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Copenhagen Restaurants

F&W names the best Copenhagen restaurants from René Redzepi’s revolutionary Noma to classic Danish spots serving open-faced sandwiches and pickled fish. Plus: New Nordic best values, fantastic bakeries and cocktail bars from the city’s top mixologists.

Copenhagen Restaurants: Insider Picks

Kødbyens Fiskebar

At the industrial-chic Kødbyens Fiskebar in the meatpacking district, the concrete floor and white-tiled walls recall the location’s slaughterhouse origins, but the tanks of glowing jellyfish hint at the restaurant’s new focus. The specialty is local fish and shellfish, like a Danish version of fish and chips-lightly smoked pollack from the Baltic Sea with fried Gotlandic potatoes (created with tubers from the Swedish island of Gotland)-as well as more elegantly plated dishes like a Langoustine bisque with salsify, seaweed and wild flowers. fiskebaren.dk

Nose2Tail

Copenhagen’s entry in the offal-centric cooking genre, is located in an old butcher’s basement in the Kødbyen district. In a simple, white-tiled room, guests eat rich dishes like pork rinds with sorrel mayonnaise and smoked mackerel rillettes. nose2tail.dk

Radio

The name refers to the old national broadcasting station Radiohuset, which used to be located across the street. Partner Claus Meyer is a food TV host, cookbook author and the cofounder of Noma. In a spare dining room with reclaimed wood walls, young chefs Jesper Kirketerp and Rasmus Kliim prepare a $55, three-course, vegetable-focused menus in the New Nordic style, mostly using ingredients grown on Meyer’s farm just outside the city (monumental photos of the farm hang on the walls). The food is more rustic and less expensive than Noma, but is still plated and presented in a beautiful naturalist style. restaurantradio.dk

Royal Cafe

Next to both the Royal Copenhagen and Georg Jensen flagship stores, the Royal Cafe specializes in stellar Danish design (including Arne Jacobsen chairs and a custom Holmegaard Glass chandelier) and a delicious culinary mash-up it calls smushi: open-face Danish sandwiches, or smørrebrød, reinvented in bite-size, sushi-like portions. The toppings combine traditional ingredients with less-expected ones, like pickled herrings with curried apples and a walnut-celery-studded chicken salad spiked with horseradish. theroyalcafe.dk

Copenhagen Restaurants: Splurge

Kiin Kiin

At the Michelin-starred Kiin Kiin, chef-owner Henrik Yde-Andersen brings modern techniques and European ingredients to Thai cuisine, creating a frozen red curry with the texture of ice cream and adding foie gras to his duck laab. But with herbs and spices grown by a Thai gardener two hours outside of Copenhagen, he creates flavors that are as spicy, pungent and tangy as you’d expect in Bangkok. The ground floor is a casual lounge, with great cocktails and snacks (fried lotus root, crispy pork skin); the main dining room is upstairs, ringed by gold leaf Buddhas. kiin.dk

Copenhagen Restaurants: Noma
Photo © Michael Turek.

Noma

René Redzepi is out to define New Nordic cuisine at the world-renowned Noma, which has held the top spot on San Pellegrino’s World’s 50 Best Restaurants list for three years running. His vision is fiercely regional: Disavowing black pepper, olive oil and other nonlocal staples, Redzepi has built his cuisine around mostly vegetables and forages wild edibles, as well as North Atlantic seafood and game, such as deep-sea langoustines from the Faeroe Islands and musk ox from Greenland. One of the signature dishes at Noma is white asparagus cooked with pine branches plucked from trees that grow alongside the asparagus field; it’s a landscape on a plate. Be warned that getting a table at Noma is extremely difficult: The 40-seat restaurant takes reservations three months in advance, over the phone and via their website, and usually fills up within minutes. noma.dk

Copenhagen Restaurants: Best Value

Aamanns

Adam Aamann opened this casual restaurant and takeout spot in 2006 with the goal of reinventing the smørrebrød. In his hands the traditional, often heavy open-face Danish sandwich is light and fresh, with quality house-made ingredients like pickled herring and pork neck pâté or beef tartare dressed with a tarragon-egg emulsion. A stateside outpost opened in New York City’s Tribeca in 2012. aamanns.dk

Meyers Deli

Claus Meyer is Denmark’s most famous food personality, with a series of cookbooks and various food businesses, including Noma, which he co-owns and cofounded with chef René Redzepi. He also operates three outposts of the superpopular Meyers Deli, a casual full-service restaurant, takeout spot and grocer, including one in the department store Magasin. All stock specialty products and serve Nordic-inflected comfort food like fried pork with new Danish potatoes and rhubarb compote. meyersdeli.dk

Photo © Per-Anders Jörgensen.

Relæ

In 2010, Christian Puglisi and Kim Rossen—a sous chef and a waiter at Noma, respectively—opened Relæ on a hip shopping street in a brick-walled space outfitted with plain wooden tables that have drawers holding menus and table settings. There are two menus (one is vegetarian) that change constantly and showcase pared-down dishes like pickled mackerel and paper-thin shavings of cauliflower on a bed of pureed lemon. The four-course prix fixe costs $60, one of the best deals in Copenhagen. restaurant-relae.dk

Torvehallerne

In two gleaming glass and steel market halls next to one of the city’s busiest train stations, Torvehallerne covered market opened to much fanfare in 2011. The 80 or so vendors include a new outpost of the Coffee Collective; Smag, for towering Nordic sandwiches on rye bread; 360° Nord for local microbrews; and Fiskerikajen, for fresh-fried fish and chips. torvehallernekbh.dk

Copenhagen Bakeries and Coffee Bars

The Coffee Collective

This popular coffee chainlet imports and roasts its own beans in a lighter style than American caffeine lovers come to expect. The Jægersborggade location blends the boundaries between barista and customer—there’s literally no front counter, and lines form right up to the back of the state-of-the-art La Marzocco GB5 machine. Besides espresso, there’s always a selection of interesting, single-estate beans available by Aeropress and French press (as well as in the pour-over style at the other locations). Customers can stand alongside the baristas and watch them work or sit at outdoor picnic tables in warmer weather. coffeecollective.dk

Nikolaos Strangas Conditori & Cakeaway

Athens-born Nikolaos Strangas, pastry chef at the Michelin-starred Italian restaurant Era Ora, opened this exposed redbrick conditori (pastry shop) and "cakeaway" in 2010, selling artisanal marshmallows, cookies and mini cakes. He also makes excellent Parisian-style macarons in only-in-Scandinavia flavors like sea buckthorn (a Danish berry). strangas.dk

Copenhagen Bars

1105

Bar manager Hardeep Singh Rehal, one of Scandinavia’s top mixologists, is the creative force behind a terrific cocktail menu of elegant, balanced drinks like the Fleur de Champagne (Chambord, vodka, elderflower cordial and Champagne). His drinks and a roster of talented local DJs make this bar—named for its hip inner-city zip code—one of the coolest hangouts in town. 1105.dk

Ruby

Ruby, which opened in 2007, remains one of the standouts of Copenhagen’s cocktail scene, with inventive drinks so good that one of them found its way to the menu at New York’s pioneering mixology bar, PDT. That would be the Rapscallion—a Euro take on the Manhattan, prepared with single malt whiskey, Pedro Ximenez sweet sherry and pastis. The handsome, laid-back lounge, situated in an 18th-century town house, is filled with dark brown leather sofas and oriental rugs. rby.dk

Mikkeller Bar

From the terrific indie microbrewery of the same name (think cool projects like barleywine aged in bourbon and red wine barrels), this casual pub has a surrealist schoolhouse design with white walls, mismatched chairs and chests of draws floating up the walls. The chalkboard above the bar lists 20 taps, with an emphasis on Mikkeller brews that might range from the light Belgian-style Vesterbro Wit to a jet lag-curing Beer Hop Breakfast, an ultra hoppy and bitter oatmeal stout brewed with coffee. The snack menu is minimal, featuring little cups of peanuts and cheese-and-sausage boards. mikkeller.dk

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