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Wednesday 15 October 2014

Denmark in a day (or 3!) - Copenhagen - Smørrebrøds! Aamann's and Restaurant Schønnemann Part 2!

In our 5 part series that covered the few days we had eating and exploring Copenhagen, Denmark.. we covered in Part 1 - hotdogs, icecream and snacks, and now its on to the Smørrebrøds! Smørrebrøds are delicious open faced sandwiches with local, traditional ingredients on a slice of (usually) rye bread and served with subtle and knock your socks off homemade schnapps!  While there's probably hundreds of places to have Smørrebrøds in Copenhagen, with limited travel time and tummy space, we focused on the two best places to eat it... Michelin Guide-recommended Aaman's which has a more modern spin thanks to Chef Adam Aamann and his team (Address: Øster Farimagsgade 10, 2100 København Ø ), and Restaurant Schønnemann, serving traditional fare since 1877 (Address: Hauser Plads 16, 1127 København K).  Since "best" is very subjective, we had to try them both.. for comparison's sake :)

Aamann's Deli Og Take Away
Tucked away close to a residential area, it took us a bit of walking and back tracking to find it as we weren't used to looking for road signs on the side of buildings (first day and jet lagged, so we cut ourselves some slack).. we nearly jumped for joy (we were hungry and had worked up an appetite) when we saw their sign:

You step into a bright and sunny space with light woods, big windows, self serve drinks on the side and a shelf full of goodies they make you can purchase to bring home.  Service was a bit on the slow side that day as they were down a staff member.  We saw plenty of families cuing up to order take away while we waited for our food... with daily specials and a discount for take-out, its no surprise the take-out line was always long! Things had just cleared out briefly when I took this shot in the mid-afternoon.
Its always more fun when you can't read a twig of what you're drinking... luckily, the waitstaff do speak English and we tried some bottled ginger ale and Hylderus (Elderflower).  Both were light and refreshing without being too strongly flavored. The gingerale we enjoyed more, while the elderflower tasted like slightly acidic cider.

the FOOD
We tried a total of four Smørrebrøds, though there were many more beef, pork, chicken, vegetarian and cheese versions we didn't have room to try. When they came out, the beautifully presented Smørrebrøds was drools-ville.

The Salted Icelandic salmon with picked green tomatoes, smoked cheese, dill and rye crumbs disappeared like magic.  The cured salmon was rich, creamy and just melted in your mouth.  The other toppers worked well together and added in acidic, smokey and textural elements, but I could have spent an afternoon noshing on an entire fillet and be completely content... nom!

The Grambogaard beef tartare with mushroom emulsion, cornichons, shallots, pickled beech mushroom, crisp potato chips and cress was another winner that we devoured in record time.  The beef had sweet notes, but strangely the star of the show was the mushroom emulsion that tied everything together and the pickled beech mushrooms.. delicious!

The Grasten chicken salad with celery, apples, little gem salad and crisp chicken skin was the weakest of the four Smørrebrøds we chose.  While there was a generous amount of chicken in the chicken salad, it came off as rather bland.  Brining, then roasting the chicken and adding in diced pickles and fresh herbs would improve it significantly, but chicken salads tend to be on the bland side in Copenhagen, so perhaps that's how they like it.

The Matured icelandic herring in elderflower with apples, whipped sour slaw, crispy rye bread and watercress was also a winner in the flavor department with excellent quality herring paired with flavors that was harmonious and delectable.

We couldn't leave without trying at least one of their homemade schnapps despite being gut-bustingly full- we had their "Rye" flavored one, and while it packed enough alcoholic punch to make you blink, it had a wonderful aftertaste of freshly baked rye bread!

The next day, we had lunch at Restaurant Schønnemanns
Located just in the heart of the Old City, and across from a raised playground, we found them as we got used to navigating their pretty but curvy streets.

The restaurant practically oozes charm and history with a wooden beamed ceiling, oak panels, green walls, crisp white tablecloths and  kitschy knicknacks decorating the walls.  We went for a late lunch and luckily didn't require a reservation.

My boyfriend went with an excellent sweet and malty nut brown Schønnemann's lager beer

While I went with some still water (bubbles take up valuable stomach realty space) and a Crowberry snaps (schnapps) that was supposed to have a strong berry taste followed by a honey-like sweetness - it was a kick in the teeth of strong spirits that left me blinking, and I wasn't able to taste any berry or sweet notes.

the FOOD

We ordered a total of four Smørrebrøds out of the hundreds of beef, chicken, seafood, and vegetarian choices... and did not realize each serving of Smørrebrød was the size of the plate! We almost finished everything, but I have no idea how anyone could possibly eat four Smørrebrøds that's suggested in the menu without exploding.  The Madam Schønnemann- rye bread with dijon butter, boiled salted veal tongue, chicken salad, watercress garnish was one of the first we tried.  The chicken salad, while generous in volume was bland and could have used some pickles or fresh herbs to liven it up.  The veal tongue... was amazing!! Tender and mild, next time we'll definetely get one with only the amazing veal tongue they have!

The Havfruen (the Mermaid) - Daniel Letz smoked salmon, smoked halibut, crayfish tail salad, lime, dill on white bread was a very busy and very full plate.  Separately the smoked salmon and smoked halibut are killer delicious, and the crayfish salad was a bit on the heavy side but still tasty.  Next time I'll order them separately as each component stands well on its own, but a bit muddled all piled together in a mountain of food.

The Butcher Jens Steak Tartar - beef tartar mixed with mustard, XO Xognac, secret spices, served with fried rye bread, onions, capers and a raw egg yolk was hands down the winner of the four Smørrebrøds we picked.  

The tartar was the perfect balance of salty, sweet, savory, tangy and downright amazing delicious with the egg yolk providing a good dallop of richness to the tartar.  The fried rye bread added in just the right amount of crunch and made for handy scoops.  I was surprised they didn't use a quail egg yolk, but a large chicken egg yolk - things worked out beautifully in the end

And there you have it.. the two best modern and traditional Smørrebrød restaurants in Copenhagen.. mmmm! Now off to walk to Nyhavn canal to walk off all this food!

Stay tuned for...
Part 3 - The Torvehallerne farmer's market, Israels Plads outdoor produce stalls where we picked up the deliciously sweet tinny (wild?) strawberries!

Part 4 - Andersen Bakery, where you can pick up traditional baked goods - they provide the sweets for the Michelin star restaurant attached to it - Nimb.

And Part 5 Delicious restaurants lining the Nyhavn canal!

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