'When in Rome' as the much mis-quoted saying goes, 'Do as the Romans do'. With this in mind, when I had a few days in Copenhagen with nothing much to occupy my time, I asked the most obvious person I could think of for advice on a good place to eat in Denmark's capital- Rene Redzepi. From the few places he mentioned, this was the one he glowed about when talking of it. It seems Rene and his staff pop in regularly, and the team at Fiskebaren contains the obligatory-for-Copenhagen few members of ex-Noma staff.
Leaving it my traditionally cool amount of lateness, I called Fiskebaren at 2pm to try and book for that evening- a Saturday. I know, I know, who books a Saturday dinner table on Saturday afternoon? The very polite response from the charming young lady on the phone was that they were fully booked, but that there are no bookings on the bar, so I was told to just turn up and wait, or be there at six when they open as there are usually less people around and thus less of a wait. Bingo.
So, following the second scariest taxi ride of my life, with someone who had clearly been in Copenhagen less time than myself (The scariest was in Milan, but thats for another day...) I turned up in the meat packing district of Copenhagen a little after six and easily found 'Kodbyens Fiskebaren', to give it its full title.
Even though it was only a little after opening, the bar was already full, showing its popularity- bear in mind that this was a chilly saturday in april. The bar is split into two sides though, the one side is kind of like a waiting room, where you can still sit and have a drink, or even a couple of the cold dishes from the menu, and the other side is more like part of the main restaurant, where you can order from the full menu.
Whilst waiting on the 'cold' side of the bar, I ordered a couple of the small, tapas style dishes- The scallops and the lumpfish roe dishes.
Of the cold dishes I tried, this was my favourite. Billed as 'lumpfish roe, smoked cheese, cucumber, crisp potato shell', the simplicity of the description could have led the mind anywhere, but as I sat anticipating its arrival, I imagined something very similar to the dish that arrived- a huge pile of the salty roe, balls of cucumber centres, fried potato skins and a slick of smooth, smoky cream cheese. making a graceful addition to the plate was a long potato crisp, dusted with smoked salt. Again, brilliant balance of flavour, and a wonderful range of textures. the soft roe like a beginner's caviare, scooped up in one of the potato skin pieces and smeared with the smoky cream cheese is my idea of heaven. If the rest of the menu wasn't so tempting, I would have sat and ordered this again and again.
Making the move around to the 'proper' side of the bar, I was once again presented with the menu and wine list, and again ordered two dishes at once. Like a classic tapas bar, you can order as much or as little as you want, in whatever stages suit you. When items are ready, they are brought to you, so you have something in front of you while you wait for the rest, or if you don't wish to hurry, order one at a time- a great way to eat in my opinion.
Having ordered a hot and a cold dish at the same time, the cold oysters showed up first, one of each type they serve- Danish fjord oyster, and three from brittany- perle noir, fines and speciales de gillardeau. I was surprised at the distinct difference in flavour, texture and minerality of the four types, having previously only having had one type in one serving before. The condiment which came with the oysters was a perfect balance of sweetness, acidity and fresh herbal flavour and was a mix of celery vinegar, diced apple and dill oil.
Just as I slurped my last oyster, a beautiful dish of plaice, white wine, almonds and eggs arrived. baked on the bone, then filleted, the fish was at the point of being cooked which all chefs love, moist, yet firm, and full of taste. the accompaniments worked well, and the salsify rolled in fried citrus rye bread crumbs was fantastic. When I look back at the rest of the menu, I'm almost surprised I ordered the dish, but looking back at the photos, I'm glad I did. The warm sweet almonds and the soft yolk mixed into the rich beurre blanc, and created a very special sauce. A lovely, surprising dish.
|Fish and chips|
|Fish and chips|
|Fish and chips|
Feeling pretty full by now, with a couple of glasses of wine and the above food doing its work, I risked a dessert. There are only three sweet options at the end of the meal, or a cheeseboard. The one I chose was on the menu as 'Mutzo apples in textures, aquavit, dill.' What arrived was a very modern looking assembly of apple ice cream, dill granité, warm brown sugar meringue, crunchy apple crisp, raw apple, fresh dill, apple biscuit crumb and a caramelised apple purée. The perfect end to a meal like this, and technically spot on.
As I ate my meal at Fiskebaren, I was sat next to an American lady, who was charming company, and she tried a lot of the dishes which I didn't, and I have to say that they all looked fantastic too, steamed mussels, trout tartare, razor clams and a dish of cod roe I almost fought her for.
Fiskebaren may not get as much attention as Noma, but it is certainly worth a look in while in the City. At a fraction of the price, it is worth thr trip there in its own right.