Charmed in Copenhagen

Copenhagen—a city long known to foodies as the home of René Redzepi and the famed Noma, its happy residents, cycling culture, and sustainability—wowed me as a culinary gem from the get-go. A late summer sojourn meant long, light nights, parks and outdoor spaces bursting with good energy, and dry enough weather to rely on bicycles (which were easily rented at the hotel) as the ideal method of transportation. From an amazing, central location, walking the city—with an umbrella for safety—was very doable. 

Hotel d’Angleterre in Copenhagen

Hotel d’Angleterre—dating back to the 1700s—was reborn in 2013 after an extensive renovation and has long been considered one of Copenhagen’s finest addresses. Situated in about as perfect a spot as I could hope for, right on the touristy and iconic Kongens Nytorv Square—a thirty-second walk from the metro station, it’s also just around the corner from exquisite shopping (don’t miss Illum, the city’s oldest department store, or Torvehallerne, a one-of-a-kind public market brimming with Danish delicacies)—and is steps away from many of the sights and museums on my hit-list. The hotel’s Amazing Space spa was a tranquil haven with an indoor pool where I enjoyed a lovely massage, but the standout of an already spectacular visit is most certainly the hotel’s Michelin-starred Restaurant Marchal

Chef Jakob de Neergaard, a tall, calm, sublimely personable veteran chef brings his fine French expertise to the table, including his years of experience at iconic spots like Paris’ Ritz Hotel, the three-star Alain Ducasse, and the three-star Restaurant Bruneau in Brussels. I wondered how fine French cuisine would fare in a city so dedicated to modern Nordic cooking, hyperlocal ingredients, and sustainability, but the goal of Marchal is to marry the two cooking philosophies in the most innovative and elevated way possible—and they surely succeed.

To start the evening, our server poured chilled, bubbly Fortnum & Mason Copenhagen sparkling tea into our Champagne flutes—a thoughtful gesture not overlooked by a very pregnant diner and one of many fine dining experiences in the city where non-alcoholic beverage pairings were as well thought out as the expensive wine offerings—alongside a smattering of canapés including gougères with truffle cream and comté, caviar with king crab and Jerusalem artichokes, a variety of oysters, and Jamón Iberico de Bellota on toast with cep mushroom and Gruyére. When it came time to order entrées, we asked our notably hospitable server what he thought couldn’t be missed—naturally, we ended up with a whole black lobster stuffed with a crispy salad and topped with 30 grams of caviar, served with brioche, grilled lemon, and a wonderful cocktail sauce. The presentation was nothing short of extraordinary and this dish was the highlight on a trip already filled with amazing food. When the chef later tells me about someone who’d flown from London just for this lobster, I whole-heartedly believe him. 

Whole black lobster stuffed with a crispy salad and topped with 30 grams of caviar, served with brioche, grilled lemon, and cocktail sauce at Hotel d’Angleterre’s Marchal in Copenhagen

The hotel put us up in a comfortable, thoughtfully decorated suite which had a balcony overlooking the square and felt like a true respite from the busy world below. There was no more perfect a spot to rest my feet after a long day or enjoy a beautiful, sunny morning with a lavish breakfast spread. 

Marchal certainly goes big at breakfast too—signature dishes include an omelet with lobster and black truffle, or perhaps you’d prefer caviar—and less fussy offerings like the croque madame with herbed ham and truffle béchamel or even eggs Florentine are just as impressive and flavorful.

Breakfast on the balcony at Hotel d’Angleterre in Copenhagen | Photo provided by Hotel d’Angleterre
Beautiful suite with balcony | Photo provided by Hotel d’Angleterre

The bright side of being right in the center of the city is the ability to explore all the other amazing food nearby. It’s a quick walk to some of the country’s most celebrated makers—midmorning coffee and pastries from Hart’s Brød + Bar, for one, which took me right by the iconic and Instagrammable colorful houses on Nyhavn Harbor and over the bridge through an array of spectacular street food vendors. Or try POPL Burger, a burger joint by Noma that focuses on organic Danish beef burgers and pretty memorable veggie patties that are crafted in a two-day process at Noma’s fermentation lab. POPL sits right by the water in Christianshavn and is a great location to sit and relax with friends. Then head over to Copenhagen Distillery for a tasting and don’t miss their unique bay leaf or oak gin.

The level of Scandinavian cuisine has never been higher, with chefs scrambling after the finest local ingredients, aiming to make every restaurant more sustainable than the last and elevating even the simplest meals. Take smørrebrød—an iconic and popular open-faced sandwich served on a thin layer of dark rye bread, topped with any number of local ingredients and found all over the city. At Selma, the only smørrebrød restaurant in Copenhagen awarded a Bib Gourmand in the Nordic Guide Michelin, traditional dishes like creamy shrimp salad, pickled herring, or even the simple tomato with herbs, are all crafted and presented thoughtfully and with local, season-driven produce and innovative flavors in mind. 

Smørrebrød at Selma in Copenhagen | Photo by Shauna Burke

After being cooped up in Los Angeles far too long, I find myself not wanting to leave this outdoorsy, culinary haven. My list of must-try restaurants is not even close to being checked off and I’m finding the overall energy here to be completely invigorating—the vaccination rate is high and pandemic-related restrictions have nearly ended—a much different picture from what I see at home. It’s a return to normality that feels foreign at first. If nothing else, it gives me hope that we’ll have this for ourselves soon enough and yet I can’t wait to return to this most charming city. •


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