Coming to Denmark you simply cannot miss out on our national treasure smørrebrød, the Danish word for open-faced sandwiched, which – to me – does not really cover what it is.
Smørrebrød is most of time based of on a piece of rye bread, which is more compact in its texture and more nutritious than normal white bread. The rye bread serves as the foundation for the all the various toppings that you will find when you go through the menu at one of the places to have smørrebrød.
Smørrebrød should be regarded as equal to any other type of (good) food, not just something to have for lunch. Smørrebrød can be very complex and elaborated and luckily several chefs have started to see the potential in it – previously it was not a job for “real” chefs to do smørrebrød.
New star at Vesterbro
In January, the district Vesterbro got its own food market called Westmarket. The area was previously a shopping arcade but it has been renewed and set up with a wide range of different food stalls. One that it really worth stopping by is Selma Restaurant owned and run by Swedish Magnus Pettersson, who until the opening was head chef at Aamanns Etablissement.
The fact that Pettersson is not Danish gives him more freedom to interpret smørrebrød – he does not need to stick to old rules and traditions. That has resulted in a menu consisting of elegant, modern pieces of smørrebrød that I cannot recommend enough after having tried a good selection of the menu, which changes daily according to the season and the suppliers who are mostly small, independant organic or biodynamic growers.
I tried five of the pieces in half size. Compared to the ones pictured below, the pieces are double the size and cost 85 to 90 DKK.
I started with two different servings of herring. The first one was gently pickled and served with cremefraiche, pickled onions and dried blueberry, hibiscus and beetroot; lovely freshness from the condiments that supported the firm, delicate herring filets nicely.
The other one was pickled in different spices and topped with new potatoes, horseradish and very hot brown butter with almost cooked the surface of the herring and added nutty flavors and richness to the dish.
I continued with new potatoes topped with chive mayonnaise, crispy chicken skin, bacon, different herbs and dried lovage. Potatoes and lovage are really made for each other, and I enjoyed the perfect balance in the dish.
Then it was time for flounder fried in loads of butter and topped with a generous spoonful of tartare sauce with pumpkin and herbs. A more simple combination but still very delicious.
I finished with a tartare. Instead of working as a surface, the rye bread was this time made into a crumble fried in butter and sprinkled over the raw free-range beef. Dots of lovage mayonnaise added creaminess and a nice herbal taste to the dish.
All in all, paying Selma Restaurant is a no-brainer. The food is delicious and made with the same dedication as in a fine restaurant. On top of that prices are extremely fair.
If you are a fan of handcrafted beer, Selma Restaurant will definitely appeal to you. Magnus Pettersson has made a nice selection of Danish and foreign beers from small breweries from tap as well as bottle. Go and check it out now!
Westmarket, Vesterbrogade 97