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Greentraveller's Guide to Copenhagen, Denmark part 2: hotels and restaurants

Posted by Philippa Jacks at 07:49 on Tuesday 02 November 2010

Organic roasted scallops at BioM in Copenhagen. Photo: Philippa JacksOrganic roasted scallops at BioM in Copenhagen. Photo: Philippa Jacks

With Copenhagen's revered Noma voted best restaurant in the world this year, it's no surprise that there's an appetite for fine dining in the city. But with a waiting list several months long, and eye-watering prices (£127 for seven Nordic-inspired courses), Noma is unlikely to be within reach for the average visitor. Thankfully, there are lots of more affordable and equally innovative places to dine. Here are some of our favourites, and also our recommendations for eco-friendly hotels in the city.

Copenhagen's organic restaurants
When BioM chefs Brian Johansen and Heinz Lodahl opened Copenhagen's first, certified organic restaurant in 2008, they didn't stop at simply using organic fruit and veg. The paint on the walls is organic, the tea-towels are organic cotton, the chairs are made from the recycled interiors of car boots, and the chefs even admit to wearing organic underwear. BioM, in Copenhagen's Osterbro region, offers a select menu of three starters, three main courses, and three desserts, changing monthly to reflect what's in season. In late summer, this meant I got to try roasted scallops with a blackcurrant vinaigrette, 'lamb three ways' and a divine blackberry cake. There's no compromise on organicity here - G&T lovers won't be able to indulge because the chefs haven't yet found a satisfactory organic tonic. You can, however, sample organic Naturefrisk cola, though it is “the second worst cola in Denmark”, by Brian's own admission. A main course will set you back 180-199Krona (£21-£23).

While BioM was the city's first organic restaurant, BioMio in the meat-packing district is its largest. Another very recent opening (last year), the restaurant can seat 250, but has relatively few waiting staff: you're issued with an electronic card when you arrive, and go up to select whichever dishes you fancy as chefs prepare them in open kitchens. The intriguing menu details which dishes are good for giving energy, which help the immune system, and even which are libido-boosting. Menus change each season: don't miss the mackarel mousse or the healthy home-madecarrot cake (not together) if they're on offer. You can pick-and-mix sizeable tapas-style dishes, with two at 100 Krona (£11.70), four at 195K (£23). You may well see more of BioMio in the next few years; it's proven such a success that its owners are planning expansion within Denmark and then around the world.

Coffee-bean dessert at Kodboyens Fiskebaren in Copenhagen. Photo: Philippa JacksCoffee-bean dessert at Kodboyens Fiskebaren in Copenhagen. Photo: Philippa JacksLocally-sourced fresh fish

Also in the uber-cool meat-packing district is, rather confusingly, one of the city's best fish restaurants: Kodbyens Fiskebaren. Having realised that Copenhagen's only fish restaurants were stuffy and expensive, the owners set about creating a younger, more affordable fish bar. Opened last summer, you already struggle to get a table on a Friday or Saturday night. The restaurant serves only fish and shellfish caught sustainably in the wild, never farmed. Most is caught in Danish waters just the day before, though oysters from France are common. The wine list also features lots of Danish wines, which were unexpectedly good. Alongside scallops from Oresund and hake from the North Sea, I enjoyed a dessert which would give Heston Blumenthal a run for his money: two halves of a coffee-bean pod, one filled with white chocolate mousse, another with coffee ice-cream on raspberry-flavoured snowflakes, all on a bed of coffee beans. Such culinary wizardry doesn't come cheap - main courses are around 225 Krona (£26).

Extend your evening with drinks in one of the clutch of new bars in the meat-packing district. Neither Pate Pate nor Karriere Bar are particularly organic but the labyrinthine loos at Karriere (each identical door leads to five more doors, which each lead to five more doors again) deserve a visit.

Sourdough bread at Bo Bech bakery. Photo: Philippa JacksSourdough bread at Bo Bech bakery. Photo: Philippa Jacks

Cheap eats in Copenhagen

Copenhagen restaurants have 13 Michelin stars between them but you don't have to dine in one of these to be able to taste the work of a Michelin-starred chef. Pop into Bo Bech Bakery, the brainchild of renowned chef Bo Bech, where bakers produce around 1,000 loaves of the one organic sourdough bread each day, starting at 7 in the evening and working right through the night til noon the next day. It costs 35Krona (around £4.10) and is deliciously moreish.

Copenhageners love their hotdogs, but until a year ago, hotdog stands sold only processed sausages made with cheap ingredients. Claus Cristiansen, a qualified nutritionist, saw a gap in the market and is now selling 100% organic hotdogs."Prices at Doep are 30-50% higher than a standard hot dog stand," he admits. "But one of ours fills you up as much as two traditional ones." He currently has one stand, near the Round Tower observatory, but has already acquired a second wagon and plans 

Dop owner Claus Christiensen with an organic hotdog. Photo: Philippa JacksDop owner Claus Christiensen with an organic hotdog. Photo: Philippa Jacks to open more. A standard organic pork hotdog costs 34Krona (around £4). The stall also has beef hotdogs, French-style dogs, and mashed potato and parsnip.

By 2015, you may find an even greater selection of organic cafes and restaurants in Copenhagen. The city council intends to increase the proportion of organic food consumed by residents from 7% (the national average) to 20% as part of its Eco-metropolis vision. Further still, it intends for 90% of all food served in institutions like schools and care-homes to be organic by then too.


Eco-friendly hotels in Copenhagen

Hosting Cop15, the UN Climate Change Conference, in December last year seems to have made a lasting impression on Copenhagen's hoteliers. Before the conference, only 7% of the city's hotels had some kind of eco-certification. Ten months on, a massive 51% have now attained a recognised green standard, whether the Nordic 'Swan' Ecolabel or Green Key.

Crowne Plaza Copenhagen Towers claims to be the first truly carbon-neutral hotel in the world. Opened in 2009, its walls and roof are covered with the largest solar panel 'park' in Northern Europe, and a high-tech groundwater system acts as air-conditioning to cool and heat the hotel.

The family-owned Brochner Hotels, meanwhile, lays claim to being the first carbon-neutral hotel chain in the world. Since 2008, each of the group's four hotels has continually reduced its energy consumption, and Brochner buys carbon credits to offset any energy used. Guests are encouraged to use less linen and fewer towels; energy-efficient lighting has been installed throughout the hotels, and cleaning products were all switched to those with the Nordic Swan label.

I stayed at Brochner's Hotel Kong Arthur in downturn Copenhagen, facing one of thecity's many lakes. Cute Arthurian touches include a chunky 'Round Table' attached to your room-key and full suits of armour dotted around the hotel. I'm not sure what Knights of the Round Table used to eat first thing in the morning, but the hotel's expansive breakfast buffet, with a strong emphasis on organic products, certainly set me up for a day crusading round town on my bicycle (the hotel arrange a bike hire for you if you wish). Brochner Hotels do not currenty offer any incentive to arrive by rail or ferry as opposed to flying, but the group's website does offer a carbon-offsetting function. The Brochners have also set up a website to promote the concept of carbon neutral hotels, with others in Denmark and a couple in the US also signed up.

Photo: Hotel Kong ArthurPhoto: Hotel Kong ArthurEven the very large hotel chains in Scandinavia do fairly well on the green front. Scandic Hotels, which has eight properties in Copenhagen alone, has held the Swan label since 2007, and was one of the early shunners of bottled water. A new 'climate friendly' menu was introduced last year, and this year, staff uniforms have been revamped using organic fabrics. There are several, more wallet-friendly youth hostels in Copenhagen too; the tourist board's website has a helpful list.

Disclosure

Blogs posts categorised as 'Reviews' have been written with the support of one or more of the following: accommodation owner, activity provider, operator, equipment supplier, tourist board, protected landscape authority or other destination-focussed authority. The reviewer retains full editorial control of the work, which has been written in the reviewer's own words based on their experience of the accommodation, activity, equipment or destination.

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