Hip, gritty Vesterbrø – once Copenhagen’s meatpacking district with more butchers per square metre than anywhere else in Europe -- is fast evolving as the city’s hub for unconventional bars and post-industrial hygge (the all-encompassing Danish term for anything cosy).
is also an epicentre for affordable, New Nordic cuisine, where simple,
authentic ingredients are creatively served to enhance their naturally vibrant flavours.
In a clear indicator of Vesterbrø’s growing culinary trendiness, this formerly
insalubrious neighbourhood west of Central Station is now where many of the
staff from Noma hang out when they are not
working at the restaurant crowned best in
the world two years in a row.
Kødbyens Fiskebar (which translates to
Meat Market Fish Bar) was one of the pioneers in the district, set up by former
Noma sommelier Anders Selmer in 2010. Located within an austere former meatpacking
store, the restaurant has a rough-hewn chic interior and a dramatic cylinder-shaped
aquarium in the centre that doubles as a raw bar, with stools around its
diameter. The menu offers some of the Danish capital’s best seafood: must-order
small dishes (which are great to share) include Limfjorden oysters, North Sea
razor clams with fennel, parsley, dill and garlic cream, and bleak roe with red
onions, sour cream and pea shoots.
Outstanding among the main dish offerings is the quintessentially New
Nordic smoked cod roe with pickled vegetables. The sweet, salty and smoky flavours
mingle expressively. Pair your meal with a Danish white wine from Lilleø island
in southern Denmark. Selmer created the crisp blend
of sauvignon blanc, riesling, silvaner and solaris grape
varietals, naming it “Arwen” after the daughter of Rene Redzepi, chef and
co-owner of Noma.
the newest arrivals is Madsvinet, which
opened this spring. It is located by
Enghaven Park and was converted from a former butcher's shop, adding an open
grill, masses of local art and candlelit tables to the shop’s original tiles
and meat hooks (now adjusted for hanging coats). Madsvinet's rustic gourmet menu includes
sharing platters such as local cheeses, salt-baked celery, quinoa and pickled
mushrooms, ceviche of Gotland scallop, zander with beetroot, hazelnuts and broccoli,
and grilled calf with blackberries, lime and liquorice.
New Nordic ethos of changing menus to reflect the seasonal local landscape is
evident at a number of keenly priced restaurants in the area, many of which
have opened in the past year.
Overseen by Bocuse
d'Or winner Rasmus Kofoed and chef Nicolai Nørregaard , Kadeau
Copenhagen is the sister restaurant to the equally
cosy Kadeau Bornholm, located
on Bornholm, a Danish island south of Copenhagen in the Baltic Sea. Kadeau
Copenhagen showcases several specialities from Kadeau Bornholm, including fried
herring served with porridge oats, kale, apples and malt, octopus and oyster
partnered modishly with celery, Jerusalem artichokes, dill and cucumber, and an
earthy rustic dish of sweetbreads with cauliflower, black trumpet mushrooms,
brown butter and rowanberries.
and sustainable are the defining mantras at airy, minimalist canteen Bio Mio, housed in a converted Bosch warehouse dating back to 1920.
Bio Mio's ethos is impeccably thought through in carefully sourced dishes such
as smoked halibut and roasted vegetables with horseradish cream, and balsamic
baked beetroot with homemade taro chips. Nostalgia can be as cool as modernity
in Vesterbrø, which is, after all, a heritage neighbourhood, where the
traditional architecture has been preserved. Food writer Trine Hahneman's favourite
lunch spot is Dyrehaven, a classic
eatery that has been revitalised by its new owners but retains its original
wooden bar. Here, the menu focuses on
rustic smørrebrød (open sandwiches usually on rye bread with garnishes
such as pickled herring, pork with sweet and sour red cabbage, and smoked
salmon with shrimp, and there is a huge terrace for sitting outside in
thriving bar scene, which includes microbrewery MikKeller with at least 10 of its own rich,
malty brews on tap, is all the more appealing for its unconventionality. A former pharmacy is home to Bang & Jensen,
pleasingly kitsch collection of
mismatched sofas and lamps. Breakfast
is served until 6 pm alongside cocktails, pinball machines and football
tables. More unusual still, and entirely
fitting for the district, is Butcher's Lab (Vaernedamsveg 16; 453-322-3089),
which combines a bar and a gym.
Karriere is a
seminal bar conceived by Danish artist Jeppe Hein that is also an art
collection. The bar (which serves cocktails based on local herbs) literally rocks
gently from side to side, the bathrooms are like a labyrinth with 25 doors and
only five toilets, and the prism-like lighting is by artist Olafur Eliasson
(who constructed the controversial Weather
Project: a dramatic artificial sun in the Turbine Hall of London’s
Tate Modern that provoked questions about why we universally talk so much about
the weather). It is a reminder that although Vesterbrø may now be a relatively
spruced up version of its former self, it is still an area that is willing to provoke