I recently spent a few days in Copenhagen. I was motivated to visit this beautiful city for the first time by something I have heard for the last couple of years – that Copenhagen has become a serious food destination, with many superb, forward-thinking restaurants. Indeed, the San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants (http://www.theworlds50best.com/) has named René Redzepi’s Noma the best restaurant in the world for the last three years. A few months ago, I scored a nearly impossible Noma reservation for September 6th, and I was able to incorporate a visit to Copenhagen on my way to Egypt. My friend Mark joined me on this trip and we ate a lot of good food and had a lot of laughs.
Copenhagen has about a dozen or so Michelin starred restaurants, and I made a number of reservations. I owe much to Trine Lai, who writes a fantastic food blog, http://verygoodfood.dk/, which gave me all the information I needed about the Copenhagen food scene. Trine is a very talented blogger and photographer and also is very gracious. The reality of timing led me to edit our selection to three restaurants: Manfreds & Vin for lunch and Kiin Kiin for dinner on Wednesday, Sept. 5th and Noma for lunch on Thursday, Sept. 6th. In between we did a lot of fun touristy sight-seeing in this great city.
Manfreds & Vin (reservations recommended for dinner and lunch)Manfreds was one of Trine’s recommendations, and I love it. It’s on an artsy street lined with little studios and shops. This restaurant, popular with locals, is the younger cousin of the Michelin-starred Relae, which is across the street. The restaurant offers high-quality Danish fare made from locally sourced products and features natural wines – wines that are created organically and are non-sulfured and have no added sugars or other preservatives. I hadn’t tried such wines before. I am not a wine expert and often am hard pressed to discern the scents that experts talk about with respect to wines. But I was definitely able to detect strong fruit notes in these natural wines, and they were bright, refreshing, and delightful. Manfreds has a “Parisian-style” lunch set menu, which consists of several vegetable dishes, a soup, and a meat dish – all the chef’s choice. The dishes are meant to be shared. Our particular menu included an eggplant dish, green cauliflower with dill caper and anchovy vinaigrette, baby potatoes and crème fraiche with pork cracklings, pumpkin soup with spicy infused butter, and roast lamb. We ordered the accompanying wine menu of three different glasses of wine to go with lunch. The space was inviting and homey. I loved this place and would return again and again if I lived in Copenhagen.
Kiin Kiin (dinner only; reservations essential)
Kiin Kiin is a Thai restaurant like no other – the first and only Thai restaurant to receive a Michelin star. The food and the experience are amazing. They have a short seating for pre-theatre (with a smaller menu) and then one seating for dinner – so reservations are essential. It's not far from Manfreds, in an artsy area that the owner told us he reclaimed from a crackhouse a few years ago. We entered the restaurant into a beautiful Asian-themed lounge which is a few steps below the sidewalk. We were taken to comfy chairs, where the experience began with assorted pre-dinner snacks (and a glass of champagne which we ordered). Our host explained the set menu and asked whether we’d be ordering the set wine menu to accompany dinner, which we did. A short time later, we were escorted upstairs to the dining room, where the meal began with a series of seriously inventive and delicious haute Thai cuisine dishes. I’ve pasted the menu from the restaurant web site below. The restaurant’s co-founder, Henrik Yde-Andersen, is an extremely likeable and gracious host, and we really enjoyed speaking with him about his restaurants. Dinner lasted about 3 ½ hours – with many dishes and delicious wines. This is a place not to be missed if you’re visiting Copenhagen.
Noma (lunch and dinner; reservations are essential -- see the restaurant's web site for instructions)
Our final foodie stop was lunch at Noma, a temple to gastronomy and an experience like no other. Our reservation was for noon, which is the beginning time for lunch, and over the next 4+ hours we were part of a group of about 30 patrons who enjoyed the creations of René Redzepi – amazing lightness and beauty – dishes of food formed, sculpted, painted, created. This is Nordic cuisine reimagined, using locally grown and foraged food. All in all, about 20 courses came, with 8 different wines to accompany them. The chefs and wait staff are incredibly gracious and good humored. The room, the scene of such seriously artistic food, was lively and fun, with much laughter filling the space. It is beyond my photography skills to photograph the dishes to do them justice. You can check out Trine’s web site or google Noma or look it up on youtube for videos. I did snap a couple of pictures of the space during our lunch – a rustic and beautiful decor with plenty of space and light. An experience I'll always remember.