Smørrebrød is about as Danish as you can get. If you enjoy it, you’re in the club. If you can pronounce it, you’re the leader of the club.
Denmark has been going through a bit of a culinary renaissance with many restaurants parting ways with classic Italian or French menus and returning to their roots. More than that, some have even begun to play with the idea of traditional Danish foods. And that is exactly what Restaurant Kronborg’s owner Claes Petersen had in mind when he – along with his head chef – created the menu for their lunch special, ‘Smørrebrød with a Twist’.
Running all month for Wondercool, the three-course menu is said to be a play on the quintessential open-faced sandwich. According to Petersen – and simply by perusing their regular lunch menu – Restaurant Kronborg plays to a very Danish audience. Plates like Plaice fillet and drinks like schnapps and bitters infiltrate the menu.
Not to mention, the ambience truly speaks to the idea of ‘hygge’. Folded into the corner of Brolæggerstræde and Knabrostræde in central Copenhagen, Restaurant Kronborg is one of those places that hasn’t been changed by tourism. The room feels warm; exposed brick is decorated with a variety of paintings and old art that bring to mind a tavern minus the intimidation.
The three-course menu is pre-empted with four different beers from the local Nørrebro Bryghus, the first of which is a light lager in the style of a Czech pilsner. It’s fresh, and it readies your palate for what Petersen calls a truly Danish meal: Herring with an apple and celery garnish, and freshly boiled cod roe, on top of which is mayonnaise, lemon and tiny shrimp. It’s heavy but delectable, and it isn’t overpowering in the slightest. Herring isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, and, as Petersen takes away our plates, he notes that he once had guests from the Midwest trying herring for the first time, who looked at it and asked incredulously: “Raw fish?!”
After our fill of seafood, we transitioned to a spicier New York lager to prepare us for the next dish: a Rimmed and honey-glazed pork with pan-fried apples and currants, and a Lightly-grilled beef fillet with Dijon and perhaps the most delicious and fresh horseradish I’ve ever tasted. The transition from the lager to the King’s County Brown, a much darker beer, was paced perfectly from the pork to the beef.
Our last dish was Vesterhavsost, a hard cheese that farmers from northwestern Jutland had just started to make, and it was complemented by a Spiced quince compote. The final ale was an IPA that had surprising sparkle and spice, and it was perfect preparation for the rich, sweet taste of the pièce de résistance: the Chocolate macaron. Served with a vintage dessert cherry wine that comes from the Frederiksdal estate on the island of Lolland, the combination of the decadent chocolate and the semi-sweetness of the wine was about as perfect as it gets.
Luckily, this menu is running for a few more days – until Thursday 28 February. “We see a lot more people during this month that we wouldn’t normally see,” explains Petersen. “Especially foreigners coming to Copenhagen to dine out.” And it’s no surprise when menus like ‘Smørrebrød with a Twist’ offer such a wide range of both classical elements and unorthodox combinations. By utilising local brews and cheeses and wines, you can really get a sense of what Danish culinary excellence is all about – with a twist.
Smørrebrød with a Twist
Restaurant Kronborg, Brolæggerstæde 12, Cph K
Ends Feb 28, closed Sun, 11:00-17:00
Tickets: lunch platter 215kr, beer menu 150kr
Reservations: firstname.lastname@example.org; www.restaurantkronborg.dk