March 19, 2011

First night in Copenhagen

After working all day, I got to relax a bit on Friday night. At the recommendation of our hotel concierge, we checked out an organic restaurant nearby that was supposed to have some good homestyle Danish cuisine: Bio Mio.

After some navigation difficulty in finding the restaurant, we eventually located it and went in. It was a big open bar/restaurant that seemed like a lounge in decor and appearance, with some tables situated amongst clusters of couches and easy chairs instead of the usual setup. Most of the others were tall wooden tables that were simplistic in their design, as is the Danish style, and with six to eight bar stools per table. The hostess told us that it was communal seating and that we could pull up a chair anywhere. We were given RFID cards with which to make our “purchases,” the idea being that you could just go order whatever you wanted from the open plan kitchen and bar, keep ordering until you were done, and then simply bring your card up to the register before leaving to pay for it all. I had been to a restaurant like this once before (Vapiano’s, in DC), and it was neat to see the concept working elsewhere.

We struggled a bit with the all-Danish menu; while we were able to make some good guesses at most of the dishes, the hostess was kind of enough to come over and help us out with the rest so we could be sure of our order. I got some delicious Danish meatballs with kasha and tangy sour yogurt. One cool thing about the menu: it was extremely health-focused, with each item having symbols denoting what types of vitamins and minerals were in the dish, and what kind of mood it would put you in (rev you up, calm you down, etc). Mine was marked as low-fat – so cool!

I chased it with one of the sweetest ciders I’ve had to date, and then a basic wheat beer. Both were decent, but I wanted some really good beer as well. Once dinner was done, we headed over to Mikkeller, a bar I had scoped out on Beer Advocate before coming to Denmark.

All three of us ended up being thrilled with my find – it was cozy, cheap, and filled with Danish people embracing the concept of hygge – no tourist trap for us! While the other girls chose quickly, I hemmed and hawed over the selection. Mikkeller happened to be the brewery where I had tried the delicious coffee IPA on last Sunday’s beer run – I hadn’t realized it was a Danish brewery, so how neat to be at the source! However, they were out of the rare selection I had wanted to try, the Beer Geek Brunch, having tapped it just as I was arriving. The bartender suggested I wait for the new keg to be tapped, saying it would only be a few minutes, and in the meantime, offered me samples of several other beers – gratis! This is a big deal in a city where even a glass of tap water costs $5 at a restaurant (true story, from yesterday’s lunch). I didn’t love the other ones I tried, but one of them was a lambic, which I never really love (even despite my visit to Cantillon) and the other was just a boring wheat beer – not too exciting.

However, after enjoying the coffee goodness of Beer Geek Brunch, I went back up for another pick, asking the bartender for something “totally unique,” and was rewarded for creating the rapport by a glass of the Mikkeller Black. It was unlike any beer I’ve ever tasted – very thick, syrup-y sweet, and almost like a blackberry dessert wine. Even crazier was the fact that it was 16.5% ABV – that’s more than some liqueurs! While it wasn’t something I would probably order again to drink a full glass of, it was really awesome to taste just because it was so unique. Of course, I had to drink it carefully – fourth beer of the night and 16.5% ABV? Yikes.

I sipped it slowly over the next half hour or so, but not so slowly that I didn’t find the following sight absolutely hysterical. I did not know that this was what the Danes called urinals.

Now, off for a great day of bike touring!


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