Improving with age: this short fat one has come a long way
Still the most funnily-named restaurant in central Copenhagen, ‘The Short Fat One’ continues to charm and impress with great dining opportunities in an atmosphere halfway between classic and informal. While beer connoisseurs might have reasons to prefer Den Tatoverede Enke next door, for my money Den Lille Fede is indisputably the pearl of Boltens Gård. Having eaten there a few times over the last five years, I have been happy to see it retain its youngish feel and fun vibe while gaining ever so subtly in maturity and surefootedness.
The concept in short
Inspired by Mediterranean culinary traditions, whilst also managing a nod to the virtues of Nordic food, Den Lille Fede aims to offer “good food and wine at fair prices”. The concept is straightforward: you choose between a five or seven-course menu, with or without a smartly matched array of wines.
Of course, choosing the wines adds a whole dimension to your gastronomic trip, and I recommend it. On this evening I found, with the tentative exception of one bottle out of seven, that all the wines paired beautifully with the dishes. If you do decide to go for wine, the five or seven dishes will set you back 550 and 798 kroner respectively. However, if five dishes are more than you can eat, you have the option of cherry-picking from among the dishes.
Since my last visit to Den Lille Fede some years back, apparently not much had changed. But the acoustic environment inside had been improved – a worthy adjustment – and the waiting staff, who all performed beautifully, had been replaced as late as May. I was relieved, however, to find the pre-dinner Focaccia bread, tonight with cream cheese, as irresistible as ever.
Generally, the seven courses we enjoyed this evening were sophisticated and exciting in their different ways. Some were delicately contrived, while others had homely elements at the centre. All were charismatic, approachable and delicious.
A veritable masterclass
The Sorrel soup with lovage mayo and garfish toast was a creamy and frothy first act, employing cucumber in a charming way. Next, the Poached egg with grilled asparagus, ramson, buttermilk and ham from Skagen (the country’s northernmost region) had crisp and salt elements that gently anticipated its successor, the Roasted perch with browned Bercy butter, new onions and nettle stock. At this point the dinner was approaching its beatific zenith – the moment when we felt safe in surmising that we had about as much to look forward to as we had just put behind us.
Correctly so. The lovely Salted veal tartar with oyster mayo and burned leaks was almost addictive and gave way to the equally tasty Roasted herb chicken (with an unforgettable fricassee), some Emmental and the sweet Rhubarb dessert with malted wheat ice-cream, baked hops-crème and white chocolate “snow”.
The well-being caused by the room, the ambient music, the agreeable waiters – not to forget the wine and the food – made us feel like we’d been celebrating something. In fact, we hadn’t. The cause for celebration is that Den Lille Fede can still deliver a masterclass in elegant dining with none of the stuffiness you sometimes get.
DEN LILLE FEDE
Store Kongensgade 17, Cph K; open Mon-Sat 17:30-22:00, closed Sun; five-course set menu 325kr, with wine 550kr, seven-courses 448kr, with wine 798kr; 3333 7002, email@example.com, denlillefede.com