A celebration of culinary endeavour in the old cellar

La Vecchia Enoteca … doesn’t the mere sound of this name transport you to a place where food is art and dining is pure pleasure for all the senses? I certainly had big expectations for the restaurant that bears this name, but the experience I ended up having was something that so rarely happens: when your expectations are greatly surpassed.

La Vecchia Enoteca was for many reasons exactly the kind of restaurant I was looking to write about here: small enough to give you a cosy feeling when inside; remote enough to not be over-popular or in danger of becoming so, but still easy to find; and maybe most importantly, one that seeks to promote wine as the central element of the dinner. Its name directly translates as ‘the old cellar’, which immediately brings to mind the wide selection of fine wines served to complement its dishes.

As one of six fine dining restaurants owned by Spisitaliensk, it is arguably the company’s best-kept secret, most probably due to its location. Serving a neighbourhood just outside of Copenhagen, it is located on Søengen, just minutes away by foot from Holte Station. Nevertheless, it’s fair to say that the chic wine restaurant is buzzing every night.

If I were to make one negative remark about the place, it would definitely be the noise. This isn’t helped by the location, as there are no separate sections – once you enter, what you see is what you get. Just a few tables to the left, and a few to the right  – once you’ve walked past a couple more, you’re already at the counter, a hive of activity where they serve a mini-buffet for brunch, available once it opens its doors at noon.

My companion and I were lucky enough to be welcomed to stay right up to closing time at 23:00 (kitchen closes at 22:00 on weekdays), which we saw in with a couple of old Danish patrons discussing personal beliefs that are strongest felt after a few too many glasses of good wine! In the meantime we witnessed a great variety of people pass through its doors: well-to-do locals, young and elderly couples, families and friends, and a girls’ night out. It’s clear that the restaurant does not target a certain demographic, but rather those who appreciate the restaurant’s ethos on food.

Serving a menu that changes every couple of months or so, the dishes combine Scandinavian and British twists into Italian recipes. Everything is freshly made in-house (I still cannot get that amazing rye bread out of my head!) or imported directly from selected producers (like the delicious creamy Italian goat’s cheese that made my goat’s cheese hating friend beg for more!).

The chef’s ambition is to change the way people typically visit a restaurant and choose the a la carte classics. While he knows that many will hold onto their preferences for dishes like the Linguini with lobster or the Veal with tuna sauce and capers, to name only a couple, the chef is hopeful he can entice them with his own ecologically-made signature dishes.

Take his smoked salmon for instance! This Scandinavian specialty is brought in from nearby waters and is smoked using a special process right next to the restaurant, under the chef’s careful supervision. The taste is sublime, but if you don’t like your fish smoked, try the cod fish – its ingenious combination with pickled winter vegetables really makes it stand out!

But however good the food might be, some people like to use it as an excuse to have dessert. If you have a sweet-tooth, then you will be blown away by the complementary chocolates that Chef lays out for you next to the coffee and the star dessert of this restaurant: the Tiramisu with pineapple sorbet!

To say that I spent five hours in this restaurant eating and drinking would be a sinful understatement of what I actually did. It was the closest I’ve ever come to a gourmet out-of-body experience. And by the time I’d floated back down to earth, it was fair to say that my views on food had changed forever.

La Vecchia Enoteca
Søengen 1, Holte; 4542 2242
Open: Mon-Thu 12:00-22:00,
Fri-Sat 12:00-22:30, Sun 11:00-22:00 (Sun brunch 11:00-13:00)
Cuisine: Italian with a twist
Top Dish: the amazing rye bread
Price Range: Three-course set menu 299kr


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