10 Oster Farimagsgade
Tel: 45 3555 3344
Aamanns has made such an impact with its updated take on the Danish smørrebrød tradition that it has become something of a standard-bearer; a New York outpost is expected to open in late 2012. Why the big splash? It's partly to do with the way the restaurant redefines the venerable smørrebrød. In the Aamann's airy dining room, located just behind the National Art Museum, you don't get the usual snaking list of sandwiches. The kitchen decides which trio of sandwiches you will be served that day, plated together, and each is perfectly composed, restrained by Danish standards, and a two-bite wonder (especially the frequently recurring free-range-chicken salad). But the menu veers off into a full selection of small plates, for both lunch and dinner, that range from sugar-salted salmon with cauliflower purée to breast of pork braised with apples, honey, and walnuts. If you are still hungry, there is a take-out with a few tables next door where you can get a wider selection of smørrebrød choices boxed to bring back to your hotel for one of the world's best midnight snacks.—Raphael Kadushin
Open Wednesdays through Saturdays 12 pm to 4 pm and 6 pm to 11 pm.
Tel: 45 33 25 10 66
This young restaurant and its equally young chefs—Rune Jochumsen and Kristian Møller—snatched up a Michelin star surprisingly fast in 2004. The subterranean stone dining room in Frederiksborg resembles a mausoleum and the adamantly stiff kitchen want to put the "a" back into Formel. Finding their passion in restrained, French-accented classicism and the most aristocratic Danish ingredients, Jochumsen and Møller may jump from langoustines with crunchy baby vegetables to a French pigeon breast anointed with foie gras and black truffles. For the blow-the-pension six-course menu, they seem determined to slip foie gras into every other dish, but when the result is their classic brill paired with ethereal foie gras ravioli, the tab becomes an afterthought.
8 Kongens Nytorv
Tel: 45 3313 3713
An almost daringly decadent statement in pared-down Copenhagen, Geist brings sexy back to central city dining. Geist's dining room has a long bar, a low-lit dining room filled with curving gray banquettes, and a young, clubby crowd. Chef Bo Bech's rich plates are zealously sourced (of course), and combine a Danish rustic approach with a global twist. The result: a dish of two perfectly roasted carrots framed by tender lobster; a turbot crowned with coins of fennel-stuffed ravioli; and a banana sorbet that distills the essence of the fruit. A big bowl of cotton candy comes out for the finale, proof that you can still find sheer whimsy in a town that takes its food very seriously.—Raphael Kadushin
Open daily 6 pm to 1 am.
Tel: 45 35 35 75 55
Trailing a serious pedigree, including a stint at the Michelin-starred restaurant The Paul and a four-year stay in Bangkok, chef and owner Henrik Yde determined that his own kitchen would showcase the purity of sour, salty, and sweet flavors that intermingle in Thai coconut soup. Forget, in other words, your standard red curry and rice. Fittingly, Kiin Kiin's double-decker dining room sits in the middle of the multicultural, if increasingly trendy, Nørrebro neighborhood. The ground-floor loungethe place to pop homemade pork skins and fried lotus rootsis fitted with the Panta Group's bamboo-andwater hyacinth Noodle Chairs. Upstairs in the dining room, gold-leaf Buddhas watch over the service of Yde's six-course tasting menu. Yde strikes every signature note of Thai cookingfrom the tart splash of lemongrass and lime juice on scallops and shrimp, to the sour complexity of the soy, ginger, and garlic dressing on his toss of chicken and cashews. Denmark, though, never gets lost in the mix: Seafood dishes rely on the North Sea daily catch, and the lemongrass and baby corn are grown by a Danish farmer just 50 miles outside of Copenhagen.
Tel: 45 33 14 46 46
Sitting just off the busy Strøget pedestrian street but inhabiting a hushed, quaint parallel universe, this venerable tearoom and cake shop is the epitome of Danish hygge (which translates loosely as coziness). Its window displaymaybe the most photographed attraction in Copenhagen, next to the Little Mermaidstops foot traffic, and the marble-topped tables inside are occupied by grandmothers treating their saucer-eyed grandchildren. Start the sugar rush with wienerbrød (Americans know it as a Danish), a buttery pastry that's so flaky it makes every other Danish look like a spongy loofah. Many of the cakes are named after great Danes: The Karen Blixen (a.k.a. Isak Dinesen) is a caffeinated gothic tale in itself, told in layers of chocolate sponge, mocha truffle, roasted hazelnuts, and coffee mousse; the H.C. Andersen cake mixes lemon mousse and raspberry butter for an apt approximation of the writer's sweet-and-sour, lovelorn life. The popular sports cake is piled so high with whipped cream it looks like foam night in Ibiza.
Closed Sundays from Easter through September; open daily the rest of the year.
66 Store Kongensgade
Tel: 45 33 32 32 34
By forgoing hipster aspirations and blasting music for a very Danish mix of unaffected stylishness and coziness, this bistro near Amalienborg Palace has become like a second living room for neighborhood regulars. The talented kitchen serves up new Danish cuisine, but never takes itself too seriously (no dehydrated lingonberries, in other words). And while the black-and-white interior isn't extravagant, neither are the prices: For $35, you could tuck into cured Norwegian salmon dressed in frothy lemon mayo, minced veal and pork meatloaf bundled in bacon, and a bowl of garden-fresh plums with vanilla ice cream. If the perennially crowded restaurant is booked, stroll to the Christiansborg neighborhood and try sister kitchen Den Anden—the name translates, with Madklubben's characteristic directness, to The Second One. Now though, as branches of the restaurant pop up all over town, you can even find a Madklubben in Tivoli.
Open 5:30 pm to midnight Mondays through Saturdays.
Tel: 45 3696 6593
The very model of the second-wave, post-Noma food scene in northern Copenhagen, Manfreds sits on Jaegersborggade, which has become the bobo culinary ground zero. It is owned by ubiquitous Noma veteran Christian Puglisi, who also owns the vaunted Relae just across the street. You enter past a big white tiled open kitchen to a cluttered room filled with scattered tables, a wine cellar lit by a revolving disco ball, and a packed mob of the neighborhood's artiest denizens. The small bargain-priced plates, focusing on the local fashion for veg-centric dishes, include a downright juicy dish of roasted carrots and a salad of barley and pickled onions. Among the concessions to carnivores is a fantastic ox tartare. If the place is too crowded to score a table, make like a townie and get your order to go. This may be the only place in the world where your take-out order, bundled up in a brown paper bag, is likely to include kale with smoked marrow and walnuts.—Raphael Kadushin
Open Tuesdays through Fridays 12 pm to 10 pm, Saturdays and Sundays 10 am to 10 pm.
Tel: 45 3391 0101
Sitting very pretty on a narrow cobblestone street near the harbor, Marv & Ben (Marrow & Bone) is one cozy haven. The warren of rooms spread out through the historic building exude a dressed-down charm; a mural of painted birch trees frames the ground-floor dining room, and the largest second-floor room is all glowing apricot walls and blond-wood tables. The eclectic local crowd comes for the bargain prices, a very cheerful staff, and a menu that knows how to have easygoing fun with its locally sourced ingredients. Among standout signature dishes: smoked eel laid over leeks in a sweet cherry reduction sauce; pork cheeks with green cabbage; and a creamy lemon mousse.—Raphael Kadushin
Open Mondays through Saturdays 6 pm to 10 pm.
Tel: 45 32 96 32 97
For many purists, the artistry and soul of contemporary Danish cooking begins and ends with Noma, considered one of the best restaurants in the world. Chef René Redzepi, who trained at those twin peaks of contemporary dining, French Laundry and El Bulli, painstakingly forages the complete Nordic harvest, from golden sea buckthorn to woodruff. He might pair Greenland shrimp with crisped potato skins, dill, and buttermilk powder; serve Danish Jersey beef flank with caramelized apple and sliced Gotland beets; or scoop an entire ecosystem onto a dessert plate by matching up local sheep's-milk mousse with an emerald-green granita composed of the garden sorrel those sheep grazed on. In his hands, something as homely as the rye kernel can look as gorgeous as a Perigord truffle. The setting itself—a converted historic warehouse beside the harbor that once stored whale fat—is a study in Nordic pride, with exposed brick, a heavily beamed ceiling, and sheepskin throws blanketing the backs of the '60s Scand chairs.
Kongens Nytorv 16
Tel: 45 33 32 51 51
Constantly packed with everyone from art students to investment bankers, Quote's buzzy success has less to do with its location, right on the central Kongens Nytorv, than with its stress on a perfected menu of global Danish brasserie food. The café and restaurant turn out a succession of glossy dishes, from sweet Nordic shrimp and scallops stuffed inside oversize ravioli purses to a grilled beef tournedos finally reunited with its sorely missed throwback, béarnaise sauce. Not that the requisite touches of Olsen drama are totally missing. Hanging above all those piled plates in the café are two epic-size crystal globes, simulating upscale disco balls, and in the restaurant proper, Venetian glass chandeliers add a pastel, baroque shimmer to the standard-issue Danish modern decor.
Copenhagen's Noma was recently ranked the world's best restaurantso it's no wonder that the city's hottest table is the brainchild of Noma expats. Just over a year ago, Christian Puglisi and Kim Rossen left their posts as sous-chef and waiter, respectively, at René Redzepi's acclaimed restaurant to open Relæ. Expect rigorously seasonal pared-down dishes like broccoli with parsley puree or veal hearts with pepper sauce, fare that admirer Iniki Aizpitarte describes as "both frank and singular. Relæ has a real culinary culture, a true cuisine d'auteur that is dynamic like Puglisi's personality" (prix fixe, $60).
Must eat: Pickled mackerel with shaved cauliflower and lemon peel puree.
1 Frederiksberg Runddel
Tel: 45 38 34 84 36
A collaboration of Danish artists, light and textile designers, acoustic experts, and scenographers turned this 18th-century pavilion in the Frederiksberg royal gardens into a nature diorama that's as much art installation as restaurant. Insects and wildflowers decorate woven wall hangings, color-changing crystals hung from the ceiling simulate the passage of the sun, and a playlist of thunder and chirping birds blends with chatter from the fashion mavens who dine here. Chefs Jakob Mielcke Hansen and Jan Hurtigkarl add their own naturalist ode with a prix fixe menu. We sampled wild duck served two ways (over rhubarb compote and paired with turnips and chanterelle mushrooms), but the menu perpetually evolves with the chef's whims. Hansen and Hurtigkarl close the restaurant from January through March to give themselves time for "inspirational culinary traveling."
Open Wednesdays through Sundays noon to 4 pm and 6 to 10 pm, April through September; Thursdays through Saturdays 6 to 10 pm, October through December.
Smørrebrød translates as "open-face sandwich," but once you have piled shrimp on top of crayfish and crowned it with caviar, it hardly deserves such a homely name. Typical Danish attention to detail and aesthetics have made this farmhouse fare the country's signature dishand it's still the only lunch many natives will eat. Slotskælderen Hos Gitte Kik is a timeless model of a smørrebrød restaurant. Just across the canal from Christiansborg Palace, it resembles a country cottage with buttery-yellow stucco walls hung with photos of turn-of-the-century local wrestlers. All of the daily sandwiches line a long wooden buffet table so you can choose: Local favorites include a creamy liver pâté topped with crisp bacon, and classic smoked eel and buttery scrambled eggs (Fortunstraede 11 4; 45-33-11-15-37; lunch only; closed Sundays, Mondays, and all of July). More touristy but just as delectable is Ida Davidsen. Each day, Ida herself pops up behind her display of sandwiches with a signature toque riding high on her perennially blond waves. Her best concoctions include the Alexandra, a pile of raw salmon, salmon roe, six crayfish tails, andbecause a sandwich can never be too rich or too fatthe final flourish of a dill sprig, and OK, some more roe. For the brave there's Cook's Midnight Snack, a melee of salami, mayo, grated radish, chives, smoked cheese, and black-currant jam (Store Kongensgade 70; 45-33-91-36-55; www.idadavidsen.dk). Not enough? If the sun is shining, head to Nyhavns Faergekro for smørrebrød alfresco at tables along the Nyhavn inlet, or duck inside for the most extreme of Nordic feasts: a smorgasbord of ten different herring preparations (Nyhavn 5; 45-33-15-15-88; www.nyhavnsfaergekro.dk).