If you should only try one traditional Danish dish, it should be smørrebrød. Smørrebrød – an open-faced sandwich with a base of rye bread – is by far our best culinary invention if we set aside the new Nordic era, to which the smørrebrød chefs have actually contributed a lot.
To locals, smørrebrød is mostly seen as an elevated version of our usual lunch, which is based on rye bread with some sort of spreading, charcuteri or similar. It has much more to it than that. A good piece of smørrebrød is as good as every other dish that you can find.
It all started at Nimb
From my office at Nimb, I am just a minute away from one of the most important places to have smørrebrød. In the 1880’s, the first restaurants serving the more complex pieces of smørrebrød started to appear in Copenhagen. The oldest menu that we know of in Denmark is dating back to 1883 and it belonged to the elegant Nimb Restaurant.
Today, our smørrebrød restaurant is called Fru Nimb (“Fru” means Mrs.). It is located in the Nimb building with the entrance facing Tivoli. The room is light and elegant with Danish furniture classics all around. There is a wide selection of beer to follow the food and as any other smørrebrød restaurant respecting itself, Fru Nimb has a wide list of aquavit and schnapps as well.
My favorites from the menu
The menu offers a wide selection of smørrebrød ranging from the traditional pickled herring to steak tartare. It can be hard to choose from among the tempning options and it might be a good choice to go with the daily changing three course menu for 255 DKK. To assist you a bit, I have decided to share some of my favorite pieces with you.
Pickled herring with curry
Pickled herring in curry sauce is a favorite in many homes around the country. Instead of mixing the herring into the sauce, the chefs are adding the delicately spiced curry sauce on top of the firm, meaty herring. The trick is to keep it simple so there is only dill, capers and red onion added on top in order for the herring to play the main part.
“Rullepølse” with parsley mayonnaise and onions
Rullepølse can be translated into rolled pork. What you do is to take a big piece of pork belly, flavour it with a lot of pepper and other spices, roll it tighly and cook it. Afterwards, it goes into a form with some sort of heavy item on top to make the significant shape. Fru Nimb uses free range pork full of flavour and texture. On top, you’ll find “sky”, which is basically gelified stock, which enhances the intensity of the meat flavour. It is quite wobbly but it is truly delicious. The thick slices of rullepølse it toppet with parsley mayonnaise adding a creamy element while the cress on top adds a peppery bite to the dish.
Organic hardboiled eggs with Greenland shrimps and lemon mayonnaise
If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Hardboiled eggs with a beautiful, orange yolk are accompanied by freshly peeled shrimps from Greenland as well as lemon mayonnaise adding both creaminess and acidity. The shrimps have a delicious, firm texture with a nice bite to them and the runny yolk and the mayonnaise are simply covering them with a creamy, velvety layer.
Cucumber and smoked fresh cheese
To be honest, I did not expect much from this piece of smørrebrød. The watery texture of the cucumber combined with the firm rye bread did not sound like a great combination but it really is in this case. The organic cucumber is presented in several ways:
First, on top of the bread, there are thin slices of salted cucumber with dots of smoked fresh cheese on top. You’ll also find peaces of pickled cucumber adding a pleasant sweet and sour layer to the dish. Finally, the chips of crispy rye bread adds some roasted notes to the very fresh yet fulfilling dish. A great vegetarian option.
“Leverpostej” with bacon, cucumber and beetroot
“Leverpostej” – or pork liver paste – is a traditional Danish spread to have for lunch and this one is very true to the original. Fru Nimb’s version has a deep, meaty flavour and a soft, juicy texture. Bacon is a classic companion to leverpostej and for this piece of smørrebrød, high quality bacon is used. It is cured with salt and pepper and adds flavour as well as a crispy texture to the dish. Sweet and sour pickled cucumber and beetroot adds the necessary freshness to the dish.
I hope you enjoyed this little presentation of my current favorites from the menu. Fru Nimb is the perfect spot for lunch when visiting Tivoli and it is an important part of the Danish culinary heritage.