On a recent trip to Denmark, Hannerie Visser set herself a challenge – to see at how many Noma off-shoots (eateries started by former staff) she could eat at in the three days she planned to stay in Copenhagen. This is her story…
Every time I travel to Copenhagen, I put my name on the waiting list to eat at Noma, the world’s best restaurant (okay, they’re officially in the number–2 spot on the current World 50 Best Restaurants list, but we all know they’re really in the top spot). And never have I managed to get a reservation.
About two weeks before my trip, one evening with laptop in bed, I receive a new mail with the subject: Restaurant Noma. The mail reads: “You joined the waitlist for a reservation at Noma on Tuesday 25 June 2019. There may now be availability at 19:00.”
I honestly did not know how I would afford this dinner, but I’ve always promised myself if ever I get the opportunity to book, I will make a plan. So 10 minutes later, heart pounding, I had secured a booking for myself, as well as for my recently retired now crime novelist aunt, Irna.
Hours of research and Excel spreadsheets, attending the MAD food festival, organised by the Noma team (I’m a fan, can you tell?) and years of Instagram stalking have all prepared me to create the perfect food itinerary for three days in Copenhagen.
Watching countless of their Instagram stories made eating their Marmite Blondie the first priority on arrival.
Richard Hart is the owner and baker of this neighbourhood bakery – with the coolest branding I have ever seen.
Richard moved to Copenhagen over two years ago from San Francisco in the US, where he had spent the previous seven years working as head baker at the internationally acclaimed Tartine bakery.
He opened Hart Bageri with René Redzepi, owner and chef at Noma, and is on a mission to convert the rye bread-loving Danes to sourdough.
The next stop is Gasoline Grill, famous for the organic burgers and featuring on most “world best burger” lists.
There are a few Gasoline Grills in Copenhagen, all in very unexpected locations, including a former gas station and a station platform.
Don’t let the long waiting lines scare you away – the burger is worth it. And make it count by ordering the Butterburger (yes, it’s one word and yes, it’s an actual burger with a big dollop of butter instead of cheese).
Also, don’t forget to order fries. Because they carefully plan their production each day to reduce food waste, they make sure they sell out every day, thereby also guaranteeing super fresh burgers.
Off to Jaegersborgade (“gade” means street in Danish) to have coffee at Coffee Collective, a coffee shop that is also a roaster. They support and buy directly from coffee farmers. Be sure to also buy some beans to take home.
Manfreds is the plant-forward natural wine bar, ironically, famous for their steak tartare, owned by chef Christian Puglisi. Ask the waiter about buying one of their famous steak tartare tote bags – they’re normally hidden behind the bar.
At Sanchez Cantina – owned by Rosio Sanchez, former pastry chef at Noma – you get all the Mexican classics, but with Rosio’s personal flair. They serve up from tacos to paletas, combining Mexican and Nordic produce.
Definitely save space for their famous – and very Instagrammable – churro sandwich. If you run out of time, or can’t get a booking, go past Torvehallerne, Copenhagen’s famous food market, where you can find their small taqueria serving tacos from 11:00 in summer.
You simply cannot leave Copenhagen without eating one of their tacos. They get corn from Oaxaca to make their own masa and all their tortillas are freshly made. Who said you can’t have tacos for breakfast?
At BÆST, also owned by Christina Puglisi, they only use local organic produce. Instead of importing mozzarella, they make it themselves with raw milk.
Their 16 cows graze at their farm, Farm of Ideas, just 50 km from the restaurant. They stretch the cheese by hand several times a day. It will ruin other pizza for you forever, but treat yourself!
Just do it. Start saving and put your name on that waiting list. Just maybe the food gods will smile one you and you can tick the biggest tick off any food lover’s bucket list. You can join the waitlist by following the reservations link on the website.
When To Go
Copenhagen is beautiful year round. Even though it’s cold in winter, the Christmas magic will more than make up for frosty days and the lack of daylight.
Where To Stay
Rooms per night start at:
Citizen M: 1 003.50 DKK
Radisson Blu Royal: 1 435.50 DKK
71 Nyhavn Hotel: 1 700 DKK
Marriott Copenhagen: 3 950 DKK
Copenhagen can be expensive. Expect to pay from 85 DKK (R185) for a glass of wine and around 45 DKK (R98) for a beer.
Though the bus and metro services are great, Copenhagen is a cycling city.
You can use the Donkey Republic app to locate bicycles close to you and use them for as little as a few minutes or a couple of days at a time, whatever your preference.
SAA flies daily to Copenhagen from Johannesburg and Cape Town. Or, catch a connecting flight to Copenhagen with a codeshare partner and fellow Star Alliance member from most European cities.