For me, it seems almost unimaginable to plan a holiday without taking an interest in the cuisine of a destination. Food and drink are integral to understanding the life of a city: at the next table in any local café or bars there may be a business meeting taking place, friends catching up over drinks or a family celebrating their loved one’sbirthday. So, as well as visiting the galleries and museums, make time to venture out for breakfast, linger over a coffee and a pastry, shop in the nearby supermarket and heed local recommendations for dinner.
In Copenhagen, in particular, food is celebrated, experimented with and savoured. Whilst bicycles may rule the roads, it is eateries who dominate the pavements. Alongside traditional Danish pastries and rye bread smørrebrød, one can also try excellent Neapolitan pizza, classic French food and experimental new Nordic cuisine. Some of my top tips for eating in the city are below:
Mad & Kaffe - The lack of spare tables here, particularly on a sunny day, is a testament to Mad & Kaffe’s well-earned reputation as one of the best brunch spots in the city. Expect a magnificent smörgåsbord, with your choice of three, five or seven breakfast foods. Some of our favourites included avocado with chilli oil and almonds; yogurt with matcha and muesli; eggs scrambled with mushrooms; baskets of excellent rye bread; and of course decadent cinnamon buns and Øllebrød. On a hot day, I recommend the homemade iced teas too...
Sønder Boulevard 68
Granola - Start the morning slowly or relax over a leisurely lunch at this classic French-style cafe, with a 1950s feel and a beautiful wood-panelled bar. Perch outside or by a window to watch passersby on the fashionable Værnedamsvej, which is lined with tempting eateries, high-end interior design shops and colourful florists. We ate oozing croque monsieurs topped with fried eggs and the eponymous granola served with skyr, but were envious of the ‘big breakfast plates’ served to neighbouring tables. There are excellent fresh juices and the coffee, though not exceptional, comes with personalised sugar sachets and a crumbly, buttery biscuit.
Sankt Peder’s Bageri - Who could fail to fall for a city that makes a pastry especially to help its citizens get through Wednesday? Head to Copenhagen’s oldest bakery for the Onsdagssnegle (Wednesday snail): a sweet, wholemeal dough filled with a cinnamon-heavy spice mix and sprinkled with your choice of sugar or icing. Best taken away and enjoyed with a superlative coffee from the Coffee Collective site in nearby Torvehallerne.
Skt Peders Stræde 29
Grød - Goldilocks’ spiritual home would look very much like Grød. This grain-focused cafe serves perfect porridge, which is rich and velvety, yet retains the slight bite of oats, barley or spelt. Toppings range from the healthy, such as fresh fruit, toasted nuts and skyr, to the pure decadence of their homemade dulce de leche. In my (rather beautiful) bowl, a sweet apple compote flecked with vanilla was the perfect counterpoint to tart, strained yogurt, with homemade muesli providing a little crunch. Later in the day, there are excellent savoury options, such as a seriously creamy risotto topped with lemon oil, parmesan and seasonal asparagus or a fragrant chicken, ginger and peanut congee.
Torvehallerne - Hall 2, Stade 8A, Linnésgade 17
Aamann's Delicatessen - This deli is the place for seasonally-inspired, though rather pricey, open sandwiches known as smørrebrød. Though deli was rather lacking in atmosphere on our visit, the superlative smørrebrød were a delight of contrasting textures and flavours: crisp, soft, smooth, salty, sweet, sour. The avocado with pickled shallot, garlic and lemon cream was delicious, but best of all was a a herb-salted salmon and cream cheese, lifted by a little heat from pickled onions, radishes and watercress.
Øster Farimagsgade 10
Meyer’s Bageri - In a city not short of bakeries, Meyer’s is certainly one of the finest. Established by Claus Meyer, co-founder of Noma turned restaurant entrepreneur, Meyer’s Bakery is the place to pick up your daily loaf, a lunchtime sandwich bursting with fresh ingredients, or a beautifully-plaited kanelsnurrer (cinnamon bun) made with valharona chocolate. Alternatively, stop by the deli on Gamel Kongevej for a light lunch or gourmet take-away antipasti and picnic boxes. The deli also serves a generous brunch of almost three courses, including fruit and granola, soft boiled eggs, sausages with raw vegetables, Danish cheese, pancakes with lemon curd, and pastries.
Gl. Kongevej 107
Mother - set in the heart of Copenhagen’s lively meatpacking district, Mother constantly hums with hundreds of clientele who flock to the long outdoor benches or, in inclement weather, the cosy indoor tables that overlook the pizza oven. The ‘mother’ is the sourdough starter that imbues their pizza with that addictive tang and chew. In true Neapolitan style, the blistered, pillowy crust harbours a thin base topped with the best Italian cheeses, cured meats and vegetables, as well as Danish smoked salmon and mozzarella made with organic local milk.
Madklubben - Friendly staff and relaxed atmosphere make Madklubben the perfect destination for drinks with friends, an informal supper or a nightcap. You can also order three desserts for around £10, making Madklubben a good place just for dessert. Excellent cocktails have afocus on liqueurs, fruit and citrus flavours; the ‘El Diablo’ of tequila, cassis, lime and ginger beer was particularly good. For those who would rather steer clear of spirits, there are several local varieties of beer on tap.
Höst - Those in search of new Nordic cuisine, but not seeking to remortgage their house to pay for it, would be well advised to make a reservation at Höst. Perhaps Copenhagen’s most atmospheric restaurant, Höst creates the consummate romantic feel through its fluttering candles, white-washed walls and furniture, gentle indie soundtrack and a small forest of plants (yes, trees inside the restaurant). But while the atmosphere may lull diners into a sense of contentment, the food is designed to startle and delight. Sometimes such attempts to defy expectations don’t work, for instance a delicate piece of hake was overpowered by a strong chicken broth. However, in most cases our initial scepticism turns into pleasant surprise upon tasting, from an amuse-bouche of meringue with ham terrine and cress, pork shank glazed in a lingonberry jus, or ice-cream and rhubarb compote served with crisps.
Nørre Farimagsgade 41