Part Parisian brothel, part retro antique shop, wholly unique

As the name suggests, Vesterbro Vinstue pitches itself as more of a wine bar than a restaurant, but what if you fancy something solid to go with your pinot noir? Fortunately for those shunning a liquid diet, this Istedgade institution, open since the summer, offers a short but diverse Spanish-inspired menu of dishes that have been designed to be grazed upon while you sip your way through a multitude of wines.

We rocked up on a Friday evening and the place was rammed. Every table, including the one in the 16-seater banqueting room, was occupied, while patrons nestled elbow to elbow along the bar. It was impossible to see past the jumble of legs to the bar, which the artist Tine Helleshøj made from a mishmash of old panels and doors found in the surrounding neighbourhood. The floor too, a mosaic of brightly coloured hand-cut linoleum tiles, was hard to appreciate through the maze of high-tops and Acne boots, yet the overall ambience was impressive.

What was previously a soulless eatery, which primarily survived off the overspill of disconcerting drinkers from Bang & Jensen next door, has been transformed into an atmospheric venue that feels part 19th century Parisian brothel, part retro Danish antique emporium. Bare concrete walls are coated with random paper cuts, prints and wine tasting musings; nautical-style lamps hang low above wooden tables; candles drip over unpolished brass holders; and glass-fronted cabinets shelter bottles of wine. It’s a place you want to settle into. It’s a place where you could huddle around one of the large round tables with a gaggle of mates, but equally book a corner table to seduce a first date.

And if you were to seduce or even sedate a date, the wine menu is ideal. There are currently 50 wines, soon to be bumped to 70, on offer. Thirty are available by the glass, and the prices range from 40 to 100 kroner. We started with the Asso de Jordan, a Spanish sparkling wine that is a non-remarkable but polite introduction to the bolder offerings to come. Our menu selection was swift. Advised to order between two and three dishes each, we plumped for five of the nine, and having moved on to a glass of the terribly named, but surprisingly tasty You Are So Cool wine – a rather murky French blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc – our dishes arrived. In retrospect we wished that we’d asked for a trickle of dishes rather than having them all at once so as to spread out the meal.

Of all the dishes, the best was probably the Slab of beef served medium with caramelised yellow beetroot, and the least exciting, rather predictably, was the Green salad with pear, walnuts, blåskimmel blue cheese and a sherry vinaigrette. A Jerusalem artichoke soup, made with roasted almonds and dill oil, was deliciously creamy and warming – not too thick, not too thin, and with a nice crunch from the nuts and dried apple garnish. The delicate taste and texture of the Salmon tartare was successfully offset by a crust of toasted rugbrød, while the lightly battered calamari proved irresistibly moorish, especially when dipped in the citron mayonnaise, which has been dyed a striking black with squid ink. All of these 85kr dishes were starter-size and when they arrived, they seemed quite puny. Yet due to their richness, they proved surprisingly filling. Five dishes between two left us sated, if not stuffed.

Having now moved on to a glass of the 2010 Cycles Gladiator Zinfandel, it seemed rude not to accompany it with some cheese. Three cheeses, to be precise: Brie, a hard cheese peppered with salt crystals and a Danish blue served with home-made crisp bread and sea-buckthorn chutney. There were also two puds, but these we saved for another time.

All in all, we had a great evening. The atmosphere was brilliant. It was packed, super cosy, trendy without being pretentious, and the staff were friendly, knowledgeable and attentive without being rushed. If my priority was food, then I may choose another venue, but for a fun Friday night this Vesterbro haunt is a sure bet.


Vesterbro Vinstue
Istedgade 128, Cph V; 3325 1080
open: Mon-Thu 16:00-24:00, Fri-Sat 14:00-01:00, closed Sun
Cuisine: Tapas
Top Dish: Beef with beetroot
Price Range: 85kr per dish, 40-100kr per glass of wine

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