Just like visiting your cool aunt
TEXT: INGRID OPSTAD | PHOTOS © TANTE BRUUN ÅLESUND
In a shopping centre in the heart of Ålesund, you will find Tante Bruun, a homely café where guests can unwind in a relaxed atmosphere with trendy interiors, while enjoying delicious homemade food. Here, you are encouraged to pick up a magazine, get comfortable on the sofa with a coffee and a slice of cake, and simply feel like you are at home.
This is not your average shopping centre, and not your average café. The building dates back to 1904, and what used to be old apartments has rejuvenated into the perfect setting for a modern feelgood café with a retro vibe. With its original Art Nouveau style, the space is full of old charm, something owner Camilla Stene was keen to embrace when she opened Tante Bruun in 2011. “The walls are full of history, and the different apartments and living rooms with old wooden floors, high ceilings and original features make it an interesting space to work with,” she says. The café has become her baby, and she believes in the importance of great food, service and atmosphere.
Making people feel like home
Often referred to as Tanta, the name of the café comes from the Norwegian word for aunt. Stene created the persona of a hip lady that would capture the essence of the space, a fictional character that could be anyone’s aunt, which makes you feel like you are stepping inside some place familiar. “The concept came naturally; I just followed my heart and my initial gut feeling,” she explains, adding: “It is all about creating a personal and friendly atmosphere, making people feel welcome, like they are when visiting their own aunt.”
Interior design has always been a big passion of Stene’s, something you can clearly see in the premises. Her eye for details and for mixing old and new has given Tante Bruun a unique look, making it a place to come and discover the latest trends in interior design. “I am constantly finding new furniture and decorative items for the café. You should see my garage – it’s full of cool vintage finds that I can’t wait to redecorate with,” Stene enthuses.
Healthy, fresh, homemade food
Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Tante Bruun has quickly become a popular spot in Ålesund. Every month, around 7,000 customers come to visit, including everyone from students who stop by to grab a coffee and do some work in the evenings, to busy business men dropping by to enjoy avocado on toast for lunch. “We want to be a place for everyone. As well as lots of different seating areas, we also have plenty of space for prams and a dedicated area for children to play,” Stene explains.
With a menu full of healthy, fresh food as well as small dishes, scrumptious cakes and a variety of hot and cold beverages, there is something to enjoy at any time of day. The dishes are a mix of Norwegian food and international trends. “We focus on using clean ingredients – a lot of it is local produce – and pride ourselves on serving healthy, homemade food with a lot of flavour,” says Stene. With a menu that can change from one day to the next, she makes sure that regular customers always have something new and exciting to try. A shop section inside the café makes it possible for guests to buy spices and other ingredients to bring home with them.
The wow factor
Stene has succeeded in creating a very special, warm atmosphere at Tante Bruun. Stepping though the doors, you forget that you are inside a shopping centre. “When I was contacted by the owner of the centre with an offer to open a café here in this amazing space, I fell in love with it and could not turn down the opportunity. My aim from the very start has been for it to be a place where people come in and think ‘wow’, where they can let their hair down and just enjoy themselves,” says Stene and smiles. And it is this wow factor, which Stene has so brilliantly created, that makes Tante Bruun such a unique and inviting place to visit.