Copenhagen is the home of New Nordic cuisine, which respects local food traditions while prioritising fresh, sustainably sourced and seasonal ingredients | Martina Lanotte / EyeEm
When you can boast about being the host of the world’s best restaurant four times, you know something good is cooking in Copenhagen. As the home of New Nordic cuisine, the Danish capital is a culinary hotbed of innovative restaurants and creative chefs.
In 2004, Danish entrepreneur and food activist Claus Meyer worked with rising star René Redzepi and other Nordic chefs to define a new direction for cuisine in this region. The resultant New Nordic Manifesto respects local food traditions while prioritising fresh, sustainably sourced and seasonal ingredients. These are some of the best restaurants in Copenhagen that embody those values.
A four-time first-place winner on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants expert ranking, Noma is the ultimate place to go for New Nordic cuisine in Copenhagen. Closed for a year in 2017, the Noma 2.0 is newly situated on an island within the former military base, and now hippy commune, Christiania. Guests are welcomed into the Viking longhouse-inspired main building after wandering through beautiful Danish-designed greenhouses and outbuildings. Fixed menus will delight adventurous eaters with foraged and found ingredients, which are themed throughout the year during the distinct Vegetable, Game and Forest, and Seafood seasons. Dining at Noma is pricier than other restaurants in the city, but the special experience is well worth the extra Danish kroner.
Boasting two Michelin stars, Geranium is a unique dining destination that has placed its energy and focus on further exploring Scandinavian cuisine. The Geranium experience is described as involving ‘all the diner’s senses’. Its 8th floor location next to Fælledparken allows visitors incredible views of the stunning park as well as Copenhagen’s skyline. With a kitchen led by award winning chef Rasmus Kofoed, every plate served exudes the grace of an artwork and the knowledgeable staff will happily explain the story behind every dish.
Recognised as the Sustainable Restaurant of the Year in 2017, Amass is serious about offering distinctive food that is procured, prepared and processed sustainably – 90 percent of the ingredients that make up their inventive menu are organic, and many are even grown on the premises. Set in the newly energised industrial area of Copenhagen known as Refshaleøen, Amass’s urban warehouse provides a minimalist setting for diners, with colourful street art on the walls. Splurge on the whole set menu or, for a more affordable way to experience Amass, à la carte offerings are available at the bar on a first-come, first-served basis.
Located in Copenhagen’s old meat hall, Kødbyens Fiskebar contrasts with the area’s history through its inspiring dedication to seafood. The restaurant’s menu changes daily depending on the catch of the day. Guests can choose from options such as king crab from Norway, blue mussels from Limfjorden steamed in apple cider, and razor clam from Scotland with malt bread, fennel and hazelnuts. The restaurant offers several dining experiences including quick bites at the bar, casual dining in the lounge, full meals in the restaurant and outdoor eating on sunny days. The interior of Kødbyens Fiskebar exudes a charming atmosphere and the centerpiece fish tank has become an icon of the venue.
When in Copenhagen, you must try smørrebrød. Denmark’s classic open-faced sandwiches have traditional roots, but the contemporary take on this Danish lunch staple at Aamanns 1921 is truly a thing of beauty. Step inside the bright and modern design space, which is set in the half-timbered old town, for a guided lunchtime tour of the iconic Danish dish. Staff will help you manoeuvre the menu via marinated herring, smoked salmon or delicate Danish new potatoes served with gooseberries, geranium, crispy onions, chive mayo and cress. Wash it all down with local beers on tap or try one of Aamanns’ famous house-cured snaps.
The long, communal table at Gro Spiseri creates a community atmosphere
Organic farm-to-table dining gets elevated to new levels at the Østerbro neighbourhood restaurant Gro Spiseri. Head to the rooftop for a unique dining experience, where place settings are laid out in a plant-decorated greenhouse surrounded by the garden where the vegetables on your plate have been grown. Sip natural wines and soak in the views of the city, which are particularly magical at sunset. Creative dishes on the set menu switch with the seasons, and any ingredients not grown here are sourced from local and sustainable purveyors. A long communal table engenders a community atmosphere here, and each choice dish is presented by the chef and his staff.
Every day in Copenhagen, you can rub elbows with local workers taking their lunch break at this old-school spot in the middle of the city. Restaurant Kronborg is a perfect place to stop if you want to taste the Danish classics, such as marinated herrings served with dense and dark rye bread or crisply fried plaice. Do as the Danes and sip the house-flavoured snaps. Step down below the street level to the small dining room, which is perfectly cosy, especially as the fire roars when the weather turns colder. The service here is friendly and efficient, and dishes are perfectly presented on Royal Copenhagen plates.
Copenhagen’s 2019 newcomer is Restaurant Tolv in the vibrant Vesterbro neighbourhood. With its serious commitment to procuring the freshest and most sustainable raw ingredients, seasonality dictates what dishes you’ll find on the menu. At once classy and casual inside, it’s the food that takes centre stage here. The owners are self-proclaimed food and wine nerds, and Tolv, which means 12 in Danish, offers simple comfort food with elevated flavours. Moderately priced, the highly regarded restaurant is ideally situated in a pretty plum-coloured building on popular Enghave Plads.
Directly translated, La Banchina means ‘the dock’ and, fittingly, this laid-back spot sits at a little corner of the Copenhagen canals in the ever-developing Refshaleøen area. Sit outside or even take a dip in the clean canal and then warm up in their on-site sauna before sampling a selection of natural wines and organic, biodynamic food. The menu may be small but focuses on fresh vegetables and locally sourced seafood served in creative flavour combinations for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Dishes include cabbage, carrots, pumpkin purée and buckwheat in brown butter hollandaise or halibut, braised fennel and roasted potato with mussel sauce.
The original Grød in Nørrebro was the world’s first porridge bar when it opened in 2011 | Courtesy of Grød
The world’s first porridge bar has several cosy outposts around Copenhagen, but the original output opened on the bustling Jægersborggade in Nørrebro in 2011. A modern take on a Viking staple, Grød consistently serves a variety of bowls filled with warm porridge-y goodness. Not your basic oatmeal, the Grød classic comes with oats cooked in organic milk and topped with home-made caramel sauce, diced apples and chopped almonds. Fully customisable, customers can choose from a treasure trove of toppings such as seasonal fruits, fresh compotes, coconut or peanut butter. At lunch or dinner time, you can also find creative bowls of lentil dhal, risotto and congee (Chinese rice porridge).