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Have you followed the rise and rise of New Nordic cuisine? On a recent trip to Copenhagen we took the opportunity to discover what all the hype is about.
New Nordic cuisine – a brief history
Up until a few years ago my knowledge of Scandinavian food extended to a round blue tin of butter cookies we used to eat at Christmas. They still exist and are quite delicious but are a far cry from the food culture we know as Nordic cuisine.
In the early 2000s, chef Rene Redzepi and professor and entrepreneur Claus Meyer founded the philosophy of New Nordic cuisine. With an emphasis on fresh, local and seasonal produce, this style of cooking prides itself on simplicity and purity of flavours.
Cooking with ingredients native to the Nordic region and using traditional techniques such as smoking are key to the philosophy. This has meant chefs forage for and use ingredients that are now considered unusual but were once commonplace.
The movement is also a response to globalisation and the mass-produced dairy and pork products that changed the face of Danish food production.
New Nordic cuisine is a force that changed not only Danish and Scandinavian restaurant culture but one that has had an important influence on global food trends.
Restaurants and cooks around the world have adopted the philosophy which celebrates local ingredients, techniques and recipes.
New Nordic cuisine in Copenhagen
The New Nordic philosophy was realised in Meyer and Redzepi’s restaurant Noma. The small restaurant is in the Copenhagen district of Christianshavn and holds two Michelin stars. It has consistently been in the top 3 restaurants of the world for over a decade.
As we did not plan to dine there we took a walk around the outside of the restaurant on our trip to Copenhagen. The building itself, an old warehouse, looks quite unassuming until you notice the restaurant’s own beehives and smoking houses. Along with the foodie fans trying to catch a glimpse of the famous head chef Rene Redzepi.
Noma is now one of many restaurants in Copenhagen celebrating New Nordic cuisine. Restaurant Geranium holding three Michelin stars and whose chef Rasmus Koefoed, recognised as the best in the world, is among them.
The cooking style is not restricted to fine dining however and there are many different styles of eateries at different price points featuring the cooking style in Copenhagen.
Here is a great list of New Nordic dining options in Copenhagen.
New Nordic restaurants in Copenhagen
Having arrived in Copenhagen just in time for lunch, we were glad we had chosen an apartment in the Nørrebro neighbourhood. A short walk down Jægersborgadde we found Manfreds, a cosy little restaurant with a self-professed love of vegetables. From a semi-open kitchen, we ate five dishes from the daily Chef’s Choice menu.
Each dish was incredibly well thought through in terms of flavour and texture. Manfred’s is certified as using 90-100% organic produce since 2013 and this respect for the produce used is evident in all the dishes we ate.
It was such a pleasure to eat the wholesome and delicious food with the knowledge so much care was taken over its provenance. The asparagus and mushroom dishes were standouts for me.
White asparagus was a feature of many of our meals in Copenhagen as it was in season and plentiful.
I always think a mark of an excellent restaurant is the freshness and quality of its bread. At Manfreds, bread is an important part of the meal and arrives warm to the table. The restaurant is also well-known for its natural and
The restaurant is also well-known for its natural and biodynamic wine list. We enjoyed a wonderful lunch at Manfreds and recommend a visit if you want to experience casual but excellent dining in Copenhagen. It is the type of restaurant I
We enjoyed a wonderful lunch at Manfreds and recommend a visit if you want to experience casual but excellent dining in Copenhagen. It is the type of restaurant I wish was around the corner from where we live in London.
Manfreds is open from 12:00pm each day
Mielcke & Hurtigkarl
We were celebrating my friend Julia’s significant birthday in Copenhagen so I wanted to dine at a restaurant that was special and representative of the food scene of the city.
Julia is a keen gardener so when it was suggested we dine at Mielcke & Hurtigkal located at the Royal Danish Horticultural Society’s garden at Frederiksberg, it was a moment of serendipity that had to be grabbed. The restaurant is elegant and gives the sense of being inside a garden wonderland.
It is beautiful but in no way stuffy. The emphasis is on an amazing dining experience and that is exactly what we got.
The food at Mielcke & Hurtigkarl is not classically New Nordic as the kitchen takes influence from cuisines around the world.
However, the emphasis on fresh and local ingredients means that the influence of the movement started in Copenhagen is strong. Flavours are clean, pure and fresh and enhance the produce used in each dish.
We chose the five-course tasting menu. This ended up being more like ten courses of extremely beautiful and delicately flavoured food enjoyed over three hours.
I was not expecting to experience Asian flavours but was delighted by some of the dishes that took influence from Vietnamese and Thai cuisine.
My favourite dish of the night, however, was a perfect spear of white asparagus that had been dipped in a mussel reduction and rolled in the freshest of herbs.
I also had to report back to my husband that the razor clam with nuoc cham was an incredible dish. Razor clams are his favourite seafood.
Our meal included mainly vegetable and seafood dishes and was expertly balanced. The desserts were also light and emphasised fruit flavours such berries alongside a sheep’s milk ice cream.
A selection of five green hued macarons, each highlighting a different flavour was our final course. Among them, we tried shiso, lemon verbena and lovage.
This was a special occasion dinner and we really could not fault the food, atmosphere, service or wine. It is a meal we will be talking about for a very long time.
If you are interested in fine dining and would like to discover more about the food scene in Copenhagen, I would strongly recommend a visit.
Thanks to Caroline from Love Live Travel for the fantastic recommendation.
Mielcke and Hurtigkarl is open for dinner from 6pm Tuesday to Saturday.
New Nordic cuisine outside of Scandinavia
Do you want to try New Nordic cuisine but are unable to travel to Copenhagen? Here is a list of restaurants around the globe where you can try New Nordic influenced cuisine
London – Try Swedish trained chef Michael Jonsson’s restaurant Hedone in Chiswick
New York – The first venue in a series of offerings from Claus Meyer (who founded Noma) is Agern restaurant on 42nd Street. Meyer is also opening a New Nordic Food Hall in Grand Central Terminal.
Melbourne – At Attica, chef Ben Shewry has been celebrating local ingredients and techniques for many years. The restaurant is number 32 on a respected list of the world’s 50 best restaurants.
Is Nordic cuisine worth the hype?
The principles and ethos of New Nordic cuisine are attractive to many people in a world that is struggling with mass production and food waste.
With a focus on fresh, local ingredients and balanced nutrients, Nordic cuisine has unsurprisingly also been found to have health benefits by several research projects.
Copenhagen is one of the best places in the world to discover this way of cooking and we thoroughly enjoyed our experience at Manfreds and Mielcke & Hurtigkarl.
In doing my research for our trip and this post I read an interesting perspective by a journalist who had been involved with Redzepi and Meyer in the early days of the new cuisine.
According to this writer, the New Nordic movement is now a little stale and has been hijacked by restauranteurs and chefs that do not have the skill or vision of the original pioneers.
My opinion is that cooking that relies on fresh, straight from the garden vegetables and high-quality protein should be encouraged. You can learn more about New Nordic cuisine here.
Have you tried New Nordic cuisine? What did you think? Did it live up to the hype?
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