In Part II on this slice of Scandinavia, Nathalie Bonney turns our attention to the food scene, from roadside hotdogs to potent negronis, and finding there’s more to the Danish capital than a certain restaurant…
‘You can find good food everywhere in Copenhagen, even the guys at Noma say it’s a shame that tourists think it’s the only restaurant worth going to.’ I’m speaking to Maria Beisheim, my guide on a Copenhagen food tour. Beisheim recommends always doing the food tour on the first day so visitors to the city can get a taste of what Copenhagen has to offer – and to appreciate that you don’t need to book a table at Noma to sample great food.
The tour starts and ends the at the recently built food market, the Torvehallerne, consisting of two long open-sided halls where you can browse Indian spices, fresh fruit and veg, open sandwiches and pastries. Street food in Copenhagen hasn’t quite found its place yet and eating in at Torvehallerne is perhaps the closest you’ll get to it – apart from the numerous hot dog stands of course. ‘A hot dog stand is about the most typically Danish sight you can get’, says Beisheim: ‘There are even Danish songs and poems about them,’ she adds. In true Danish culinary fashion, expect mashed root sides, sourdough bread rolls and organic meat with little or no added salt.
Another bread-based snack that takes on an elevated status in Denmark is the open sandwich. Boasting fresh prawns and crayfish, herring, pickled beetroot and microherb garnishes, a typical Danish open sandwich is made for Instagram, #nofilter needed. And Aamanns is the place to go to in Copenhagen for it. On our visit we feast on roast sirloin with homemade remoulade, juicy roast chicken and salmon rillette. The menu changes every two months, to reflect what is in season – an ethos most restaurants and cafes in the city seem to subscribe to.
All this food touring makes for thirsty work, thankfully Copenhagen’s bar and drinks scene is just as exciting as its food. Norrebro brewery is the oldest microbrewery in town and a great place to come for evening drinks or a cheeky tasting while sightseeing. While Ruby’s ticks off all the classic cocktail-bar hallmarks: a difficult to find location, barmen who love their craft and, with its patterned rugs, lampshades and leather armchairs, a gentleman’s club-style decor.
We end up sitting at the bar to be entertained by beardy, brawny Yeppa and English/canary Island born Ben. From Aalborg, Yeppa pours us glasses of Aalborq Aquavit. He’s pretty keen on the stuff and not just the one from his home town. The 866 is a nordic twist on the Negroni, made with dill aquavit, Campari, grapefruit and a salt rim. The 866 is as strong at Yeppa’s tattooed arms, but like his startling blue eyes, the kind of drink you could slowly lose yourself in.
Newer to the cocktail scene is Lidkoebs. It’s from the same team behind Ruby’s but the bar has a completely different aesthetic. Situated in a former three-storey pharmacy, the main bar’s combination of bare floorboards, anglepoise lamps and white walls contrasts with the cosy rugs, fur throws and roaring fire. Scandinavian design at its finest. An exciting and daring cocktail menu echoes the Danish food scene: in the standout Maelkeskaeg I try cachaca mixed with sea buckthorn syrup and condensed milk, a sprig of dill garnish on top. Pork crackling with blackberry dip makes for a tasty bar snack too and bio wines and home brewed beers are also served.
Located in the stylish Vesterboro area of Copenhagen, the hipster scale here is as high as the dope pushers in freetown Christianshavn – yet Vesterboro and its on-trend inhabitants have managed to avoid becoming parodies of themselves.(Take note Dalston.) My sister and I love the pistachio milkshakes from Granola so much that we have to come back (steak tartare and bloody maries pretty ace too) to the all day eatery. Nearby shop Dora sells an eclectic mix of homewares: art deco trinkets and mirrors sit alongside a basket of brightly painted papier mache masks and there are plenty of boutique clothes and interiors shops too.
The next morning we gorge on a mammoth breakfast at Hotel D’Angleterre. Breakfast just happens to be served in the five star hotel’s Michelin starred restaurant Le Marchal. Eggs any which way we want, fresh avocado, rye bread, smoked salmon and cottage cheese, I tell myself I’m being Scandi healthy – and then I unleash myself on the pastries. The basement spa’s pristine square pool is good enough size to thrash out a decent amount of laps in preparation of the epic breakfast although the giant floating bean bags are pretty tempting. As well as a sauna and steam room, the spa (and hotel bathrooms) is stocked with the beautifully smelling Amazing Space skin and haircare products.
With former guests from Prince to Michael Jackson, D’Angleterre is still the luxury destination in the Copenhagen. The hotel underwent a mass renovation in recent years and its sumptuous interior – plush grey carpets, lilac soft furnishings and 260-year old glass wall lamps which were sent to Italy to be lovingly restored, is as calm and soothing as the fluffy bathrobes and comfy beds. D’Angleterre’ s Nyhavn location is priceless: the hotel’s white palatial facade is set back from the picture perfect harbourside bars and restaurants of New Harbour (Nyhavn). Locals grab beer cans and play music from speakers across from tourists (including yours truly) who dine on the freshest seafood and salty air as well as visually gorging on the brightly coloured harbourside buildings.
Admittedly it’s not in the edgiest part of Copenhagen but D’Angleterre is close by to many an eatery, including the fantastic Pluto. It’s a different offering in the Danish capital; the decor is downtown Brooklyn, the food is almost French and the ambience is unequivocally Shoreditch, but it’s a symbol of Copenhagen’s diversity on the dining scene. And aside from the delicious small plates, I defy anyone not to love the Take That-themed toilets.
After just a few days in Copenhagen, my wallet is empty and my belly overfull. I am spent, but there are still so many places I planned and failed to eat at – Cofoco, Radio, dinner at Le Marchal, Restaurant Bror – and, oh yeah, some place called Noma…
For more information about Copenhagen, including recommendations on eating and drinking and things to do, visit www.visitcopenhagen.com.
For a comprehensive foodie insight into the city, book a tour with Maria at www.foodtours.eu.