New York City’s TriBeCa neighborhood may be known mainly for its film festival, but a new Danish restaurant in the neighborhood is giving the film festival a run for its money in terms of buzz factor.
Last May, when researching our book Eat Smart in Denmark, we were told that we shouldn’t write a book about Danish food without a visit to Aamanns, a restaurant known for delectable smørrebrød and other dishes that are “old classics with a new twist”. We visited on our first day and were delighted with the house-made herring and the rugbrød. When we returned to the states we began hearing rumors that Aamanns would be opening soon in New York City. We made an effort to visit on several trips to the city, but unfortunately there were countless delays in the grand unveiling. Happily the nightmare of getting permits approved is over and this past November (just in time for Hurricane Sandy), Aamans–Copenhagenof New York finally opened. [Note: the restaurant has since changed its name to The Copenhagen.]
We had the pleasure of dining there a few weeks ago and were able to speak with the owner, Sanne Ytting. Ytting is a Dane who had been living in New York and working as a music therapist when she was inspired to bring a little slice of Denmark to the Big Apple. Connections in Denmark put her in touch with Adam Aamann, and the partnership was born.
The lunch menu at The Copenhagen in the US is similar to that of Aamanns in Denmark. They both offer herring, open-faced sandwiches, fresh baked rye bread, and a few hot dishes. Ytting shared that the beef tartare smørrebrød is the most popular dish among non-Danes who frequent the restaurant. And while many of the New York area’s 30,000 Danes have come to dine (along with the Norwegian students who live at Gateway College, which is not coincidentally right next door), most of the customers are American or Japanese. The chicken salad and marzipan cake are also popular menu choices, though it can be hard to pin down a favorite since the menu changes every 6 weeks.
The way that the partnership works is that Adam Aamann originates the recipes and then passes them to consulting chef Carl Kristian Frederiksen in New York. Frederiksen, who was trained by Adam Aamann, then creates the dishes as best he can with American ingredients. The restaurant doesn’t need to import much from Denmark – before they opened Frederiksen and Aamann visited markets and shops in New York to find the best ingredients available to them here.
Opening a Danish restaurant in New York City, especially one that is so highly respected in Denmark, was a huge task, one that Sanne says is “maybe too ambitious” although she has certainly pulled it off now that the headaches of opening are finally over. We ate a trio of herring that rivaled Danish herring, a smørrebrød of kale “tartare” (there are more vegetarian options on this menu than you’d find at the location in Copenhagen), and a plate of fiskefridadeller. Everything from the Bodem salt and pepper grinder to the container that the remouladesauce was served in was classic Scandinavian. The food was delicious and the marzipan cake was the perfect ending to the meal.
Visit The Copenhagen at 13 Laight Street.