Kong Hans Kælder – classic French at its finest

When it comes to culinary institutions in Copenhagen, one cannot get round Kong Hans Kælder. It was one of the first restaurants in Denmark to introduce high quality produce and French haute cuisine to the Danes back in 1976 when the Grønlykke family opened the restaurant in an old royal basement in the center of the city. Since 1976, the restaurant has only had four different head chefs, which says a lot about the stability at this historical place.

Kong Hans Kælder was the first restaurant on Denmark to receive a Michelin star. It happened in 1983, two years after the arrival of the French head chef Daniel Letz. After Letz, Thomas Rode Andersen took over, and he maintained the star until he decided to move on to new projects in 2014. When that happened, Michelin took away the star and the new head chef, Mark Lundgaard, got the chance to start all over again.

He decided to take Kong Hans Kælder back to the very roots of French cooking and in 2016, it was acknowledged by the French “red bible”, which awarded the restaurant a star once again.

Refined simplicity
While many chefs are capable of decorating mediocre food with bunches of herbs and flowers, very few have the skills to reduce and simplify their dishes to the point where they almost look naked. Mark Lundgaard is one of these chefs. He is not afraid of serving dishes consisting of only three components. It could be the whole roasted pigeon with a spoonful of celeriac puree and cherries. It doesn’t look like much but what you don’t see in all the Instagram pictures is all the work made before the dish enters the table. Lundgaard uses only the finest ingredients and he cooks them to perfection with love and care. This is easy to tell when you taste the dishes. The pigeon breast, juicy and flavorful thanks to the cooking on the bone, had the intense notes of wild bird and combined with the cherries it tasted like the purest forest floor.

It is not cheap to eat at Kong Hans Kælder but when you look at the value you get, there is nothing to complain about. Kong Hans Kælder is build around luxurious produce like caviar, foie gras and truffles and they all come in remarkable amounts. While you sip your Champagne and decide what to eat, a great selection of appetizers are placed on the table. I adored the vol-au-vent with pork and truffle, a lovely tartlet with foie gras au torchon, truffle and raisin gel and the waffle with creme fraiche, tartar and caviar.

A selection of the snacks at Kong Hans. Photo: Rasmus Palsgård.

The amuse served in an egg shaped bowl filled with Comté foam, brown butter and truffle with a true milk far party taking place in my mouth – so good!

The menu took off with a perfectly cooked piece of lemon sole served with young leeks, mushroom puree, caviar and a creamy sauce based on fish stock. Again, nothing fancy about the presentation but the flavours were amazing and completely balanced.

Lemon sole with leeks, mushrooms and caviar. Photo: Rasmus Palsgård

Other breathtaking dish was the scallop en croute. I scallop was opened, cut into slices and returned to its shell with slices of truffle in-between. The shell was closed with puff pastry in order for the scallop to keep all its juices inside. Table side, the shell was opened releasing all the beautiful aromas of scallop and truffle. A bit of black pepper and an intense truffle sauce et voila!

Scallop and truffle. Photo: Rasmus Palsgård.

The tourte, a dome of puff pastry filled with minced veal and foie gras and served with a curry-infused sauce salmis, was another masterpiece with its juicy inner, pungent sauce and buttery and flaky exterior of pastry. It was served with a 1997 Clos du Marquis som St. Julien in Bordeaux, one of the most beautiful Bordeauxs I’ve had for a while showing all the complexity and velvety tannins that these wines have become famous for.
Restaurant Manager Peter Pepke is in charge of the restaurant as well as the wine cellar and he is managing both very convincingly. The 1997 Clos du Marquis was a part of the wine pairing and compared to the average wine pairing, I really appreciate that Pepke is doing a great effort to find wines with age.

Tourte and Clos du Marquis 1997. Photo: Rasmus Palsgård.

A final of sweet dreams
Do not skip the desserts at Kong Hans. They are handled with as much care as the savory dishes, once again being true to the classic French traditions. Baba au rhum, a yeast cake soaked in rum, can be a hard dessert to handle because the alcohol quickly tends to overwhelm the other flavors. The version at Kong Hans was just right, and the buttery cake with sweet notes of rum worked perfectly with the fluffy, vanilla rich creme chantilly.

Baba au rhum a la Mark Lundgaard. Photo: Rasmus Palsgård.

We finished off with a huge chocolate soufflé with a refreshing exotic sorbet with passion fruit and mango followed by coffee and petits fours. Kong Hans makes sure to make you full – both physically and sensorially.

Chocolate soufflé with an exotic sorbet. Photo: Rasmus Palsgård

Kong Hans Kælder
Vingaardsstræde 6
København K

+45 3311 6868
info@konghans.dk
Web

Ancestrale – amazing wine bar at Vesterbro

ancestrale

Vesterbro is certainly one of the most diverse areas in Copenhagen when it comes to restaurants. You’ll find anything from the finest kebabs to Michelin-starred food and everything in-between. Earlier this year, another little pearl was added to the pool. I’m referring to Ancestrale, a tiny wine bar located at Oehlenschlægersgade very close to Nimb.

ancestrale

Ancestrale has a very homely feel to it.

There are several reasons why I love this place. First of all, the three guys behind have had the wish to make the guests feel like if they were invited to a private get-together in their own living room. The result is a cosy room with wooden furniture and dimmed light giving a nice, calm atmosphere.

Then there’s the wine. The focus is on natural wines but not the most funky ones – there is something to satisfy every type of winelover. There is no winelist. Instead, you simply go to the wine “cellar” next door and point on the one you’d like. Obviously, if you have no clue, the guys are happy to help you find something you like.

Gut Oggau is one of the wineries represented at Ancestrale.

The third reason I like this place is the food. There are five dishes on the menu changing according to the season. They cost 95 kroner each, 375 for all of them. True to the wine bar spirit, the dishes are very simply yet incredibly tasty and satisfying. It could be the tender beetroots smothered in a heavily reduced beetroot juice accompanied by some goat fresh cheese and dill oil.

Beetroot and goat cheese.

I also loved the baked Jerusalem artichokes with pickled beech mushrooms and tarragon cream, which has the perfect balance between sweetness, acidity and richness – and lovely textures.

Jerusalem artichokes, pickled beech mushrooms and tarragon.

In other words: If you want to find a great wine bar that also serves amazing food, Ancestrale is where you should go. The staff is extremely friendly, service-minded at knowledgeable about their wines.

Ancestrale
Oehlenschlægersgade 12
1663 Copenhagen V
Website

 

Impressive performance by the new head chef at Studio

There a certainly job positions that are harder to succeed than others. I believe Damian Quintana will agree. A couple of months ago, he was announced as the new head chef at the one Michelin-starred restaurant Studio in Copenhagen. He was about to take over from Torsten Vildgaard, a living legend within the new Nordic cuisine. Torsten Vildgaard worked as the creative head chef at Noma for five years before he decided to go solo and open Studio in October 2013. Studio received a Michelin star already four months later and it has been maintained ever since.

Studio is located the The Standard along the waterside.

Therefore, it was quite a surprise when Vildgaard announced that he was leaving Studio to become a member of the Noma team once again. Who was about to take over as head chef at a restaurants that was even part-owned by Vildgaard himself?

Damian Quintana was the answer. The Chilean chef has worked for Torsten at Studio as well as other top establishments in Copenhagen but never as a head chef – could he handle the job? I needed to find out so I visited Studio in November.

Top service and comfort
The decor looks the same. The decor is still Nordic, yet warm, the tableware is still build around the beautiful plates and bowls made by K. H. Würtz ceramics and the service is still impeccable. It is run by Morten Magh, who to our joy has returned to Copenhagen after a couple of years in New York at Wine Director at the two Michelin-starred Atera. To my opinion, Morten Magh’s service is perfectly balanced between formal knowledge about the food and wine and a more informal, relaxed way of handling his guests. This combination makes you feel safe and relaxed from the very beginning.

Churros cooked in smoked bone marrow and filled with gruyere and topped with a mushroom puree and black truffle.

The menu (DKK 1,300) is consisting of a good handful of delicious, very precise appetizers and seven bigger courses and I’ll go straight to the conclusion: There was no low at any point of the meal – it just kept getting better and better, and I can easily say that the dinner at Studio went straight to my top five in 2017. I’ve eaten at one Michelin-starred restaurants that are not even close to the performance I experienced at Studio and if the inspectors have been doing their work properly, a second star should be within reach.

Damian Quintana has managed to create his own expression at Studio without loosing its original Nordic DNA. The flavors are still light, elegant and based on local produce but at the same time, Quintana is adding a bit of his South American heritage to the plate. The scallop dish was a perfect example. The large, hand-dived scallops from Norway were served raw with onion in a ceviche inspired version with a marinade of white currants, elderflowers, lemon grass and ginger giving the exotic twist; So fresh, sharp and elegant.

Scallop ceviche – devine!

Another one was the grilled duck heart served with a chumichurri of local herbs or the grilled Limfjord Oyster with potato and mussel sauce. Everything was thought through and made to perfection.

Grilled duck heart with chimichurri.

The very last dish, wasn’t very South American but indeed both challenging at utterly delicious. It consisted of porcini cream, porcini praline, porcini oil, spruce, roasted almond ice cream and 12 year old apple balsamico – wauw! The mushroom flavors certainly confused the brain at first but as we digged more into it, it just got better and better.

All in all, Studio is a very solid one-starred restaurant leaning very much towards two, and if you go to Copenhagen to do fine dining, do not miss this beautiful restaurant along the waterside of Copenhagen.

Studio
Havnegade 44
1058 København K

Restaurant MES – great value for money in Central Copenhagen

A great thing about the great fine dining scene in Copenhagen is that it has risen the interest for high level gastronomy among locals as well as foodies from abroad. The intensified interest from more and more guests to dine out more often has opened the doors for the mid-range restaurants in the city. They seek for the almost same level of gastronomy but with a more casual setting, less staff and fancy interior to ensure a better price for the customers.

One of these places is Mes close to the town hall square. Mads Magnusson is the chef-owner, and at Mes he serves the food he likes to eat himself. The style is Nordic and seasonal with bold flavors and plenty of deliciousness. The level goes into the gourmet light category.

For just DKK 50 you will get four snacks to kick off the dinner.

Crispy dough shells with dried tomato – another snack at Mes.

The menu is consisting of five courses for DKK 350. In addition to that you can order a selection of snacks for DKK 50. Mes has a quite interesting wine profile, which is another reason to pay them a visit. The focus is on German wine and the region Jura in Eastern France. I really embrace this narrowed focus. It gives the guests the opportunity to get to learn much more about certain areas during the dinner and I’m sure there will be something that suits your taste. To many, especially the oxidized wines from the Jura region are quite a different experience with their nutty, bold flavors. I truly adore them and I feel confident that you will too.

restaurant mes

If you choose the wine pairing at Mes, you will for sure experience some of the characteristic wines from the Jura region in France.

The dining room is quite small and intimate. The atmosphere is relaxed thanks to the waiters who want you to calm down and enjoy your evening. They will happily tell you a lot of good stories about the wines you’ll be drinking if you like them to.

Impressing food
Having in mind that the menu will only set you back DKK 350, it is a truly impressive meal. Each course has character, balance and lots of deliciousness and some of the dishes even have the complexity to be served in a one Michelin-starred restaurant to my opinion. Go and see for yourself – you won’t regret it!

Scallops and small cucumbers covered with with an anchovy sauce.

Barley risotto, sour cream and egg yolk.

Restaurant Mes
Jarmers Plads 1
1551 Copenhagen
Website

Gro Spiseri – organic rooftop dining at Østerbro

Location, location, location – sometimes it does matter. And makes the difference. If there is one restaurant in Copenhagen that lives up to that standard it is Gro Spiseri at ØsterGro, a rooftop garden in the Østerbro area of Copenhagen. ØsterGro works as a small garden for local members who take part in the work in return of vegetables, herbs and so in.

gro spiseri

The glass house is where the dinner will take place.

A couple of years, a restaurant called Stedsans was added to the rooftop. The incredibly successful restaurant decided to close last year and start a new project in Sweden called Stedsans in the woods.

Luckily, Gro Spiseri has taken over and continued a similar concept based on local organic and biodynamic produce from farms in and around Copenhagen. The dinner takes place in a glass house at a long table where you will get to talk to the other diners during the night.

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Apollo Bar – simple cooking in artistic surroundings

Things do not always have to be too complicated. That counts for food as well. Sometimes it just has to be simple, well-made and delicious. Sounds good? I have some great news for you!

apollo bar

Beautiful tartlets with mussel cream and fresh peas – one of the snacks at Apollo Bar.

Next to famous Nyhavn you will find Kunsthal Charlottenborg, a part of an old castle from the 1670’s. The building houses art educations and exhibitions and now also a restaurant.  The chef Frederik Bille Brahe – well-known to Copenhageners – has opened a combined canteen and bar in the building. In the canteen, students as well as “normal” people can get a well-made, cheap lunch based on fresh, daily changing produce, which makes it a perfect place to stop for lunch. The canteen is open from Monday to Friday from 11.30 am to 2 pm.

White asparagus, herbs and parmesan.

In the bar you can have cocktails, wine, snacks and a selection of dishes to choose from and I can highly recommend a visit based on the dishes I tried.

Simple and delicious
Back to the simple food i was about to introduce: Frederik Bille Brahe is not trying to make something too fancy. He believes in his cooking and dares to serve dished that are not flooded with dots, herbs etc. The turbot dish was a perfect example. Bille Brahe prepared the fresh fish before us and approx. 15 minutes later is was cooked to perfection and served with lovage purée and fresh green asparagus – summer on a plate; so fresh, so juicy, so perfect. I could not ask for more.

Turbot to die for – served with lovage and asparagus.

Apollo Bar & Canteen is a highly recommendable place for everyone, who just wants excellent cooking without fancy decorations. The atmosphere is very relaxed and you can always just drop by to have a nice glass of wine and a delicious plate of food. During the weekends, it is recommended to book in advance.

Apollo Bar
Charlottenborg
Nyhavn 2
1051 Copenhagen
Web

The bar has the following opening hours:

Tues – Wed 8 – 17
Thurs – Fri 8 – 24
Saturday 10 – 24
Sunday 10 – 17
Monday closed

 

Chicks by Chicks – a chicken paradise

Chicks by chicks

As a hotel, we feel very privileged to have so many interesting restaurants and bars in our neighborhood called Vesterbro. One of them is Chicks by Chicks, which opened last year and just got announced as restaurant of the year by the Danish national newspaper Politiken. It might sound strange when I tell you that the place is a traditional rotisserie serving chickens. But there is more to the story about this lovely place located just 10 minutes by foot from Nimb Hotel.

Organic chickens
Chicks by Chicks is not just another rotisserie. All the chickens used are organic, which also counts for almost any other ingredient in the kitchen. Chicks by Chicks is one of those lovely places where you can get wonderful food without getting ripped off. For instance, a whole chicken from the rotisserie costs 195 DKK which is not much more than an organic chicken would set you back in a supermarket.

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John’s Hotdog Deli – a perfect fast food stop in Kødbyen

Denmark is famous for its hotdog stands located at busy streets all over the country. It is an easy way to get a quick meal on the go if you do not have the time to go to a restaurant.

Despite the hotdog stands’ iconic status there has been a decrease in the number of stands throughout the last couple of decades. Sushi, burgers, shawarma and other types of fastfood has gained territory and several hotdog stands have had to close. The wider range of options is one reason for the hotdog “crisis”. Another one is due to the simple fact that too many stands have been serving hotdogs based on terrible industrial products, which are neither healthy or satisfying to eat.

Meet John
There has been a change during the last couple of years. The hotdog movement has gained new energy and become much more quality orientated. For instance the yearly Danish hotdog championship has been an important factor in bringing back the pride to the business. One of the pioneers in this movement is John Michael Jensen, who for 10 years has been running John’s Hotdog Deli next to the main station and just across the street from Nimb. Continue reading

Søllerød Kro – modern French cooking and amazing hospitality

søllerød kro

søllerød kro

Step inside the gate to the courtyard at magnificent Søllerød Kro.

A great way to really figure out if you have had a great meal is to ask yourself: “Do I want to come again?”. If the answer is “Yes!”, you know that you have found something great. If you on top of that get withdrawal symptoms after a few weeks, you know that it is really special.

This is how I feel about Søllerød Kro north of Copenhagen (a 25 minutes drive from the center). The old inn has been existing for more than 340 years and since the establishment not much has changed around the old building. It is surrounded by a church, a big forest and a pond where the chefs use to drop their students after their graduation from chef’s school.

Inside, much more has happened since a local priest got permission to serve food and offer a good night’s sleep to people passing by 340 years ago. Today, Søllerød Kro is a gourmet restaurant serving French inspired food with a Nordic, personal twist added by the head chef, Brian Mark Hansen, who has been defending the Michelin star every year since he took over the stove in 2013.

Summer in the shape of a snack: Apple bands rolled with lemon verbena.

Give them two stars!
If I were a Michelin inspector, I would give two stars to Søllerød Kro right away. The food, the wine and the ambience are merged together to a perfect whole – you simply feel at home right away. This is especially due to the restaurant manager, Jan Restorff. He is a living legend in Danish gastronomy being famous and highly acknowledged for his unique skills as a host ensuring a personal experience suited for every guest. Feeling in good hands is an important part of being able to enjoy a delicious meal, and you will find absolutely no snobbish attitude at Søllerød Kro.

What I always enjoy about coming to Søllerød Kro is their uncompromising approach to produce. You will only find top quality products on the menu regardless if it is caviar, truffles or asparagus. The starting point is usually the French cuisine but Brian Mark Hansen always adds a personal touch to the dishes bringing in different textures and flavors.

Lobster, hazelnuts and peas.

Combined with Jan Restorff’s knowledge and ability to pair food and wine you are in for a treat. Restorff is not afraid of mixing conventional and natural wines – as long as they are great, they can make it to the table.

Søllerød Kro is famous for its desserts. This is one of Brian Mark Hansen’s signatures: hay milk ice cream, pistachio and thyme.

Sit in the courtyard
Søllerød Kro is open all year round. The kitchen follows the seasons closely in order to give the most fresh ingredients to the guests. What you can only enjoy during the summer is the chance to sit outside in the courtyard. It adds another dimension to the dining experience. Do not be afraid to take your children with you – Søllerød Kro welcomes all guests.

Søllerød Kro
Søllerødvej 35 – 2840 Holte
+45 45 80 25 05
mail@soelleroed-kro.dk
Website

SEA by Kiin Kiin – elegant Thai flavours at Nyhavn

There’s no doubt that the last decade in Danish gastronomy has been about the new Nordic cuisine. But alongside this great revolution Copenhagen has had the exclusive honor of being the hometown of the only Thai restaurant with a Michelin star in Europe since David Thompson’s Nahm in London lost its star in 2011.

sea by kiin kiin

SEA by Kiin Kiin is situated at the very end of Nyhavn. Come inside as I will guide you through my meal.

The name of the restaurant is Kiin Kiin and the founder, Henrik Yde, has shown Danes as well as tourists that Thai food can keep up with the more “fine” cuisines around the world. Throughout the years he has been expanding his portfolio of Asian restaurants in Copenhagen and last year he opened three new restaurants; a restaurant serving the world-wide trendy steamed buns called bao, VeVe, a vegetarian fine dining restaurant and finally SEA by Kiin Kiin, which is supposed to me a more casual place still serving elegantly presented food in comfortable surroundings. The latter is the one I will try to give you a further introduction to right here.

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