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Copenhagen makes a compelling case for a weekend trip, with boundary-pushing contemporary art and far more eateries than you can get through in just a few days. Here, local chef Rasmus Monk gives his recommendations for the best foodie weekend spots – from low-key bakeries to New Nordic fine-dining and everything in between.
Local chef Rasmus Munk is passionate about Copenhagen’s culinary offering, and at his experimental restaurant Alchemist in Refshaleøen – a waterfront ex-shipbuilding district – Munk gives customers a six-hour dining experience complete with performances and installations that blur the lines between food and art. Below, Munk gives his guide to where to eat in Copenhagen, as well as the best places to experience its creative scene.
Morning: Start the day at Juno the Bakery before admiring sculptures at the Louisiana
Kick off your first morning in Copenhagen at Munk’s favourite spot for baked goods in Østerbro, Juno the Bakery. Opened by former Noma chef Emil Glaser, Munk suggests going for a coffee, an “amazing croissant” and a Swedish kardemomme snurre (cardamom roll).
After filling up, take the train to the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. It’s home to constantly changing exhibitions of modern works by international artists and an outdoor sculpture park. The coastal setting is pretty special, with views of Sweden across the water acting as a spectacular backdrop to the Henry Moore and Alexander Calder pieces on display.
Afternoon: Head to the canal and then the Meatpacking District
“For lunch, I’d visit Barr – Thorsten Schmidt is an old Noma chef,” says Munk. “They do a lot of good beers and very grounded, traditional Danish cooking – but a bit higher end.” Dishes include schnitzel and whole-roasted chicken. And since you’ll be right by the canal, consider taking a quick post-lunch boat trip: “You get so many stories about Copenhagen, because you’re sailing around the lakes, and you’ll see a lot of Copenhagen in an hour.”
Cut back inland to the Meatpacking District, where you’ll find one of Denmark’s most popular galleries right now: Galleri Bo Bjerggaard. Entry is free, and it regularly hosts changing exhibitions by a range of European and American artists, with a focus on contemporary paintings.
After admiring the art, stop at nearby Prolog Coffee Bar for a pick-me-up. “You need to go to Prolog. It’s for sure the best coffee roastery we have in Denmark,” says Munk. “It’s run by a guy called Jonas, who’s selected small farmers and paid them 10 times the price the bigger brands do. He focuses a lot on sustainability and is a perfectionist in everything. He’s so knowledgeable and detailed, and can taste the difference on two degrees – we tried a blind coffee tasting on him.” Here, quality takes time: “You should be patient when you’re in there. I was with a friend who ordered tea, and it took him about eight minutes to make. It was worth the wait, though.”
Evening: Fine-dine at Mielcke & Hurtigkarl before continuing the night at a secret bar
Head to tree-lined, well-heeled Frederiksberg for dinner at Mielcke & Hurtigkarl, a space decorated with leafy green murals, chandeliers and huge windows looking out over The Royal Danish Horticultural Gardens. Munk recommends lingering over the cuisine, which is made up of global flavours with a heavy Asian slant (ingredients range from pak choi and tonka to truffle, sheep’s milk and venison). “It’s not a casual place, it’s more fine-dining – and I think that you need to experience that at least once in Copenhagen.”
End the evening with a nightcap at Kyros & Co, a New York-inspired, hidden speakeasy-style bar with inventive cocktail pairings (from a quince aperitif to coffee and cornflake flavours with cream sherry. One of the best places to stay in Copenhagen is Nimb Hotel, which is located in the grounds of Tivoli Gardens. The impressive dome-topped building by architect Knud Arne Petersen is Arabian-inspired, while the interiors are Nordic cool.
Morning: Carb up at Lille Bakery then check out Copenhagen Contemporary
Continue working your way around one of Denmark’s best exports, Danish pastries, at Lille Bakery (“lille” means small in Danish). “There are so many good bakeries opening in Copenhagen right now, but a lot of them are doing the same croissants and sourdough bread as everybody else. Lille Bakery has their own take – they don’t make any croissants, but they do serve croissant dough with Italian sausage inside – and different kombuchas.”
Walk five minutes north to immerse yourself in large-scale installations by both emerging and internationally renowned artists at Copenhagen Contemporary, which is housed in a former Refshaleøen welding factory. “The stuff in there is selected very well – there was a great Claudia Comte installation recently, about the environment, with tree trunks standing in there.” Comte’s fallen trees are intended to spark respect for fragile ecosystems, and visitors are encouraged to climb over them, as in many of the Copenhagen Contemporary exhibitions.
Afternoon: Take a dip in the sea followed by coffee and cake at La Banchina
Small (16-seat) candle-lit harbourside restaurant La Banchina has Danish hygge vibes in spades. Since it’s by the sea, and this is Scandinavia, make it a stopping-off point for a refreshing – or bracing – dip in the water. “We have a tradition at La Banchina on a Saturday, where every chef jumps into the water,” says Munk. Back inside, warm up with a coffee and some lemon pie or a cinnamon bun and watch the boats floating past.
Evening: Taste minimalist small plates at Geist and espresso martinis at Brønnum
Bo Bech, the chef at one of Munk’s favourite restaurants in town, Geist, isn’t afraid to take his menu of sharing plates to particularly challenging heights. “All his dishes are minimalistic in some way, and he’s daring to do it – to say this cauliflower and truffle sauce costs 200kr (£23.50), take it or leave it. I’ve had some of my best dishes there, and some of my worst – I think it’s amazing.” Other menu options include glazed chicken wings topped with scallops, and a wasabi ice cream with crème caramel and vanilla. “The atmosphere is more like New York, with loud music,” says Munk. Round off the night with an espresso martini at nearby Brønnum, a classic cocktail bar in a historic building by the Royal Danish Theatre.
Morning: Eat Noma-grade sourdough at Hart Bageri then visit the Martin Asbæk Gallery
Turn down the pace a little for your last day, starting with a late Copenhagen breakfast at Hart Bageri in Frederiksberg. Munk explains that Hart Bageri supplies all the sourdough bread for Noma, and his personal favourite is their mortadella sandwich with sourdough bread and fresh cheese.
After fuelling up, catch some art at the Martin Asbæk Gallery, which showcases up-and-coming and often quite daring young artists in its stark white exhibition space. “Some of the artists haven’t 100 percent found their style yet, they’re still developing,” says Munk, adding that “the owners really embrace diversity in their artists.”
Afternoon: Kick back with sharing plates at Baest
Head to Baest for a lazy Sunday lunch served family-style and made by chefs who make a point of knowing everything about each and every ingredient. This place shows off Copenhagen’s farm-to-table dining in its purest form. “Christian Puglisi has his own farm, so he gets his own milk from the cows, his own mozzarella and all his own cold cuts,” says Munk. It’s also worth trying their Roman-style pizzas – Puglisi marries his Italian culinary know-how with mostly New Nordic ingredients. “They have a dish on in the winter time, a pizza with green cabbage, blue cheese and pork scratchings. And they do an amazing classic margherita.”
If you have time, head back to the Meatpacking District for a whip round the weekend markets to end your trip to Copenhagen with souvenirs and local produce.