Restaurant Review: Oi Hamlet! On the question of being wasteful ... theres the Rub!
Nothing goes to waste at Spisehuset Rub & Stub – there is even a note at the bar encouraging the guests to ask for a doggy bag if they can’t eat all their food! ‘At spise rub og stub’ means to eat everything down to the last crumb, and that is exactly what the restaurant wishes its guests to do. Opened in the middle of September by a group of students and entrepreneurs outraged by the huge amount of edible food discarded by the food industry, Rub & Stub is dedicated to reducing food waste.
Every year the food industry discards 300,000 tonnes of edible food that the shops can’t sell. It was this that sparked the idea to open the first restaurant in Copenhagen that distinguishes itself by only having ‘unwanted’ food on its menu. “Many of us have worked in catering centres during our time in college and have been horrified to see the extreme amount of food going to waste every day. This experience coupled with the knowledge that so many people in the world are starving was what gave us the idea for Rub & Stub,” explained Sophie Marie Sales, one of the driving forces behind the restaurant.
Rub & Stub is still building up its network of suppliers and has had to buy some of its food to get started, but in the long run – through partnerships with manufacturers, supermarkets and other companies – dishes will be made predominantly from the industry’s hidden waste.
The idealism, however, doesn’t stop here. Rub & Stub is part of the RETRO Association – an organisation of volunteers in Copenhagen started in 2004 that also runs the popular Café Retro on Knabrostræde – and is developed and run almost entirely by volunteers. The only paid staff are a kitchen leader and a project manager who have been hired in order to support the volunteers’ work and ensure a professional profile. All economic surplus from the restaurant goes to charity.
All of this is very well, you might think, but is discarded food really worth eating? Well, it is! It is important to note that discarded food does not mean food that has gone off or been thrown away. It is simply food that shops can’t sell for various reasons, such as funny-shaped vegetables, surplus seasonal produce etc. Everything is completely fresh and edible, but because the restaurant never knows what it will get donated from day to day, the menu is never the same.
When I and my companion turned up on a random Tuesday night in November there were four dishes on the menu: a veggie soup (55kr), a bacon and spinach pie (80kr), a tapas selection (130kr) and an apple trifle (55kr). My companion chose the pie and I went for the tapas. For starters, without extra charge, we were served warm bread and pesto and I had a glass of Italian Sangiovesse red wine (45kr), while my companion went for the French Merlot (35kr). Both the wines and the bread with pesto were very tasty indeed.
The restaurant itself, which is part of ‘Huset i Magstræde’ (a culture house that hosts many concerts), is both cosy and casual with friendly service and ‘70s retro décor. The assortment of retro lamps, the stained glass windows and the candles on the tables give the place a homely feel – similar to Café Retro.
The food itself was – just like the place – nice and homely. The pie, served with a small salad, was slightly dry, but had a nice crunch and taste to it. My tapas selection consisted of salmon mousse, slices of duck breast with sundried tomatoes, polenta with baba ghanoush (aubergine dip) and ham. It was all very tasty – particularly the polenta with baba ghanoush. We had the apple trifle for dessert: a mix of apples, cream and crunchy seeds, which was just like your granny might make.
If it’s a gourmet experience you’re after, then this is probably not for you, but if, on the other hand, you are looking for a nice, casual meal that will fill you without breaking the bank, then you could do a lot worse than Rub & Stub. The fact that you’re helping to reduce food waste and supporting a good cause is an added bonus that will simply make your visit even more enjoyable.
Rådhusstræde 13, 1th, Cph K
6133 6348, firstname.lastname@example.org
Open: Tue-Thu 17:00-23:00, Fri 16:00-24:00, Sat 17:00-24:00, closed Sun-Mon
Top Dish: Tapas selection
Price Range: all dishes 80-130kr