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Restaurant Cofoco

When to eat

Where eating is concerned, you’d better start setting your alarm clock back in increments of 10 if you want to get yourself onto a useful Danish timetable – this lot are early risers and as such, early eaters. Rush hour kicks off at 7 in the morning, with lunch swiftly following between 11am and peaking between 12 and 13. With that said, it’s hardly surprising that some locals choose to dine as early as 17.

Come the weekend, the most coveted dinner reservations are at 19, but if you’re already panicking about how to fill the hours between eating and hitting the bar don’t worry – meals can be a long, drawn-out affair, often stretching to three or four hours, so schedule your night accordingly.

If you’re arriving late or getting a terrible case of the midnight munchies you’d better run for it – few restaurants will seat anyone past 21, and the only options you’ll be left with are a McDonalds or a 7-11.

The smørrebrød

If anyone can make a performance out of the humble sarnie, it’s the Danes. Call them glorified sandwiches if you like, but the smørrebrød is the most traditional of the Danish foods. There’s an art to combining, layering and presenting the ingredients of these sumptuous open-faced sandwiches, whilst some simply eat them as an excuse to knock down greedy amounts of the accompanying akvavit; herbal snaps best consumed ice cold. Try some at any of our recommended restaurants for local fare, and don’t leave without trying the classics:

  • Flæskesteg – slices of roast pork with crispy skin, garnished with pickled red cabbage, pickled cucumber slices and often remoulade (a sweet-sour pickled mayonnaise)
  • Fiskefilet –fried, breaded red sole, garnished with lettuce, lemon, remoulade, and often capers and horseradish
  • Røget ål med røræg – smoked eel, garnished with scrambled egg and chives
  • Dyrelægens natmad – liver pate, garnished with stock jelly and roasted onions, and topped with a slice of salt beef

Street food

Don’t deny yourself the pleasure of sampling a hotdog from one of the ubiquitous pølsevogn stands scattered around town, but know that once you’ve tried one, it’ll be hard to ever walk past another without stopping.

And do step into a bakery – just about any will do – and see what a real Danish (called wienerbrød here) tastes like. Available in different varieties, ask for a spandauer med syltetøj, an overskåren med creme or a kanelsnegl, and you won’t go away disappointed.

Gourmet and New Nordic dining

Noma may have been voted the world’s best restaurant, but there’s much more to fine dining in Copenhagen. With a dozen Michelin-starred restaurants in the Danish capital alone, René Redzepi’s Nordic restaurant has plenty of worthy company, not least from his alumni like former head chef Matthew Orlando's Amass, sous chefs Victor Wågman and Samuel Nutter's Bror, and Christian Puglisi's much vaunted Relæ.

Sample more classic cuisine at Kong Hans Kælder and d'Angleterre's Marchal or get acquainted with the talents of youngers stars like the Berntsen brothers at Clou, Theis Brydegaard at Kadeau and, perhaps the brightest of them all, Rasmus Kofoed at Geranium. And did you know that Copenhagen is home to Kiin Kiin, the world's only Michelin-starred Thai restaurant? Whilst gourmet dining is expensive everywhere, the stiff competition here keeps the price of the set tasting menus in Copenhagen very competitive.

When it doesn't need to be that fancy

There are plenty of cheap places to eat in Copenhagen but for a very nice meal without having to take out a second mortgage, then it's hard to beat either Madklubben or the Cofoco group's restaurant like Höst, Oysters & Grill, and Les Trois Cochons.

For something more sceney, then Fiskebaren and Karrierebar in Kødbyen or Mums and the Simons' Congo in the city center are good bets.

How much

A big contributor to the perception of priceyness is the scarcity of restaurants serving cheap food. On average, Copenhageners tend to have nicer homes than say New Yorkers or Londoners, and as such don’t eat out just for a lack of cooking facilities in their cupboard-like kitchens, rather choosing to trade up for special occasions.

Demanding customers combined with high labour costs don’t make for a cheap eat but, contrary to popular belief, you won’t have to arrange a second mortgage to eat out (and well at that) in Copenhagen, as long as you stick to one rule: skip the wine. Sure you weren’t counting on a detoxing holiday but save the alcohol units for the bars and cut back on the vintages during dinner, and the cost of a nice meal is comparable to other European cities. And, don’t forget, there are no hidden extras: prices are inclusive of all taxes and tips are negligible.

Tipping

Danish waiters are actually paid a decent wage, so whilst some may also be actor/model/whatever hopefuls, it’s not an indicator of their poverty-stricken lifestyles. Although always gladly accepted, tips aren’t expected.

Credit cards

Note that many establishments slap on a hefty surcharge, as high as 1-4%, when paying with a foreign credit card (avoid by paying in cash). Cards other than Visa and Mastercard are often not accepted at all.