We knew completely nothing about Danish cuisine when we decided to visit Copenhagen, and to be honest, I think the majority of people in Vancouver have no clue either. So one of our main goals was to try and experience as much Danish food as possible. But where do we begin?
When I did a quick search on Google for Danish Cuisine a Wikipedia article showed up (really these days what doesn’t have a Wikipedia entry any more?). Just my luck! And as I quickly skimmed through the article, a word caught my eye. Smørrebrød. I had no clue what it meant, but the word itself (and the foreign but cool ø looking letter) was enough to peak my interest.
After a couple of hours researching, I found out that Smørrebrød, pronounced as smuhr-bruth (I hope I got that right), is basically an open faced, rye bread based, savory sandwich. The ingredients used as toppings can include, but are not limited to, fish (herring, salmon), meats (beef, deer) and vegetables. It dates back to the 19th century and is traditionally eaten during lunch. Also during my research session, one name always seemed to come up more than others and that was Aamanns.
Chef Adam Aamann puts a fresh, modern and refined twist on the traditional Smørrebrød. Rather than using piles of pre-prepared cold meats or fried fish, he opted for fresh fish and meat with a healthy mix of herbs and vegetables. This is probably the main reason why his Aamanns Etablissement (the sit down restaurant) and Aamanns Smørrebrøds Deli (the take away deli) have become synonymous with Smørrebrød. And this is why we decided to make a lunch reservation at Aamanns Etablissement.
If I were to imagine a traditional Danish lunch spot it would be Aamanns Etablissement. The atmosphere was very inviting and really casual but at the same time it could still cater to the business crowd.
As for the food, we each had an order of the daily Herring Smørrebrød (one pickled herring and one curried herring) and the Smørrebrød platter (one potato, one herring and one deer). All five Smørrebrøds were nicely presented and each were unique in its own way. If I were to choose one as my favourite it would have to be the curried herring. The curry spice, herring, pickled onion and dill was an unexpected combination but it totally worked. If I were to choose one that I did not enjoy as much it would have to be the potato Smørrebrød, which I found a little dry and heavy after having four Smørrebrøds before it.
We also shared an order of the Aamanns Tartare which arrived with a selection of bread slices, butter and lard. The Aamanns Tartare is a traditional beef tartar but served with a healthy dose of fried black salsify, mustard cream, tarragon, capers, gherkins and shallots. For my taste, I found that there were to many gherkins on the dish, but the quality and taste of the beef more than made up for it.
Fitting with the restaurant design, the service at Aamanns Etablissement was relaxed and casual. The servers were attentive, quick and were able to answer all our questions regarding the dishes and how to pronounce Smørrebrød properly.
Looking back at that lunch, it was definitely the right decision to dine at Aamanns. Smørrebrød is truly something unique to the Danish, and I am really glad and appreciative that we were able to experience some part of Danish cuisine and culture in this way.
To view pictures of our meal in its entirety, click through the photo set below. If you are using a mobile device, please click here for compatibility.
Thanks for reading,
S & C