10 tips for foodies in Copenhagen
14 April, 2014
By Isabel Loscertales from Gastronomistas
Small, pretty and laid-back, the Danish capital is the perfect destination to enjoy a culinary break. Noma, voted best restaurant in the world three years in a row (2010-2012) and with two Michelin stars, put the city on the international gourmet map and revolutionised the country's cuisine. But there's more foodie heaven beyond Noma. Copenhagen is proud of its desire to update tradition, its love for all things organic, its 'hygge' spirit (pretty, cosy ambience), its passion for design, its sun terraces... Between mouthfuls, make sure not to miss a stroll along Strøget shopping street, the colourful Nyhavn canal or the Tivoli Gardens; take a selfie with the Little Mermaid; explore the liveliest neighbourhoods: Vesterbro and Nørrebro; or wander around the independent area of Christiania - the centre of counter-culture. Go on foot or, like the locals, ride a bike. Here are ten tasty stop-offs for you:
1. New Danish cuisine
If you have plenty to spend, make sure you try and book for Noma online (Strandgade, 93). The chef, René Redzepi, was a pioneer in updating traditional Danish cuisine and recovering local ingredients with a special penchant for all things organic, natural and raw (wild herbs, etc.). He signed the New Kitchen Manifesto in 2004 (à la Lars von Trier) with other chefs which stirred up some trouble. If you do not fancy spending 1600 kroner (around €193) for the set menu (wine not included), you can always have a nosy at the old warehouse where it is located, on the Christianshavn wharf. If it's full, try the two starred Geranium run by Rasmus Kofoed (Per Henrik Lings Allé 4, 8º)
If you're on a tighter budget, we recommend Höst (Nørre Farimagsgade, 41), a cosy restaurant that won the best design in the world award at the Restaurant & Bar Design Awards 2013. A spot-on combination of industrial interior design (warehouse like) and rural touches (some details evoking a farmhouse), and a lively-cum-intimate ambience are the two main features here whose raison d'être comes from these contrasts. For example, the ceiling is made from (recycled) wood and the floor is concrete. Spread over two floors and several rooms, we recommend ordering the set menu (actually, the rest of the menu is fairly short). It comes in at 295 kroner (around €35, wine not included) and offers two dishes and dessert, as well as several surprise amuse-bouches. Try the trout with black chanterelles, cauliflower (uncooked slices), mushroom jus and lots of fresh herbs as a starter; beef shank with mashed potato, carpaccio, beetroot and Madagascar pepper sauce for your main; and Jerusalem artichoke ice cream with an apple, muesli, meringue, sautéed Jerusalem artichoke slices and crunchy caramel crumble. Surprising delicious mixes.
2. Jaeggerborgade Street, as 'in' as it gets
In the multicultural neighbourhood of Nørrebro is the city's hipster-filled street with rows of fantastic spots. In addition to vintage clothes stores, second hand book shops, décor and design boutiques, and art and record shops, there are a few essential foodie outlets. Coffee Collection, at number 10, serves the best coffee in the city thanks to skilled baristas and fair trade coffee. An aromatic spot indeed! The premises itself are very interesting, breaking down traditional barriers meaning you'll find a young guy making coffee as if he were in his own kitchen, with no bar and a huge coffee grinder next to him. The well-respected chef Christian Puglisi (ex-Noma and elBulli) has two highly recommended spots facing one another: Relae (no. 41), with a Michelin star and serving two set menus (one for meat eaters, one for vegetarians) for around €46 not including wine, and Manfreds & Vin (no.40), specialising in natural wines and tapas. In addition, there's the artisan chocolate shop Ro Chokolade (no. 25), the handmade sweets at Karamelleriet by Ipsen /Vigel (no. 36) and the organic bakery Meyers Bageri (no. 9), run by Claus Meyer (co-owner of Noma alongside Rene).
3. Meatpacking District: Industrial cool
The other fashionable neighbourhood is Vesterbro that hides a converted industrial area home to a gourmet oasis for hipsters in pure New York style (nor for nothing does it share the same name as the NYC district). The funny thing is that in Copenhagen, the area is still home to real meatpacking businesses. In addition to the very popular Kødbyens Fiskebar (Flæsketorvet, 100), an industrial premises serving seafood, and the huge Italian terrace Mother, inviting you to spend hours in the sun (Høkerboderne, 9-15), there is the organic BioMio (Halmtorvet, 19). Located in a former Bosch appliance workshop that still has the neon lights on the front, it houses a large room with communal wooden tables and an open kitchen. The menu offers organic international cuisine with dishes to share (such as green beans with celeriac or salmon rillettes), a couple of woks, half a dozen "knife and fork" dishes (the kamut wheat risotto is excellent) and several natural options. Prices average around €35.
4. Hipster bars for hipster city
Still in Vesterbro (although beyond the Meatpacking District), there is a couple of bars (amongst others) for taking a break. On the one hand, the Cafe Granola (Vaernedamsvej, 5) has coffees, juices, milkshakes, breakfasts, sandwiches and cocktails in a relaxed atmosphere playing Motown in the background. On the other, the modern anti-design Bang & Jensen (Istedgade, 130). Famous for its wall with a painting of a sailor re-done in different artistic styles, cool youngsters come here for a quick bit or cocktail at the rickety tables and chairs.
5. La Glace: The most famous cake shop
Copenhagen's oldest cake shop (Conditori) is also famous for being Hans Christian Andersen's favourite. Enjoy its handmade cakes in a classically charming ambience. Its speciality, The Sports Cake, was create in 1891 for the play 'Sports Man' and is made from nougat, whipped cream and caramelised choux pastry. A recommended calorie-filled temptation. Skoubogade, 3.
6. The smørrebrød or open sandwich
It is one of the best known Danish dishes and ideal for a reasonably priced informal meal (Copenhagen is not exactly known for being a cheap city). It comprises a slice of bread and butter topped with different ingredients: smoked fish such as salmon or kipper, cold cuts, pâtés, eggs... alongside some type of pickle or extra something (capers, onion, dressing...). It can be enjoyed at traditional spots such as the Ida Davidsen (Store Kongensgade, 70) or the always busy Schønnemann (Hauser Plads, 16). Some chefs have even come up with updated versions, adding a more foodie touch. This is true for Adam Aaman who, after his success in Copenhagen (Øster Farimagsgade,10), has opened an Aamanns branch in New York.
7. Shooping: Torvehallerne & Royal Copenhguen
Luxury-loving palates can take away a gastronomic souvenir from the modern Torvehallerne market, in Israel Plads square (currently all upside down due to construction work). Encased in glass and split into two structures, the market offers all kinds of gourmet spots and small stands where you can grab a taste of something interesting. If you prefer a 'solid' souvenir, the artisan pottery from Royal Copenhaguen is renowned (the window displays are well worth a look). Amagertorv, 6.
8. Chic wineries
Two popular spots to have a wine in Copenhagen, in addition to the aforementioned Manfreds & Vin. On the one hand, Atelier September (Gothersgade, 30) is a charming former antique shop turned into a café and shop. You can try a natural wine in a cosy atmosphere with a stimulating mix of furniture and artistic original posters (when we were there, we saw a giant Tàpies one), all for sale. It also serves breakfasts and light meals. On the other, Bibendum (Nansensgade, 45) is a pretty intimate French-inspired spot that takes its name from Michelin's dog. As well as choosing from its selection of international wines by the bottle or glass, the tapas come highly recommended.
9. Carlsberg lager
No matter how much they craft their wine lists, the truth is Denmark does not have great wines. So what they do is make beer. Larger fans have a must-see in the city: the Carlsberg Brewery (two entrances: Gamle Carlsberg Vej, 11 or Bryggerhesten, 1), one of the most famous in the world. They offer guided tours lasting around 90 minutes that of course include a tasting. We also tried another highly aromatic full-bodied Danish beer, Nørrebro Bryghus, made in a small brewery. It is easy to find in different bars and restaurants although it also has its own place (Ryesgade, 3).
10. At the epicentre: Andersen Hotel
This new boutique hotel has three things we love: design, comfort and location. Tucked behind the Tivoli Gardens and next to the trendy Meatpacking District, in the heart of Vesterbro, it is an ideal starting point for exploring different areas in the city. Check if they have any bikes available if you fancy travelling on two wheels. Before heading out, take your time with the tasty hearty breakfast with endless combinations for a personal yoghurt flavour, different organic choices and delicious croissants. From 925 kroner (around €111) per night for a double room. Helgolandsgade, 12.
So you feel like visiting Copenhagen, do you? Book your flights here!
14 April, 2014