The Dark Side of Smørrebrød | Øl & Brød, Copenhagen

Perhaps the dish most identified with traditional danish cuisine is the open faced sandwich known as smørrebrød. It usually consists of dark rye bread, dense with a distinct taste, spread with butter and topped with cold pieces of meat or pickled\smoked fish. The variations are endless.

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When traveling I always like to combine old with new, modern with tradition. I was looking for the perfect place to be acquainted with traditional Danish food and get a sense for the culinary heritage. My research came up with two places: Aamanns and ØL & BRØD, which couldn’t be more different. We wrote about Aamanns here.

ØL & BRØD, which literally means beer & bread, is owned by Mikkeller, the internationally acclaimed micro brewing company. Their ambition is to create a place with “High quality products served by beer-aficionados to be savored in a distinct, minimalistic Mikkeller-esque setting”. They decided to focus on the bread & butter, or beer, in this case, of Danish food. They aim to enable an experience that revolves around good food and beer without compromising either. When a place next to their original bar became available they seized the opportunity to make the dream come true.

Om Nom Nomad - Øl & Brød

As opposed to Aamanns, we arrived at ØL & BRØD to find the place almost empty. It was just us and another couple. The place was furnished with heavy wood, decorated traditionally with plates on the walls and shelves loaded with beer bottles. It felt outdated, kind of like visiting your grandma’s house.
There were candles on the table, but the staff at ØL & BRØD didn’t even bother lighting them up. It’s the small things that make the atmosphere just right, and this wasn’t the case here. The service was also quite awkward. For example, a few minutes after arriving the background music stopped and the only waiter in the restaurant was nowhere to be found, leaving us sitting alone in the restaurant in complete silence for a lengthy period of time.

Om Nom Nomad - Øl & Brød

We started with beer, because what would be more proper in a Mikkeller establishment.  Small Mikkeller sour berliner weisse with raspberry beer (45 kr. / $7 / 25₪) for me and Mikkeller Vesterbrown Ale (45 kr. / $7 / 25₪) for Opher. Both had a tangy aftertaste, and were expensive for 25cl. ØL & BRØD also offer beer pairing.s

Om Nom Nomad - Øl & Brød

The menu includes many different options of smørrebrød; Mustard Herring with poached egg, capers and onions, Roastbeef with “remoulade” and crispy onions, Steak tartar with egg yolk, horseradish and marinated salads and prices range between 90 kr. / $13 / 51₪ and 140 kr. / $20.5 / 79₪. Note that the prices of their webside are not up to date. They also offer a selection of 5 smørrebrød for 300 kr. / $44 / 169.5₪ but we weren’t hungry enough and it included some components that we didn’t care too much for.

Om Nom Nomad - Øl & Brød

We ended up sampling two smørrebrøds:

Neck of pork with mayonnaise, pickled cabbage and pork rinds (105 kr. / $15.5 / 59.5₪) 

Om Nom Nomad - Øl & Brød

Butter fried flounder with mayonnaise, shrimps, crispy rye bread and dill (130 kr. / $19 / 73.5₪) 

Om Nom Nomad - Øl & Brød

The presentation of the dishes wasn’t something to write home about. It’s pricy for what you get – a bread with a piece of fish\meat and some veggies. Both dishes tasted good, but nothing blew us away. The neck of pork was a tad dry and the fish a bit too oily. We both felt slightly disappointed, as if the the place could have been so much better if only someone made some sort of effort. The place, food and service felt tired and neglected, as if it’s driven by inertia and not by passion.

If you compare the two smørrebrød establishments, Øl & Brød and Aamanns, the latter wins hands down. If you’re in town looking for the perfect smørrebrød, head to Aamanns. Øl & Brød was not bad at all, but food-wise, service-wise and atmosphere-wise, Aamanns is the better choice.

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