I’ve ranted about Restaurant Week in the past here (which I won’t repeat), so when Tablehopping approached me to talk about their sort of anti-Restaurant Week, my ears perked up. They curated a small list of wonderful restaurants around the city to offer a special menu – called the “Tastemakers Menu” from March 2 – March 15. I was lucky enough to be chosen to preview the incredible menu at The Copenhagen – a lovely Danish restaurant in Tribeca, right outside the A/C/E Canal Street station.
Yes, Danish! I verified with the chef that this was Danish food, not Scandinavian, not Swedish and Danish, or French-influenced. This was straight up Danish food – and Chef Jesper Wurtz, who took the helm roughly a month ago, is himself Danish. Born and raised in Denmark, the passion in his voice as he described each course to us, explaining what makes it special, what makes it markedly Danish – was incredible. I find passion in one’s work not just important, but necessary for success… and Chef Wurtz has it in spades. He described with love the process of making Danish meatballs, and what makes them better than Swedish meatballs; how his father was a chef, and how important food was throughout his entire life.
I previewed the lunch menu, which is $25 for 3 lovely courses.
First: smorrebrod, which Chef Jesper explained is Danish to its very soul. This particular smorrebrod was a slice of housemade rye bread topped with cured salmon, lightly pickled cucumber, fresh dill, pickled onions and ‘dill caviar’ or gelatinized dill puree. Amazingly light while still satisfying: the perfect start.
Fried herring with a soft boiled quail egg, radish, frizzled shallots, capers and pickled onions; another wonderful snack to help kick things off.
More slices of the housemade rye, and sourdough rolls. While the rye was fantastically nutty, the sourdough roll stole my heart: airy, chewy, and slightly sour and yeasty, I tore into mine and tried to steal my dining partner’s – he was not amused. So good, no need for butter!
I need you to stop everything you’re doing right now and look at these photos that don’t do the Danish meatballs their justice. My dining companion declared these “the very best meatballs” he’d ever eaten, of any sort. I’m not quite so generous, but these are definitely up there. Soft, tender, delicious, with this incredible flavor – a mixture of pork and veal, nutmeg, and lots of onion (which, if you’re familiar, is very much like the Swedish meatball) – but the texture was just amazing. Served with fingerling potatoes and lingonberry jam, then a light hand with the simple gravy (which is made by deglazing the pan that cooked the meatballs using flour and butter, a bit of milk I believe)… I wanted to lick the plate.
Lick the plate, people. No one’s looking, and if you don’t, you’ll regret it for weeks.
Pardon me while I weep gently at the thought of my unlicked plate.
When Chef Jesper saw my face light up while he described the Danish cheeses he had available, he decided to send out a cheese plate (some of the cheeses are available as part of the Tastemakers’ dinner menu). The cheeses themselves were lovely, but I’m always most impressed by the accompaniments: fried barley puffs, jams, pear puree… thoughtful touches that make the cheese experience that much more wonderful.
As for our actual dessert – a wonderful apple compote-type on the bottom of a glass, topped with crumbles of rye, and a lightly sweetened, softly whipped cream. Delicious and a nice end to a great meal.
There is no reason for you not to head over to The Copenhagen and check out the beautiful space – floor to ceiling windows, gorgeous light, minimalist decor, and friendly service. The special menus run from March 2 – March 15, making it a complete bargain to check out now! My friend and I were able to tour the kitchen and check out the dough starters they have – brought over from Denmark. Just incredible.
Let me know if you do try it – it all was so delicious!
Please note that I received this meal courtesy of Tablehopping/The Copenhagen, but was under no obligation to post about it positively or negatively. Opinions expressed herein are my own; I received no monetary compensation.