July 1-3, 2013
What everyone says about the cost of food and lodging in Copenhagen is true. It’s crazy expensive at all price points. That $5 dollar hotdog costs $10 and that $40 bottle of wine costs at least $80. What you don’t hear as often is how good the food is. Just off the plane from Marseille after a scrumptious bouillabaisse the night before, I never imagined that Danish food could begin to rival French cuisine.
Yes, I am aware that Noma, a Copenhagen restaurant, was considered the world’s best in 2010-2012, having lost the title to El Celler de Can Roca in Girona, Spain in 2013. Still, how many Danish restaurants do you see in other capital cities? All this is to say that I’m shocked by the prices and thrilled with the quality.
The meat packing district is where you’ll find the trendiest restaurants and the best food. Reservations are highly recommended.
We wandered into this understated establishment unaware of its status as one of the top hot establishments in town, the chef having formerly worked at Noma. Although we did not have a reservation they gave us a seat at the bar in the center of room, a great vantage point for watching the dining room in action.
The décor, if you can call it that, is urban/commercial minimal with white tile walls, black wooden tables and chairs, and zinc counters. The menu, handed to you on a clip board, has a limited selection of shellfish and other seafood.
We started with the raw marinated brill served with tiny shrimp, seaweed, green tomatoes and garnished with nasturtium leaves, aioli and a fish skin chip.
Blue mussels in apple cider
Fish and chips – lightly smoked cod served with potatoes fried with capers and a raw remoulade.
Cod – served with a salad of asparagus, cucumber, horseradish and Spanish chervil and a side of Danish potatoes with onion cress.
Another stripped down décor in the meat packing district. This one more rustic, with warm, wooden furniture, large windows on two sides and a piano in the corner where live music is played on Tuesday evenings. Again the menu is limited but includes more meat dishes than fish.
We started with six oysters and the gazpacho – garlicky and rich with olive oil – heaven if you love garlic, overwhelming if you don’t.
For mains, we tasted the turbot, perfectly cooked and simply plated on a layer of pickled turnips and wilted spinach;
and the most amazing dish of the evening, maybe of the year, the veal liver – caramelized in butter on the outside and lusciously moist on the inside seasoned with tomatoes, garlic, coriander, green onions, vinegar and red chilies for a hint of heat on the finish. With dishes this good we had to try dessert, an apricot cobbler heavy on the fruit and light on the cobbler served with just a dash of cream.
Groften – smorgasbord lunch
Strolling through Tivoli Gardens we picked this place at random. What looked like a relaxed restaurant from the outside had a lively interior courtyard, really the smoking section – although hardly anyone was actually smoking.
You’re given a check sheet, something like you get at some sushi restaurants, where you mark the items you want and on what kind of bread. Not knowing anything about ordering a smorgasbord lunch we asked the server for advice. He suggested 2-3 items per person depending on how hungry you were, explaining that it’s best to start out with two and add more later if you are still hungry.
With that in mind we ordered the fried herring in vinegar, smoked eel with egg, fish cakes, and liver pâté with bacon. All served on bread with a thick smear of butter. Everything was beautifully presented and tasty. My favorites were the eel and liver pâté, Don’s the herring and fish cakes. Although a super fun lunch experience, it’s not cheap, about $80 including two large beers.
Located in a quiet neighborhood away from the other trendy restaurants of the meat packing district it holds its own in terms of ambiance, quality and innovation. The décor is rustic warm meets urban chic with a combination of bare wood walls and floors, sleek black tables and chairs and just enough other furnishings to give it that lived in look.
Like Fiskebar, the chef of this minimalistic establishment is a former Noma sous-chef. As such the food is well thought out and innovative. The menu is about as stripped down as it gets with a choice of five small plates that you can order as a five course tasting menu or, for smaller appetites choose 3. Portions are small, so if you are hungry, it’s best to get all five. They do serve an excellent bread with a caramelized onion butter along with the meal. We tasted:
Turbot, Asparagus, Mussels, Elderflower – Perfectly cooked turbot topped with shavings of white asparagus in a mussel foam and garnished with elderflower and toasted barley. Would have liked to have tasted more mussel flavor in the foam but otherwise a satisfying start.
Scallops, Dill, Cabbage, Buttermilk – Small, sweet scallops served cold under a layer of shaved glass cabbage and garnished with sprigs of fragrant dill. Drizzled with a buttermilk sauce table side.
Potato, Peas, Smoked Cheese – Tiny pan fried potatoes and peas served with dollops of a light creamy cheese and garnished with crushed potato chips. The most flavor intense dish of the evening.
Chicken, Lettuce, Herb – Really a chicken salad of sorts with a light creamy dressing and garnished with fennel. Our least favorite of the evening.
While the evening was creative, fun and well executed, I can’t say it was the best food I have ever tasted. Best suited for those who enjoy delicate flavors and small portions. We did do the wine pairing with the three course menu, and although we appreciated the selection thought that wine pourings were a little stingy compared to ordering a bottle of wine.
Loved this trendy new hotel for is convenient location, near the train station and the meat packing district, and the friendly staff. The young woman at the reception desk told us about PatéPaté.
Rooms are bright and clean, although some are small. Good Wifi connection.
The breakfast buffet includes a wide variety of quality options.