Friday, May 13, 2005

Gourmet tour of Copenhagen

Rubber Ducks

Surprisingly it’s actually been quite a while since I ate at a restaurant in my hometown of Copenhagen. I may have popped in at the occasional café, but nothing memorable or worth writing about.

Well that change when my friends recently came to visit for an extended weekend.

Save for one meal, we ate everyone in a café or a restaurant.

My friends stayed on 71 Nyhavn Hotel – they liked the rustic warehouse feel to the place, but where not impressed with the service and the logistics of the place. The breakfast room is so tiny and the staff too lazy to walk far that only a fraction of the guests can be accommodated. So in spite of having breakfast included they had to go elsewhere for morning sustenance.

Fortunately the hotel is within walking distance of one of Copenhagens oldest and still most popular cafes, Café Sommersko. On the morning the arrived we had breakfast there, the returned for at least two more breakfasts and we even ended up having dinner there on one occasion.

Everything they do is simple, but good quality and surprisingly cheap for being centrally located and very popular. They even have a non-smoking section. Which is very unusual for Copenhagen.

We did try to have dinner at a microbrewery Nørrebro Bryghus in the Nørrebro part of Copenhagen. The wait for weekend reservations are five to six weeks. Instead we sampled their beer in their tap-room and had a few snack of sausage and potato wedges.

Twice we had lunch at Restaurant Jacobsen just north of Copenhagen proper. The place honors the famous Danish architect Arne Jacobsen. It’s a wonderful light room with a great view of the water and for lunch a modern take on traditional Danish open face sandwiches on dark rye bread.

But the highlight of the weekend was dinner at The Paul – a restaurant in Tivoli, the old amusement park in the middle of Copenhagen. It’s housed in a magnificent green house structure and has a very light and airy feel to it.

Unfortunately it was quite cold on the evening we visited and one of my friends ate dinner draped in two blankets.

The dinner was seven magnificent courses – a perfect blend of almost molecular cooking and more traditional cooking. The most outstanding dish was a quail beet salad served with a scoop of fungi ice cream. Apart form the temperature in the room it was a perfect evening. Here's the menu we had.

On three occasions during the visited we just wanted drinks. One evening we had nice drinks at Café Victor – also a Copenhagen landmark. The very same evening we made the mistake after dinner of not returning to Victor but instead going to Copenhagen’s landmark Hotel D’Angleterre for a night cap.

D’Angleterre is a member of the leading hotels of the world and very posh and old fashioned nice. Their restaurant and bar has just been renovated and completely refurbished.

We agreed it was just like being thrown back to the 80’s – dark brown and wooden tones – one wall looks like it has some kind of exotic cane mounted. A very strange look and combined with almost no light, a slightly depressing atmosphere.

But the worst part was that out certainly expensive cocktails were nothing more than fancy fruit juices. It was simply impossible to detect any kind of alcohol taste through it.

A couple of days later when we visited the bar in another hotel, we found what we craved at D’Angleterre. Library Bar at Sofitel Plaza feels very authentic and almost british. There are real books in the book cases, enough light to actually see your company and a beautiful glass ceiling.

Unfortunately we arrived just as last orders where called and ended up with just beer and champagne. We’ll have to go back and check whether or not they actually put alcohol in their cocktails.

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