Last fall, the old customs building at the front end of Nyhavn was finally filled with new life, after having been empty for at least as long as I’ve lived here. I’ve always really like the building, and thought it was quite a shame that it was just sitting there empty - and it seems that Claus Meyer, maybe the most famous Danish chef after Rene Redzepi from Noma and one of the founders of the “New Nordic Cuisine” movement, thought the same. That’s why, on October 3rd (German reunification day!), he opened not one, not two, but three restaurants and a jazz club in the bulding that’s now overlooking the harbor in a fresh mint color.
Inside, there are three different restaurants (for more information check out this page):
Almanak - This restaurant is described as serving food that our (Danish) grandparents would have made, had they known what we know today. It’s basically a classic “New Nordic” restaurant, with focus on local and seasonal ingredients.
Verandah - Described as “the first contemporary gastronomic Indian restaurant in this region”, this place offers high-end Indian cuisine and cocktails.
Studio - The head chef comes straight from world-famous Noma, and wants to broaden horizons, in terms of taste, but also in terms of produce from other regions and some fusion cuisine.
Further, the building hosts an exclusive Jazz Club, simply called “The Standard Copenhagen”. The master mind behind this is Niels Lan Doky, a famous Danish jazz pianist with connections to the jazz scene all across the world. With its only 68 seats, the aim clearly is a very cozy and familiar atmosphere. The corner cocktail bar serves a small, but beautiful selection of cocktails.
About a week after its opening, we decided to try out The Standard by buying a “Dinner and Jazz” ticket, which entitles you to a three course dinner plus admission to the jazz show afterwards. We chose Almanak as the place to eat, and were not disappointed!
Our starter was a Danish fall classic: “jordskokkesuppe” (Jerusalem artichoke soup), with hazelnuts, fresh and dried apples, and a herb oil. On the side, we got freshly baked bread - a beautiful combination.
The main course was chicken - before I moved here, I hardly ever got served chicken in a “high end” restaurant, it seems to be too common or beneath most “fine dining” chefs. But I’ve had it twice in really good restaurants in Copenhagen, and both times, it was amazing (the Viking boyfriend to this day says that the chicken breast with rhubarb and sweet corn at Oliver And The Black Circus was the best dish he’s ever eaten at a restaurant - but that restaurant deserves its own post). This chicken breast came with roasted and pureed carrots and fresh herbs, and it was simply delicious!
Aaah, dessert. I’m a dessert person. No matter how full I am after the starters and mains, I will always - ALWAYS - have room for dessert. The day that I refuse dessert is the day hell freezes over. And what a beautiful one this one was! A twist on THE Danish classic: “rødgrød med fløde” (red fruit pudding, similar to jam, with cream). Instead of the classic berries that are normally used for the grød, this one was based on plums for a more seasonal element. The dessert also included some meringues, a scoop of home-made ice cream, some nut crunch and flowers… I could eat this every day!
After dinner, we headed up to the Jazz Club to see the world premier of the “Oscar Peterson Legacy Quartet” (the complete concert can be viewed here). I have to say that I am far from being an expert on jazz, but I did take a liking to it when I was in New Orleans (how could I not?!). I couldn’t give you a professional review of the band members, I’ll leave that to the journalists. But for me, music is great when it moves you. And by those standards, this quartet performed masterfully. Especially one song really brought tears to my eyes, and I’ve listened to it many times since.
The club itself is, as described above, cozy with a thick carpet and big red velvet curtains. You feel moved back into a “Mad Men” era, as you’re sipping your cocktail (I highly recommend the green one with gin, although I can’t remember the name - it is amazing!) in the plush chairs.
Oscar Peterson was one of the great jazz pianists of the last century. He died in 2007, but his music is still played by many jazz bands around the world, such as this quartet. It consisted of Niels Lan Doky (the man behind the club) on the piano, Ulf Wakenius (guitar), Dave Young (bass) and Alvin Queen (drums). Many, if not all, of the members of this quartet have played with Oscar Peterson himself. The set was a mix of “best ofs” as well as some personal favorites of Lan Doky, which might be less famous. The piece that brought me to tears is called “Hymn to Freedom”, and I’m sharing the best version I could find on YouTube below:
All in all, it was a great evening with delicious food and a beautiful concert, and I can’t wait to try out the other two restaurants as well!