It’s official, the coolest thing to do this cool season is to hygge… everyone wants to hunker down, cosy up, and do what the Danes do when the going gets cold! According to all the books and blogs, and there are apparently many authorities on this matter now, hygge is about creating all the warm fuzzies and taking the time to enjoy the good things in life with those you care about. Sounds rather idyllic, doesn’t it?
My form of hygge is quite predictable – good food, good wine, good company. All quite achievable anywhere in the world, but I think we all have to experience hygge at least once in the place where it all began: Denmark. Winter is undoubtedly prime-hygge-time but after our unseasonably warm autumn weekend in Copenhagen, I’m convinced that the Danes embrace it all year round and that food plays a big part in the culture.
Eating out in this city can be pricey but it’s less painful when the food is worth the expense. There are Michelin star restaurants galore, but if you aren’t organised enough to make a booking or don’t want to live off beans on toast after your visit, here’s where you should go instead…
Copenhagen’s legendary food market is actually quite upmarket with a wide range of artisan producers providing everything a well-stocked pantry would need. I could, and possibly did, spend hours wandering round, imagining what my weekly shop would consist of if I was a local… before my hunger set in and I forced a certain someone to queue for the well-known Hallernes Smørrebrød. These open sandwiches consist of a myriad of incredible combinations perfectly stacked on top of a slice of rye – we tried ones with potatoes, salmon, egg and herring, and beef tartare!
Copenhagen Street Food on Paper Island
This streetfood market is the first of its kind in the city and is a hugely popular spot to find a cheap and cheerful bite to eat. There are almost 40 food and drink stalls located in the warehouse, offering all your typical streetfood fare from around the world. After perusing all the stalls, we decided to give the Moroccan flatbreads and Korean bibimbaps a miss and opt for some classic hotdogs and burgers, and a seat outside with a view across the harbour.
Kødbyens Fiskebar, Vesterbro
It seems ironic to have a seafood restaurant in the Meatpacking District, but these days the area is more synonymous with trendy restaurants and bars than fresh meat, so I guess Kødbyens Fiskebar fits right in. The menu is a mix of hot and cold dishes which suited us perfectly; we started with raw dishes of trout tartare and bleak roe, before moving onto the seared mullet fillet and scallops, and ending on a sweet note. The freshness of the seafood was evident, and the presentation was impeccable, but the final cherry on top of the experience? A quick tour of the kitchen and chat to the chefs!
Restaurant Pony, Vesterbro
This little restaurant deserves to be recognised as so much more than just the ‘little brother’ of Michelin star Kadeau; it may be more casual but no less competent in dishing up New Nordic cuisine. We liked the succinct, seasonal menu, but decided to leave our fate in the hands of the chefs and choose the four course ‘Pony Kick’. We had both expected the pork belly to be the star of the savoury dishes but it was ever so slightly outshone by the veal tongue. The thin slices were lightly seared and the saltiness offset perfectly by the corn puree and crunchy kernels. The blueberry dessert was also understated but quite a spectacular array of flavours, textures and temperatures. Every dish was generous and impeccably executed; from our front row seats we could see that this was a slick operation especially considering the size of the kitchen!
There are two reasons to visit Manfreds – the beef tartare and their equally infamous vegecentric tasting menu. You can of course order a la carte, but we went with the easy option – the chef’s choice of 7 small sharing plates and an extra portion of the tartare. The latter is a good rendition but quite different to what we’re used to; it comes in a heaped, nonchalant pile, there’s no egg, only mayonnaise, the accompanying bread is crumbed and stirred through, and there’s a lot of cress. The small plates were a fuss-free knockout; refreshing strips of crisp courgette, the most flavoursome gazpacho, and the best corn dish I have ever eaten – it looks a mess but it was creamy, sweet, rich and ever so addictive. We would happily return for a delicious dose of our five a day!
So Make a Move…
Throughout our dining escapades in Copenhagen, I was constantly blown away by the quality of the produce and the care taken with the dishes presented to us. Everything on the plate had a purpose, any manipulation was done to get the best of out of it – their approach to food was one which we liked. In between bites there’s plenty to see in the city; enough for you to walk off the last meal and get ready for the next!
- Check into the Tivoli Hotel & Congress Centre – we left it a little late when booking our accommodation but were pleased to come across this clean, modern hotel with lovely rooms, comfy beds and a short walk from the Meatpacking District.
- Climb some towers – the Round Tower has a nice view of the city with an interesting art exhibition about halfway up, however the best view is from the top of the Church of Our Saviour. The final stretch to the top of the tower is an external staircase so definitely not one for the faint hearted!
- Wander through the Botanical Gardens – make sure you climb the old spiral staircases for a view from the top of the Old Glasshouse.
- Visit Alternative Christiania – this community is a stark contrast to the rest of the city and is well-known for hash dealing.
- Stroll down Nyhavn – there are plenty of bars and restaurants in the area, though they all seem a little tacky, so perhaps just come for that cliched but necessary photo of the postcard perfect colourful houses.
- Tivoli Gardens & The Little Mermaid – one comes highly recommended, the other doesn’t and to be honest, we weren’t interested in either but it’s up to you!
Have you been to Copenhagen? What did you think of the dining scene?
And how do you intend to hygge this winter?