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The concept of “new Nordic cuisine” might be foreign to you. It might also be friendly. But as we recently found during a visit to Copenhagen, the epicenter of the movement and home to the world’s best restaurant Noma, the term is slightly irrelevant when eating and drinking around the town. 

The concept of “new Nordic cuisine” might be foreign to you. It might also be friendly. But as I recently found during a visit to Copenhagen, the epicenter of the movement and home to Noma, the world’s best restaurant, the term is slightly irrelevant when eating and drinking around the town. Sure, I spotted seaweed on menus a little more than usual. But the cooking (and drinking) was less about a movement than about excellence. You see, the Danes simply do things right, including running a very nice selection of world class restaurants and bars worth the long plane ride themselves. Here are some of my favorite Copenhagen restaurants not called Noma.

Marv & Ben
The name here doesn’t tip to a hidden Jewish deli amongst the smørrebrød sellers, but the Danish translation for “marrow and bone” — run by René Redzepi protégé Frederik Hvidt, who will likely be cooking in the restaurant’s tight street-level kitchen. A roomier second floor is available as well. Meals are broken into 2-5 course tastings, with playful names like Something With Salmon (aquavit-cured salmon with cauliflower and lovage) and Marine and Country (catfish, mashed potatoes, seaweed, a lot of butter). Wine pairings are decidedly French, and decidedly excellent. Snaregade 4, 1205 marvogben.dk

Restaurant Relæ
While many of the top restaurants in Copenhagen stick with a polished European sensibility — captain service, long tasting menus and so on — Relæ stands out for its casualness without compromising. A tour of chef Christian Puglisi’s nearby test kitchen in the hip Nørrebro neighborhood makes me think that Noma better watch their back. Ambition continues with the 4-course tasting, starting with a wonderfully gamey lamb tartare, aged for five days, served with cured baby shrimp and a nice amount of dill. A course of potato “snow” was potato reimagined as rice, and served with grated hazelnuts. A main course of veal sweatbreads (offal was a big theme during my time in the city) was brined and cooked sous-vide with basil and cauliflower. And all with paper napkins and a wonderfully low-fi record player crackling in the background. Jægersborggade 41 2200 restaurant-relae.dk

Nimb Louise
Nimb Hotel is one hell of a fine hotel located in Tivoli Gardens. Nimb Louise is the hotel’s best restaurant, recently taken over by the talented young chef Allan Poulsen — formerly of Henne Kirkeby Kro on the country’s western coast. His cooking brings you the best of the new Nordic impulses — extremely fresh local products, naturalistic presentations, not a lot of salt (in a good way). Think razor clams with white carrots in a buttermilk cream stock and veal sweetbreads cooked with pork skin.  Bernstorffsgade 5  1577 tivoli.dk/nimb

Torvehallerne Market
Last September Torvehallerne opened as two symmetrical buildings in a cobblestone square called Israels Plads. The structures now house over 80 food vendors selling a wide variety of culinary treasures: fresh pints of raspberries and pressed pomegranate juice, smoked salmon and langoustines the size of lobsters. A beer stand peddles quirky Danish brews and vinegars. Many of the city’s top culinary shops opened with stalls including cult Italian bakery Il Fornaio and the city’s world-regarded coffee bar and roaster, Coffee Collective. It is there where I found my fix; a perfect little cortado made on a Kees Ven Der Westen espresso machine and a nutty, slightly acidic cup of house-roasted Ethiopian brew, which was of course served pour-over style using the latest Japanese ceramic drip cone. You can read more about the market here. Frederiksborggade 21  1360 torvehallernekbh.dk

Ibsens Hotel
Here’s a boutique hotel that knows just how to please a jet-lagged tourist after an overnight flight. Sure, they provide hot showers in their clean, well-designed quarters. But the reason to stay at Ibsens — or stop by before noon — is a wonderful breakfast buffet. It’s the essence of Denmark laid out across multiple tables: rows of smoked fish sandwiches wrapped in paper, muesli and jam, cups of yogurt over ice, four kinds of fruit juice and, of course, great coffee. Vendersgade 23 ibsenshotel.dk

The Barking Dog
Found this place while waking down Sankt Hans Gade in the cool Nørrebro neighborhood. I wasn’t in the mood for a drink at all, but after checking out the drink list written by London-trained owner Carl Wrangel, I had a barrel-aged Titanic Negroni in my hand in no time. (I was also tasting Krabask bitter and a homemade gin from Wrangel in no time as well). Wrangel’s list is an impressive mix of classics (Florida, Bellini), as well as fun plays like rum and Ting and a Hipster Club that “a fruity sour that changes in flavor according to what is in style.” The Barking Dog. Write it down and visit early and often.  Sankt Hans Gade 19 thebarkingdog.dk    

Mikkeller Bar
This bar is run by the acclaimed gypsy brewer Mikkel Borg Bjergsø and a must for hop-heads looking for a taste of something a little different (a beer called Beer Geek Breakfast is sometimes available, as is Draft Beer in a bottle). The space can get crowded late at night. But, a great way to meet some beer geek Danes. Viktoriagade 8 1655 mikkeller.dk

Ruby
This is one of the original cocktail bars in the city, tucked away behind an unmarked doorway below the Danish embassy for the Republic of Georgia. The room is decked out like the ambassador’s living room — with rugs and cozy sofas for seating. But it’s the drinks you will travel here for, a mix of classics and big ideas from the seasoned bartending crew. Nybrogade 10 rby.dk

Madam Chu’s
Around the corner from Ruby, Madam Chu is a new bar with an eye of China and San Fran in terms of design (black walls and red lanterns). The drinks too point to an East-meets-West vibe, with ingredients like ruby port, ginger juice and yuzu making appearancea. The jury is still out if this place can rival its well-established neighbors. Gammel strand 40 1202 København madamchu.dk

K Bar
The K in the name stands for owner Kirsten Holm, a woman responsibly for single-handedly bringing world-class cocktails to the city when she opened her bar a decade ago. She was mixing lychee martinis before they were cool, then uncool. Today, Holm will gladly pour you something new from her revolving list, or one of the mojitos she introduced to the city. The vibe is cozy. But not too, with a cool clientele sipping drinks and planning the rest of the night. Ved Stranden 20 k-bar.dk


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