Thursday, June 25, 2020

Danish Drinking

Trip date: July 2019

On this Copenhagen trip I had a few cocktail bars I was excited to return to, and some new (and/or new to me) on my list. Cocktails in the Danish capital tend to be inventive, artistic, and delicious, much like the city itself.

Do you have a favorite bar that you have found while traveling? Where, even though you've only been a couple of times, you feel very comfortable and welcomed? Balderdash is one of those bars to me. There's always a cast of local characters, jovial conversation flows, and the drink menu changes seasonally and is awesome.

Take for example this strawberry-foie gras bourbon old fashioned on the seasonal strawberry menu. TASTY! Served with a side of fresh peas in the shell as a bar snack. Bonus that owner Geoffrey made it for me. 

Aaron joined me here one night and we both had a great time before heading out to dinner. I can't recommend it enough.

Another spot I've been to before is arguably the best known cocktail bar in town; Ruby. Aaron, Albert, and I went in pretty early on a Friday night and were seated on a big gorgeous leather couch. The menu is still packed with multi-ingredient drink choices, and the space is as beautiful as ever. 

But we all felt that our drinks were on the sweet side while the service was a bit tart. It was a one-and-done stop for us and I will probably give them a pass on my next trip, if only because there are so many great bars in Copenhagen now. 

On the "new-to-me" places I discovered this time around, TATA cocktail bar in the Hotel Sanders was wonderful! Aaron and I went on my first night in town as Jonas was working and is a friend of Aaron's. We had a lovely time talking with him about the city and the cocktail culture. 

We also had some really great drinks! Check out the glassware in the photo below! Beautiful and delicious! And the space is super cozy and the location is great, right near Nyhavn. I plan on a repeat visit next time!

Duck and Cover has been around for some time but I hadn't been before. Aaron and I stopped in before dinner one night and were happy to see the owner Kasper behind the bar. The menu is incredibly unique, with lots of herbal and bitter ingredients, one drink even had grilled asparagus! Of course I had to try it and it was so refreshing!

Duck and Cover is a hip, dark little den that is partially subterranean. It is definitely a spot I'd like to drink at again!

One afternoon Albert, Aaron, and I visited Empirical Spirits for a tour and tasting. Opened in 2017, this distillery is odd, in a good way. They distill various flavors of spirits, vs. vodka or whiskey. 

Odd combinations of flavors, distilled and bottled (or canned), all with odd names (Fuck Trump and His Stupid Fucking Wall made from made from distilled barley, Belgian Saison yeast, and koji). It was very interesting and fun. You'll see some of their products around town if you don't have time for a tour.

If you are in Copenhagen on a gorgeously sunny day, and looking for a glass of wine, look no further than La Banchina. Actually since they have a sauna this could be a great winter spot too! And it is a full café with indoor and outdoor seating. But I was there for a cold glass of white wine and a spot in the sun on their dock

Another lovely time drinking lovely cocktails and wine in the very lovely Copenhagen. Skål!

 *At the time of this writing many bars in Copenhagen are still closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Please contact them for up-to date hours of operation. *

All Copenhagen photos here.

Other posts from this trip:

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Danish Dining

Trip date: July 2019

Aaron and I were spending five days in Copenhagen; the agenda... to eat as deliciously as possible! We had done a lot of research, made a lot of reservations, and tapped into the savings accounts. We were ready!

One of my favorite things to eat in Denmark is smørrebrød. We had decided on two classic restaurants, neither I had been to before. I was excited!

Our first lunch of our trip was at Palaegade in Central Copenhagen. The restaurant has a traditional modern look and feel with lots of paneling and primary colors. We started with a selection of small dishes, tapas style, paired with schnapps, as you do!
Then we both had one of the iconic smørrebrød, my choice being a traditional shrimp with mayonnaise. These were large and you only needed to order one. And it was perfect!

I really liked Palaegade and was sad to hear recently that they experienced a fire right before the COVID pandemic. Luckily they have recently been able to reopen in a new space and things sound better than ever!

Our second smørrebrød meal was my favorite this time around. Aamanns 1921 is gorgeous and exciting from the moment you walk in. Brass and glass give a semi-opulent feeling and the service is spot on.
The smørrbrød here are a bit smaller and range from traditional to very unique, they recommend 2-3 per person. The restaurant also has a huge selection of house-infused schnapps to pair with.

I chose two: a super interesting marinated herring and a traditional chicken salad. Both were fantastic.
I can't wait to return here on my next visit. It was very busy so I'd say ressies are a good idea.

For a more casual lunch option we found Bridge Street Kitchen to be great! It's a very fun outdoor food court with lots of dining choices. Burgers from well known Gasoline Gill (delish), smørrebrød from Palægade, dumplings from Will at the Bridge, etc. I even found a wine stall :)

Is it even a trip to Copenhagen without visiting Torvehallerne? The food hall is a must-stop for me as is breakfast at Grod. Porridge with perfectly ripe strawberries, chopped almonds, and homemade caramel sauce is what I recommend!
Aaron and I spied a duck confit sandwich place that is on my list to try next time also!

On my first night in town, Aaron and I had walked to Fiskebaren in the Meatpacking area. This restaurant had been recommended to me by multiple friends so I was looking forward to checking it out.. We started with a drink at the bar while we waited for our table to be ready. The space is busy and loud! The service however was pretty slow.

It feels very casual but almost all the dishes are dressed up with floral garnishes.
As the name implies, the menu is predominately seafood and it's all absolutely delicious. I'm not sure if they were having some staff issues which lent to the slow service but if you go be sure to make a reservation and don't have anywhere to be after. I'd def go back though!

On my last trip to Copenhagen Amass Restaurant was one of my top experiences so I really wanted to go back. Aaron, Albert, and I arrived on time for our dinner reservations but our table wasn't ready. There weren't any spots at the bar and a family had taken over the only couch in the bar and were eating with their kids. As the gardens in back were all dug up, there was no outside seating so we didn't have anyplace to wait.

We were excited when we finally sat and dinner started. We opted not to go for the wine pairings but instead chose a nice bottle to share. All of the dishes looked lovely but but they were all just "fine". Not what I expect of one of the top places in town.

The service was actively bad. Chef Orlando wasn't in the kitchen on this night but really that shouldn't matter. We were all disappointed with our experience.

We tried their sister restaurant Broaden & Build the next day for lunch. It's in the same industrial park as Amass and is where you can get the much lauded AFC (Amass Fried Chicken). We had biscuits as big as a cat's head, a gorgeous green salad, fried potatoes, grilled mackerel, and of course the AFC. All was very good.

Broaden & Build sadly did not survive the COVID pandemic and is now closed permanently. AFC can still be had however, and is now a part of Amass.

Since my last visit, superstar Noma Restaurant had closed, moved into a new custom-built space, and started offering only one menu per season. Aaron had secured us reservations for the summer offering; a vegetarian menu. A few of his friends were joining us, including another restaurateur couple and some local friends. We were a table of 8.

The new space is absolutely stunning, the location on a small lake in the Refshalevej area gorgeous! We were greeted and led into a greenhouse where we were offered beer or cider.  After this we walked to the main entrance where Chef Redzepi greeted our group, some of them friends of his.

As in the old space, the kitchen staff gathers to welcome diners as they enter. It's a great gesture and really sets the tone for the evening. We were seated in a big beautiful room but unfortunately half our table (mine) looked out on forested land thru a narrow window, our backs to the room. However we did see a fox!

The 19 courses with wine pairings were a mixed bag for me. Some like the chilled onion bouillon, celeriac cannelloni, stuffed zucchini flower, wild mushrooms with barbequed pine, and crispy bees cooked with chocolate were really interesting and delicious.
But other dishes, the mold flight as I referred to them (mold pancake with truffle, asparagus preserved in mold, mold pie) were not tasty and I felt that they were there just push the envelope. Others disagreed. They were wrong. KIDDING! To each their own...

Besides the hits and misses, we were not offered a tour of the kitchens until after they were closed and the chefs had gone. I really think that is a big misstep. I know that everyone except Albert had been before but who doesn't love a kitchen tour? It would have been easy enough just to ask halfway through. It's not like that mold was getting cold. :/
Anywho, it was an enjoyable evening with old and new friends, but my first experience at Noma was much better; both in food and service. Would I return again? Depends on who is footing the bill!

Without a doubt the best meal we had in Copenhagen was our last, at Restaurant Alouette. Chef/owner Nick Curtin had been at our table at Noma so it was great to have him greet us and show us around his lovely spot.
I was surprised at how absolutely gorgeous the 1 star Michelin restaurant is, outside it doesn't look like much! It is bright and airy with an open kitchen and some fantastic service.
As Aaron is personal friends with the chef and his wife, we were treated to a few special items (hello tin of caviar!). But otherwise we had the normal 5-course menu with wine pairings. The food was exactly what I love; fun, interesting, quirky, delicious.

The "Old Danish Dairy Cow" tartare with sea bean and caviar was outstanding but the turbot with bone sauce and lemon thyme was probably my favorite dish of the night.
I can't recommend Alouette enough. And I can't wait to visit again! I'm so glad to hear that they have been able to reopen now that COVID restrictions have been lifted.

And of course I just had to get a traditional pølse at the airport. God how I love those Danish hotdogs!!

Big thanks to my dining buddies Albert and Aaron! Can't wait to get around a table with you again!

All photos from Copenhagen here.

Other posts from this trip:

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Danish Design

Trip date: July 2019

Although it had only been a month since my friend Aaron and I had traveled together in Croatia we were meeting up for another exciting adventure; first stop Copenhagen!
I'd only been once before and had fallen pretty hard for the Danish capital, so I was thrilled to go back with Aaron who had been many times. And as an extra bonus Aaron's friend Albert, who I had met a couple of years before in NYC, would be joining us along with his friend Sherri. 

I booked on Icelandair in coach, taking advantage of a good sale price, and paid a little extra for an exit row seat. Icelandair gives you the option of bidding for a Sega Class upgrade but mine was not accepted. I used my Priority Pass to hang out in the lounge at SeaTac before the fairly comfortable flight to KEF. It was an easy transfer and my flight to CPH was also comfortable as I had paid a little more for a "more leg room" seat near the front of the plane. 

Once at Kastrup Airport I jumped on the metro to Norreport, I actually meant to take the train to Central Station but was a bit jet lagged and not paying attention. No worries, I just had a little longer walk to the Hotel Alexandra. I loved my one night stay here on my last trip and was doing the same this time. I had booked a Single Room Superior this time around and was rewarded with a very cool space designed entirely in 1950's Danish design, including a Finn Juhl chair and Le Klint wall lamps. I was super happy with my room but my windows opened right onto H.C. Andersens Boulevard which is very busy, so I'd request a room facing a side street next time.
I just love that the entire hotel is outfitted in amazing Danish furniture and curios. It is such a nice change from your average hotel decor. 
As hotels are expensive, Aaron had found a great Airbnb for us, right near Norreport metro/ train station and the Food Hall, where we checked in on our 2nd day. We loved the open, airy space, cool modern Danish design, and views of the park.
My room even had a little outdoor space which looked out onto the neighboring roof tops. I can't recommend this apartment enough. Such a comfortable space, great views, and an elevator. Look into if you are needing a 2-bedroom while visiting!

Hotel Alexandra offers guests free entry to the Design Museum and since I hadn't had a chance to visit it on my last trip I made it a priority to go this time. I chose to walk as I just love exploring the neighborhoods in Copenhagen. The museum is in the Frederiksstaden district, which is considered one of the most important rococo areas in all of Europe. 

The Design Museum is located in the old Frederik’s Hospital building, dating from the 1750s. The museum moved in 1926 but was founded in 1890 and was in another building before the Hospital was closed and gifted to them.
It's a very large museum and is absolutely filled with objects, art, furniture, ceramics, fashion, etc. On top of all the big name Danish designers, there was a special exhibit on Bauhaus while I was there. I really enjoyed spending time here! I felt like I was in the coolest store ever (and completely out of my price range!)

Although prices can be exhorborate, shopping in Copenhagen is a design nerd's dream. We stopped into Le Klint having all noticed their gorgeous window display. I recognized the lights from my hotel room decor. This is a great place to check out a full range of the designer's wares!

Hay House is an excellent stop for housewares (and also views of the Skøget shopping streets) with two floors in a beautiful old building. I've found cute and unique things to bring home on both my visits.
Sherri and I had a great time shopping at Denmark's famous Illums Bolighus also. There are four floors packed full of everything from fashion, to art, to furniture, to housewares... and there was a sale going on! They also carry my favorite bougie licorice.

In Copenhagen design is all around and it's one of the things I look forward to when I visit. I find the style to be clean, modern, cool, and fun. Of course there are many names that are widely recognized like the electronics manufacturer Bang & Olufsen, or the furniture designer Arne Jacobsen, or even the architect of the Sydney Opera House Jørn Utzon. But I like that when you are in the city it is everywhere, in small details; even on the street. 
Got a favorite Danish designer? Leave me a comment about them!

All Copenhagen photos here.

Other posts from this trip:

Danish Drinking
Copenhagen Bakery Porn

Weekend in Boise

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