Forget swanky Michelin-starred restaurants, says Emma Dance. In Copenhagen it’s all about the hot dogs (and as a foodie blogger, she’d know!).
This was no ordinary hotdog. This was a Copenhagen Polser – the Danish street food speciality. Forget foraging or the new Nordic cuisine made famous by Noma – in Copenhagen, the hotdog is what it’s all about. When you’re asked ‘With everything?’ the only acceptable answer is ‘Yes.’ Say no and you’ll be missing out on something special.
The sausage had almost drowned in the deluge of condiments. Just the pink ends, poking out from either end of the bun, served as reminder that there was some meat in there somewhere. Piled on top of the slippery mixture of ketchup, mustard and wonderfully tangy remoulade were raw onions, crispy fried onions and slivers of pickles. It was a delicate balancing act – one wrong bite and the whole thing could end in disaster with the contents toppling into a puddle on the floor, or maybe worse: all over me. However it was a challenge I was willing to face, and fortunately it ended without mishap. If I’m going to eat fast food then I want it to always taste that good.
If street food can be that delicious then perhaps it is not surprising that Copenhagen is making a name for itself in the culinary world. Voted the world’s best restaurant three years in a row, Noma is at the forefront of a foodie movement which has sprung up in recent years championing the use of local, sustainable food. And now there are a plethora of restaurants, some with Michelin stars, others hoping to get lucky next time round, all vying for attention. And they seem to be getting it.
Even though Copenhagen is considerably pricier than some of its European counterparts getting a dinner reservation at any of the restaurants du jour with less than a week or two’s notice can be something of a challenge. Fiskebaren however, a fish restaurant in the fashionable meatpacking district, keeps seats at the bar next to a large tank of jellyfish for walk-ins. And because the menu is divided into plates of different sizes even if you’re on a tight budget you can sample locally caught seafood, wonderfully prepared, for around £10. It might not fill you up, but then that’s an excuse to stop at a bakery for an indulgent sweet treat afterwards.
The restaurant with the best view of the city is undoubtedly the Alberto K on the 20th floor of the Radisson Blu Royal. From here you can look out over the Tivoli Gardens and beyond, with even Sweden visible on a clear day. But it’s not just the restaurant that’s an attraction of the Royal. The whole hotel, including the interior, was designed by famed architect Arne Jacobsen and still all the furnishings, right down to the cutlery are his design. There’s even a room which has been kept with all the original 1960s furnishings, right down to the ashtray and the piping on the curtains. Even if you can’t get a reservation for dinner, the lobby bar is worth a visit. There you can sit in a Jacobsen-designed chair and sample a cocktail named after the man himself.
If you want a real taste of Scandinavia then you can’t go wrong with the all-you-can eat herring buffet at Nyhavns Faergekro. As well as 10 types of herring they also have their own aquavit infused with different flavours according to the season. In the winter the inside is cosy, but on a warmer day you sit outside and enjoy the view of the canal and the brightly coloured building that run alongside it.
There’s no shortage of places to eat and drink in Copenhagen, but accolades aside, the real star for me will always be the hotdog. Maybe it was just something about its comforting, fatty warmth on a chilly Scandinavian winter’s day, but then and there, there was nothing else I’d have rather eaten.
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