept of taking time away from the daily rush to be with people you care about - or even by yourself - to relax and enjoy life's quieter pleasures? Well, fika is the Swedish equivalent, except it specifies that coffee and cake should be involved. In fact, fika comes from 19th century Swedish slang word for coffee, kaffi. Turn it around and you get fika... sort of.

Great British Life: The Milk Shed, on the western outskirts of Ipswich. Photo: Alexander Ward @shotby__al The Milk Shed, on the western outskirts of Ipswich. Photo: Alexander Ward @shotby__al

Semantics. Whatever the origins or full meaning of the word, Clare and her husband, Scott, do fika extremely well at the Milk Shed Cafe. Just off Hadleigh Road on the western outskirts of Ipswich, on the way to Sproughton, it's a delightful semi-rural cafe in the converted milking shed of a farm that once worked here. The food is Scandi inspired and delicious.

If you pitch up for breakfast you'll find granola with poached rhubarb and warm oat milk or yoghurt; sweet potato rosti with streaky bacon, creme fraiche and lingonberry jam; herby avocado and poached egg or roasted butternut squash on sourdough; crisp, buttery Nordic waffle - 'våffla' - with toppings such as poached rhubarb, cardamon syrup and yoghurt, or berries, yoghurt and maple syrup, smoked streaky bacon and maple syrup, or smoked salmon, creme fraiche and herbs; or the Shed breakfast, a full plate that comes in a vegetarian version too.

At lunchtime you can choose from a fabulous selection of Smørrebrød - open sandwiches - on rye and sourdough, served with tasty, freshly made coleslaw. Toppings include honey and mustard roasted gammon, cheese, mustard mayo and pickled mustard seeds; smoked salmon, herb cream cheese, pickled cucumbers, red onion and dill; Skagenrora (prawn salad), boiled egg, dressed leaves and dill; egg salad, flaked smoked mackerel, pea cress and red onion; and roasted butternut, lemon cashew aioli, crispy onions and spring onion.

Great British Life: Scandi-inspired delights Photo: Alexander Ward @shotby__al Scandi-inspired delights Photo: Alexander Ward @shotby__al

There's a generous Scandi Bowl of beetroot and apple salad, new potato salad, herby spelt, coleslaw, pickled beets and dill pickled cucumber to which you can add smoked salmon, herrings, smoked mackerel, avocado or boiled egg. Plus there are waffles, simple herrings and toast, and a sourdough toastie of roasted butternut, Emmental and carrot and spring onion chutney. There are daily specials too, such as the popular Milk Shed Swedish meatballs

Over a delicious Smørrebrød (me), and a Scandi Bowl (Clare), with a cup of Suffolk roasted Butterworth's coffee, Clare told me how she and Scott are living the dream at the Milk Shed Cafe. They are, she says, fans of the 'cafe culture'. They live in Kesgrave and in the past few years, until Covid came along, they commuted to jobs in London. At weekends, they relaxed over brunch or lunch at various destination cafes.

'We always thought that one day we'd like to open a cafe in the Ipswich area,' says Clare. In March 2020 they got their chance when they were both made redundant one week apart. For Clare the news came on the first day of lockdown. 'So, it brought our plan forward,' she says. 'We started hunting for a place that could be our cafe.' They found the Milk Shed, previously used as a recording studio, then offices.

They spent months renovating inside, creating an outside eating area and a car park, uncertain of exactly when they would be able to welcome any customers. Then in April 2021, as things relaxed and people were allowed to meet outside, they opened up, testing out their Scandi theme. Scandi was always the aim; Scott worked in Sweden for a while and developed a love of the culture and the food, including fika. And why not?

For anyone who thinks Scandi or Swedish means pickled fish and more pickled fish, try one of chef Surrey Rogers' Smørrebrøds. My smoked salmon, herb cream cheese, pickled cucumbers, red onion and dill was a taste sensation on a slice of sourdough. The creamy then crunchy textures are so satisfying, and the pickled cucumbers perfectly offset the salty fish and cheese. There's a lightness and freshness about this type of food that I really welcome, especially after a winter of root veg bakes and casseroles, although I'm sure Scandinavians have their own comfort foods for those long, dark days.

Great British Life: Scandi-inspired delights Photo: Alexander Ward @shotby__al Scandi-inspired delights Photo: Alexander Ward @shotby__al

When it came to finding a chef, Scott called on his friend Surrey, who had previously worked at The Woolpack pub in Ipswich, followed a spell in the corporate world. She was keen to get back to cheffing and has wasted no time in interpreting the Scandi theme for Suffolk diners. In addition to the her breakfast and lunch menu, there is an impressive cabinet of Nordic and British cakes and bakes, '99 per cent baked in-house,' says Clare (she and her mum both contribute), such as Danish ‘Drømmekage’ and cinnamon buns ‘Kanelbullar’. There's a good selection of hot and cold drinks, and the cafe is licenced.

The couple support local suppliers whenever possible - they use Tosier chocolate, Harvey & Co sourdough, M&M Butchers in Stowupland, Anglia Produce for fruit and veg - they put local artists on the walls, and they host a range of events from creative workshops, to dog day, Christmas markets, wreath-making, paper-folding, and, of course, celebrating Scandi traditions, such as 'Våffeldagen' Waffle Day, Cinnamon Bun Day and Midsummer. They've also held a supper club with a seven-course Scandi taster menu, and have plans for more.

So, if you're feeling in need of some rest and relaxation over coffee, cake and Smørrebrød, make your way to the Milk Shed. Because we all need a little more fika in our lives.

Insta @milkshedcafesuffolk