The week prior to leaving for Copenhagen, I started to ask around for recommendations and was inundated with e-mails suggesting restaurants, bars and shops. It seems Copenhagen is currently considered to be just the place for the trendy and as a result is flooded with fans of food and design. Don’t let that put you off – despite the coolness of Copenhagen, it is still a city where individualism reigns and the locals are relaxed and friendly, which makes for a rather wonderful atmosphere.
It is also: a touch more expensive than London, brimming with good-looking people, extremely style-conscious (thankfully the fashion is cheaper than the food) and, despite Nordic Noir’s best efforts to convince me otherwise, not awash with victims of murder. Oh, and it’s very, very veggie/organic-friendly (this pleased me enormously, though I suspect it might go into the ‘things that put me off’ list for some of you).
View from the Langebro Bridge, Copenhagen
Monday / Once settled into our hotel (the Radisson Blu Scandinavia – affordable and nice enough but not outstanding), we went for a walk.
While taking a cursory glance at the famous Tivoli gardens, we caught a glimpse of the below rather spectacularly bedecked woman who appeared to be on her way back from a casual gathering, judging from the attire of her companions. The photo quality may be poor, but mark my words: I have never, in all my time in London, seen anyone quite as titillating and confident a dresser as this woman. I bitterly regret that I will not see any further creations; the contents of her wardrobe must be quite something.
Tuesday / Walking from our hotel to the centre along Vindebrogade, we noticed the that the closer to the large, buzzing shopping street Laederstraede we got, the older and grander the buildings became. Also, the jazz. Lots of it; the Jazz Festival in Copenhagen meant that no open space during our visit was without musical accompaniment.
Thorvaldsen Museum, Copenhagen
For lunch, we stopped at the Royal Smushi Cafe. A little restaurant with a courtyard just off the bustling Laederstraede, the cafe is renowned for smushi (small, open sandwiches). The food was good but took the best part of forty-five minutes to arrive.
Fed and orange-juiced, we walked to the nearby canal to jump on a tour boat. As Copenhagen winds around several canals, this boat tour is a really good way to see the bulk of the city from in an hour (and the sun was blazing down, so the breeze offered some welcome relief). I’d been warned by a local that it wasn’t worth making the special effort to go to see The Little Mermaid as it is fairly far from the centre (a little like Liberty island in New York) so was glad to cross this off my list during the canal trip.
We finished the day with a meal at PatePate. A wine bar that used to be a liver pate factory, this little restaurant is right at home in the trendy meat-processing quarter of Kødbyen. The tapas was a little hit and miss but the wine was good and the bill extremely modest for Copenhagen.
After eating, we headed for a drink at the cocktail bar Ruby on Nybrogade. Having never had a Mint Julep, I tried theirs. I am a convert. I’d really recommend going on a weeknight if you can to avoid having to elbow your way in.
Wednesday / We succumbed to the charms of the shops in Copenhagen after breakfast, starting at Illums Bolighus. Founded in 1925, the shop was a first to integrate furnished interiors and textiles with goods. It’s well worth a visit if interiors excite you as it is a treasure trove of Denmark’s unique designs.
Next, we headed to A.C Perchs Thehandel on nearby Kronprinsensgade. This little shop reminded me of a grown up version of a Victorian sweet shop – small, slightly cluttered and very beautiful. I left with green tea and a home blend, both of which I’m very much enjoying. A little side note – on the way I stopped at a cafe and bought a traditional flødeboller (translation: cream buns, but they’re really whipped meringue encased in chocolate). It was horrid and far too sugary. I’ve been reliably informed that the best place to buy a flødeboller is Summerbird. Avoid deviating.
On the way to the newly-trendy Norrebro district, we stopped for a healthy lunch at Pussy Galore’s Flying Circus. The cafe sits where the Kobenhavn district meets Norrebro and the light salad we ate provided a perfect refuel.
From there, we found what was to become my favourite street in Copenhagen: Jaegersborggade. In my excitement, I neglected to take photos bar the one below so will instead have to rely on words to describe the wonders. The street is home to the Michelin-starred Relae and also to Manfreds & Vin. It houses Ro Chokolade (where I ate a liquorice and caramel ice cream made in the kitchen that morning), Karamelleriet (a caramel bakery) and My Favourite Things (a clothes/cosmetics shop that really did sell some of my favourite things). These shops were small and a community atmosphere prevailed among the owners. We saw a shop-owner knitting on the stoop of her shop ask the chocolatier to bring her some of his bonbons. He obliged her. The exchange warmed me.
Supper that evening was at Manfreds & Vin. I’m not ordinarily one to take notes on food, but some of the dishes of the seven courses we ate were eminently noteworthy, so notes I took. Standouts were the sautéed kohlrabi with smoked goat cream and white wine dressing, the roasted onion, leek, danish cheese and buckwheat salad and the red cabbage, mushroom and breadcrumb salad.
After a drink at Mikkeller bar, I packed in a haze of happiness. My suitcase and I were both a little heavier on departure. That won’t stop me from returning.