Leave it to the Danes to take the top slice of bread off a sandwich and pretend it’s a whole new creation. The smørrebrød is the staple of the Danish home kitchen—a smorgasbord of ingredients served family-style, where diners can mix and match their favorite tastes and place them atop home-baked slices of dark rye bread. Toppings range from pickled herring to roast beef, and are often enhanced with cucumber, egg, and onion. There’s also an important social element to the smørrebrød tradition as families and friends gather during the protracted midday meal. Some say it’s the only truly Danish contribution to the canon of gastronomy.
Two of our favorite establishments in Copenhagen are taking the beloved lunching tradition in two very different directions, and both are creating something rather be’wich-ing.
The Classic: Kronborg
What a businessman’s lunchtime hangout may have looked like in the 1950s, Kronborg—named for Hamlet’s castle—is hidden in a cellar and wallpapered in an eclectic assortment of paintings and portraits. Featuring all the trappings of the traditional smørrebrød meal, the restaurant features an absolutely unfinishable Gentleman’s Lunch, which boasts fish prepared four ways (marinated herring, salted herring, fried plaice, and smoked salmon) followed by three home-cured meats, a selection of pungent cheese, and a generous amount of aquavit to wash it all down. We’re skeptical of how efficient the workday would be after one finishes this midday meal. RestaurantKronborg.dk
The Modern: Aamanns 1921
You’d never know it just by walking in, but Adam Aamann’s brand-new sandwichery is housed in a former bomb shelter—diners can poke their heads in the basement to see its architectural remnants. With plenty of blonde wood and white cloth napkins, Aamanns 1921 is an elevated smørrebrød experience—almost like having high tea at The Plaza—with canned fish swapped for steak tartare, pork belly, and herring with kohlrabi, served on a thin slice of ground rye bread. Aamanns.dk