We arrived in Copenhagen on Tuesday evening when it was already dark and a bit drizzly. By the time we got to our hotel all we wanted to do was find something to eat, and go to bed.
We asked the lady behind the front desk to recommend us somewhere local and delicious. She suggested we try the Maharajah Indian restaurant which was just around the corner from the hotel. She was most enthusiastic about it, and it seems, as we bobbed around Copenhagen, that Indian food is a hot ticket in town this season. There were restaurants everywhere.
We have never been known to turn down a curry, and as it was so close we decided to give it a go and save exploring the local cuisine for the following day.
I have to say we were disappointed. It looked like an Indian restaurant, flock wall paper, all the same art pieces as in restaurants at home, swirly carpet, lots of stainless steel serving utensils and incomprehensible music – but that was as far as the similarities went.
To be fair, I think, coming from Leicester, we are rather spoiled, but with only one choice of rice (pilau), and only variations on naan as bread offerings, it wasn’t quite what we expected. There were also quite a limited number of dishes, and none of the hot variations you would expect as standard at home. There was lots of korma and biryani, and tikka masala, but no Madras or even Dupiaza.
Jason ordered chicken tikka masala and I had the channa masala, we ordered it with rice and a plain naan. The service was indifferent in execution and the food slow to arrive. When it came it was perfectly edible but tasted nothing like curry. You could taste tinned tomato soup as a base note for both dishes, which overwhelmed any spice that may have been added, and both dishes were bland as bland can be. They were basically stew.
We were incredibly disappointed. When we got back to the hotel the lady at the desk asked us eagerly if we had enjoyed our meal. We didn’t want to disappoint her so we just said that we had found it rather bland compared to what we get at home, and she warned us that all the Indian food in Denmark would be like that, apparently spicy curry is not popular. So be warned. If you are a curry connoisseur, do not eat Danish curry.
The next day we headed to Sweden for the day, where we chose to eat in a local burger restaurant which had an extensive menu, offering an Elvis burger with gherkins and peanut butter, as one of its specialities. The place was heaving with people, and as we are a fan of a gourmet burger we decided to try it out.
The food was hot and edible, but again, nothing special. We were beginning to think that we had killed an albatross or something. Especially when the credit card machine broke down just as we went to pay, and Jason had to trog ten minutes to find a bank machine to get cash. To be fair, they were queueing to get in as we left, and I wonder if again we have been spoiled by the proliferation of really good quality burger restaurants that have sprung up in the UK recently.
That afternoon I managed to bag my first cake of the holiday, a beautifully executed Princesstorte from a lovely bakery in Malmo in Sweden. I started to feel more cheerful, and an excellent sandwich on the hoof as we were exploring Copenhagen by night that evening really cheered me up.
On Thursday we spent the whole day in central Copenhagen and started our day with a fantastic pastry based breakfast at Andersen’s bakery, opposite Central Station and next to the Tivoli gardens. I had three mini pastries, one filled with creme patissiere, one with rhubarb and one with raspberry jam. They were exquisite.
Lunch was a lucky accident. Mrs. Jones, my marvellous friend, had recommended Nyhavn, the old port area as good for exploring and lunch. We navigated to it from the National Library, walking by the water front, and found a gorgeous Art Deco restaurant called Almanak on the water front.
I had the chef’s recommended smorrebrod, which is an open sandwich affair. I got two; one with rare roast beef, air dried onion rings, horse radish cream and powdered vinegar, and one with boiled eggs with still runny yolks, with brown shrimp, nasturtium leaves and home made mayonnaise. They were small but intense parcels of gorgeousness. I followed it up with sweets with my coffee. These consisted of a kind of jellied fruit pastille made from sea buckthorn, which had an incredible tangerine flavour but more perfumed and subtle, and a kind of ur white chocolate cookie sprinkled with dried raspberry powder. It was amazingly good.
That evening we stayed close to the hotel and chose a local bar/restaurant called Pixie, where I ate a beautiful rare steak with fabulous béarnaise sauce and crisply cooked chips with basil mayonnaise.
On our final morning we took a small detour on our way to the airport to pick up more pastries from Andersen’s bakery, and I sat on the train happily eating a most delicious cherry and vanilla Danish.
There was an abundance of restaurants/bars/cafes to choose from, and after a shaky start we really seemed to hit our stride. I would happily go back to test out more places. You will never be short of somewhere to eat.
Furthermore, the Danes serve the best coffee I have ever tasted in my life if you like your coffee dark, rich and fierce, which I do.
Take that Starbucks.