Oh Copenhagen, land of the hipster, known for its coffee, stylish designs and gastronomy. So when we got wind that Aaron from The National was organising the 2 day HAVEN festival in the city, we were SOLD!
With flights taking just an hour and a half from London, you’ll blink and wake up in the Danish capital. Forget costly taxis, the train took about 20 mins to get into the centre of town and was mega quick and easy to figure out. Save your money for the food, you’re going to need it!
We stayed at the hippy dippy Axel Guldsmeden, an eco-hotel a stone’s throw from the station. It’s a really lovely space, filled with comfy sofas and throws that could only be described as hyggeligt, complete with pretty courtyard, relaxing spa and buckets of complimentary apples.
Although it was the festival that got us there, we were absolutely going to maximise our eating time. Noma may have been closed but it’s alumni have gone on to open their own incredible restaurants, and we did our damnedest to work our way through them all. There’s a BA flight that will get you into Copenhagen for 9.35am – just in time to dump your bags, freshen up and get out for lunch.
Day 1 – Lunch at Torvehallerne
This modern market is packed to the rafters with delicious eats. There’s over 60 stands selling everything from gourmet chocolate to exotic spices but there’s plenty of places to pull up a stool and get stuck in.
Start with a traditional smørrebrød (or open sandwich to you and I) at Hallernes. Pre-made on paper plates so you can see exactly what you’re getting, these guys are little works of art. Piled high with toppings, expect everything from pickled herring to rare slices of roast beef with pickles and cucumber salad. We kept things traditional and opted for the smoked salmon and egg with lemon, dill and fennel. Make sure you swing by The Coffee Collective for a cortado on the way out – it’s THE best coffee we tried whilst there and we still can’t stop dreaming off it.
Day 1 – Dinner at Amass
We’d heard GREAT things about Amass from everyone that’s been to Copenhagen but it was only open the first night we were in town, as it’s literally ON the HAVEN festival site (we could hear them doing sound check). Coincidentally that also happened to be the night Eli Kaimeh from Per Se (NYC, No. 87 in World’s 50 Best, Three Michelin Stars) happened to be in town for a very special one off dinner. The menu featured seasonal ingredients (often grown on-site) given the Per Se twist. The potato bread with seaweed butter was so insanely good they had to replenish it about three times. Everything was light, bright and bloody beautiful. The menu might be different if you decide to visit, but the huge industrial dining room, incredible wine and attentive staff all still make Amass well worth a visit. The head chef, restaurant manager, owners and head pastry chef are all ex Noma.
Before dinner we popped into HAVEN bar to pick up our wristbands. Located right on the waterfront, this is a gorgeous little pop-up space to knock back a craft beer or two if the sun’s shining.
Day 2 – Pre-lunch at Copenhagen Street Food on Paper Island
This cavernous warehouse features around 40 street food traders dishing up everything from giant G&T’s to ostrich burgers, fresh oysters to sushi. There’s Korean BBQ, Brazilian, Duck Burgers and gluten-free, veggie and vegan options – anything you can think of basically. And lots of lovely cocktail bars. Put simply, it’s street feast, on steroids. Located right on the harbour, there’s plenty of seating both inside and out, with views over the Opera House and the Royal Playhouse.
Day 2 – Lunch at 108
Billed by many as the new Noma, 108 is creating quite the stir. Located right on the waterfront, choose from either the tasting menu with paired wine or go a la carte. Championing fresh, local vegetables, the presentation is next level fan-bloody-tastic and the dining room is light, bright and airy. I mean, just look….
Day 2 – Dinner & dancing at HAVEN Festival
Meyer Begeri was in charge of food, and he lived up to his stellar reputation (his pastry shops are THE best and dotted around the capital).
We sang along to Iggy Pop, drank pitchers of craft beer and tucked into loaded flatbreads, baked on-site throughout the day with potatoes and cauliflower, smoked paprika, cumin and yoghurt & smoked pork breast with salted lemon, garlic, fennel and goat cheese.
Ok – so two lunches might not be for everyone but we were running out of time and suffer from serious FOMO so it was the only way. Don’t worry, these guys are literally opposite each other so it’s totally doable. Start at Manfreds where weirdly they are famous for their steak tartare (despite the rest of the menu focusing on veggies). We can see why though, it really was memorable. It’s a wine bar too so order a nice glass of biodynamic orange wine before popping over the road to Relae. No. 40 in the World’s 50 Best, at Relae you have a choice of 4 or 7 courses, with the option of a wine pairing (get the wine pairing!). The food is typically scandi so you won’t leave too stuffed. Again, Head chef and owner are ex Noma.
The street is 100% Scandi, filled with cafes, ceramists and independent clothes shops, perfect for walking off two lunches.
Day 3 – Back to HAVEN Festival…
…where The National absolutely killed it. There were biblical showers but we stayed until the end. What a NIGHT.
The top festival grub continued with the Butcher’s Manifesto (who were grilling whole goat’s and lamb’s over an open fire at the festival site. The meat, together with some very special trimmings, were served in freshly-baked Øland bread from Meyers Bageri).
We might have managed to squeeze in a hotdog ‘remix’ – the ‘land and sea sausage’ consisted of cod, pork and mussels, whilst ‘the bandit’ was free-range pork, roasted duck hearts, blackcurrant and juniper berries. We drank cocktails made from freshly-pressed apple juice – the first of this year’s apple harvest.
Day 4 Lunch at Hija de Sanchez
Proving that even if you started at Noma, it doesn’t mean your restaurant’s gotta be fancy pants. No siree, Hija de Sanchez is a super low-key setting where they are dishing up killer tacos and beetroot margaritas. The perfect post-festival hangover killer – we tucked into huevos rancheros and pork carnitas. Just over the road is Pate which is great for a glass of good vino in the sun before you catch your flight home.
We hope this guide to our favourite eats in Copenhagen is helpful, and proof that you can pack in plenty in a long weekend. Here’s to next year’s HAVEN festival!