Lunchtime in Copenhagen
I walked right past the sign for the grave of Hans Christian Anderson.
It’s not that I wasn’t interested in paying my respects to the Danish master of fairytales, but my stomach started to rumble. After a morning exploring two of Copenhagen‘s emerging neighborhoods — Vesterbro and Norrebro — it was time for lunch.
From the leafy Assistens Cemetery, I arrived on the doorstep of one of Copenhagen’s most interesting food destinations: Jaegersborggade. This cobbled street was once known as a derelict block home to drug dealers, but today, all of that has changed. Local chefs are largely responsible, deciding to give this area of Norrebro a try for restaurants, bakeries, and cafes. I brought my appetite to see what two ex-Noma chefs, Christian Puglisi and Kim Rossen, have up their sleeves at Copenhagen’s first natural wine bar, Manfreds & Vin.
The pair first opened Relæ–home to one Michelin star–and followed it up with the more casual, all-day Manfreds across the street. We arrived right as lunch service was starting, and took a corner table next to shelves stocked with natural wines. With exposed plywood and a chalkboard behind the bar listing wines by the glass, Manfreds has a comfortable feel. The setting is ideal for sitting back and getting fed. The sharing menu is designed to showcase the daily kitchen creations — and is full of surprises.
The chef, wearing a leather apron with a serious buckle, delivered each of our share plates over a couple hours. First we nibbled on olives, slowly chewed blue mussels, and stabbed the “world’s best anchovies” with our forks, served straight from the can. These dishes were all served continuously with an addictive basket of sourdough bread. I couldn’t get enough of the flavorful salads.
One highlight was an egg dish of burnt onions and poached egg. Served in a black bowl, the bright yellow of the yolk popped against the black backdrop. When I thought I could eat no more, a plate of domestic, all natural pork was placed in front of me. I found room to savor a few tender slices.
Throughout the meal, we sipped on an all natural white wine from Provence. Instead of simply making a suggestion about the wine and allowing us to taste, we got a story too. The wine came from a vineyard in Provence where the vines grow in a rocky former riverbed. Telling the tale of the winemaker, our server whipped out his iPhone to show pictures of the very vineyards where the wine came from. This story reflects the philosophy of the restaurant: it is engaged with the products it serves. Whether it’s herbs from the local forest or all natural wine from the south of France, there is a story about how the food reached your table.
Back out on Jaegersborgadde, it was time to explore. The well-known Coffee Collective is down the street, with picnic tables outside and locals parking their bikes to stop in for an espresso. Meyers Bakery, with its window full of tempting pastries, is here too. An entire day could be spent indulging in this street’s treats and taking a nap beneath a cherry tree in Assistens Cemetery in between.