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:

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