Sandwiches are unique to Danish cuisine. Even though the Swedes have their smörgås, it’s a type of food that needs to be enjoyed in Denmark – preferably in Copenhagen. This is the opinion held by Danes and not a few Swedes.
Smørrebrød – the open-face sandwich
Smørrebrød for dummies
The pickled-herring sandwich (sildemad)
For many people, the pickled-herring sandwich is Danish cuisine’s biggest test. You just have to get used to its consistency. But an authentic Danish lunch always begins with it. Karrysild – a herring sandwich variant involving a curry marinade – slips more easily down the throat.
Liver pâté (leverpostej)
Liver pâté is a mixture of pork liver, lard, onion, flour, egg, salt, pepper and spices. It’s often served slightly warmed and topped with pickles.
Remoulade – on breaded fish or roast beef
A fairly significant component of Danish smørrebrød is the Danish remoulade, which has quite a penetrating flavour. You’ll encounter it on top of a roast-beef sandwich or breaded fish (i.e. a fillet of fish).
The ‘shooting star’ (stjerneskud)
An alternative to breaded fish with remoulade is the so-called ‘shooting star’. Here the fish is topped with shrimps, white asparagus and black lumpfish caviar.
Eggs and shrimps
Another sandwich classic is hard-boiled eggs topped with prawns and mayonnaise. Alternatively, you can try an egg sandwich, which is often made with white bread.
Cheese – young or aged
In principle, you will always find relatively mild cheeses being served at the end of a Danish lunch. But in some places you will find ‘old cheese’ – in other words, cheese that has been well matured – existing as a separate item on the menu. True hard-core aficionados consume this with pork lard, raw onions, ‘sky’ (a mixture of beef stock and starch akin to aspic) and a small glass of dark rum in addition to the actual cheese. Don’t expect any kisses from your spouse after lunch…
Sandwiches should of course be enjoyed with a draught beer and a single snaps.
Almanak is one of those places that has brought Danish smørrebrød up to a new level – ever since they opened, they’ve been getting rave reviews from Copenhagen’s daily papers. Yet their prices are in the moderate middle range. It also makes a great alternative to a lunch in Nyhavn, as you’ll get a bit more harbour and somewhat less in the way of crowds for your money. Almanak is located in The Standard, which is the iconic former ferry terminal for Sweden.
Address Almanak, Havnegade 44
Close to Strøget and Rådhuspladsen you’ll find another lunch restaurant that serves authentic smørrebrød – in other words, Danish open sandwiches. Restaurant Kronborg offers a flavourful, classic Danish lunch that settles comfortably in the stomach, plus high-quality beverages and coffee that is brewed with great attention to detail. It’s a highly authentic venue which features Royal Copenhagen fluted floral plates that are perfectly à propos.
Husmann’s Vinstue is a highly traditional purveyor of smørrebrød located very close to Rådhuspladsen, and in the first instance you might suppose that not much has changed here since it opened in 1888. But that’s not the case. Until 1912, women were forbidden to enter the place; today, everyone is welcome. It can be a good idea to order a table.