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.
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 ØL & BRØD here.
As opposed to ØL & BRØD, when we came to Aamanns the place was lively and most tables were full. The patrons in the restaurant couldn’t be more different – two old danish ladies, a few professors from all over Europe, Asian tourists and some couples. It looks modern and well kept, with little details being taken care of like lit candles on all the tables. It’s the small things that make the atmosphere just right.
The menu at Aamanns takes the classical smørrebrød and elevates it even further. Lunch here is served on Monday to Friday between 12:00 to 16:00 and on Saturday and Sunday between 11:30 to 16:00. It’s a big plus they open on Monday, since many restaurants in Copenhagen are closed this day. However, if you plan on visiting here on that day note that they do not serve fish because they can’t get fresh fish on Monday. Not only does the restaurant inform its customers about this when ordering, the fact that they actively make a decision not to serve a dish with frozen fish is praiseworthy.
You can order a-la-carte but Aamanns offer a set lunch for (a minimum of) two people for (295 kr. / $43 / 166₪). It’s pretty expensive but given the quality of the ingredients and the amount of food you get, it’s well worth it.
At first we each received FRIED HERRING with smoked vinegar, elderflower pickled, pumpkin, smoked cheese and hay ash. The dish was splendid! The fish was on the sweet side and all the other ingredients were excellent, complementing the herring.
Then came the butter accompanied by fat of duck and pork and bacon and shortly after the enormous chop board piled on with various delicacies.
The plate was so vibrant, colorful and creative and the smell was absolutely amazing. It’s hard to convey the size of the thing in pictures. Each piece looked like a work of art.
So what do we have here:
COLD SMOKED ICELANDIC SALMON with pickled onions, lingonberries, drained junket, radish, crisp rye crumbs and dill
CAULIFLOWER AND EGG with pickled red onions, lemon zest, marjoram and almonds
GRILLED RUMP STEAK with steak from Grambogård with béarnaise crème, fried mushrooms, pickled cucumber and fried potatoes
BEEF TARTARE with beef from Grambogård, blackberries, tarragon emulsion, shallots and hazelnuts
CHICKEN SALAD with apples, pickled radishes, leak ash and chicken skin
Everything was excellent. We highly enjoyed all the dishes, each highlighting a different protein and combining various vegetables and condiments to create a perfect bite.
We were a bit overwhelmed by the amount of food we got, and as tasty as everything was we were just full before finishing even half of it. We asked whether we can pack the rest to go and were denied, which is surprising considering they have a deli next door which specializes, well, in packing food to go. This was a bit disappointing, especially given the price of the meal. We’re used to the fact that every restaurant in Tel Aviv will offer to pack the leftovers (which you already paid for), but I guess you can chalk it up to a cultural difference. Also annoying is the charge (50 kr. / $7 / 28₪) for tap water, but this isn’t unique to Aamanns. Rather, this is a quite a common thing in Copenhagen.
We greatly enjoyed our time at Aamanns. Everything was spot on, from the friendly and attentive service, to the chill vibe and the outstanding food. If you’re in town looking for a modern take on traditional smørrebrød we highly recommend visiting Aamanns. Make sure you come hungry!