Thursday, October 29, 2009

Ida Davidsen - Copenhagen

Few restaurants in Copenhagen have such a reputation as Ida Davidsen. Here her grandfather offered open sandwiches to his customers over a century ago and Ida has turned this small basement tavern into a legendary culinary heaven.

Location: BBBB+

Ida Davidsen is located in Store Kongens Gade, close to Kongens Nytorv and Nyhavn. Very easy to find, but hardly the most romantic or scenic location.

Service: BBBBB-

At Ida Davidsen you order what you will drink by the table and then you have to wait by the counter to be served.

Here you may ask all you want and as the clientèle is international you are given the same instructions in English. And you may need it as there are 150+ sandwiches on the menu.

This time Ida Davidsen, in person, served our sandwiches, with her white uniform including a tall cook's hat. If that isn't personalized service, ask me what is.

Atmosphere and interior: BBBB+

It is very difficult to rate Ida Davidsen in any traditional context. This is a restaurant that has been in business for over 100 years. The interior is hardly creative or inventive but should not be rated as such.

The presentation at the table is neither elegant nor chic, but the whole atmosphere here is wonderfully informal. The minus here is therefore for those of you that may not like it.

Ida Davidsen is very Danish, very dark and filled up to capacity, as tables here are in great demand.

This time, however, we were seated by the table of another couple, and the closeness made us fell rather uncomfortable.

All in all, the restaurant felt more cramped this time, compared to the other times I have been there. If that is due to us sharing table or whether it was something else, I do not know.

Food: BBBB

As this was the third time, I decided to try some of the other sandwiches offered on the extensive menu. Choosing food based on how it looked, is the only option when standing in front of the large selection on display.

This time I chose less traditional sandwiches. Let me emphasize that they were in a completely other league than most sandwiches served elsewhere in the Danish capital, but compared with the more traditional bites I have enjoyed at Ida Davidsen, they did not match them neither in presentation nor taste.

Sandwich with raw salmon roulade and Japanese wasabi: BBBB+

This must be Ida's sushi sandwich, using raw ingredients - thin slices of raw salmon crayfish tales and trout roe, combined with the quintessential wasabi well known to those in love with these bite sized delicacies.

The thin slices of salmon was made into a roulade with the wasabi in the middle. Beautiful presentation.

Wasabi, can, if used in its original form be very overpowering. Here it was diluted until it being a loud cry away from the pungent original.

Deliciously tender, thinly sliced raw salmon, creamy wasabi, the large, coral coloured trout eggs popped in the mouth. Personally I found the taste slightly disappointing, and I wonder whether the tastes were too subtle to me, and whether I would dare to recommend Ida add more seasoning in order to lift the tastes.

Sandwich with calf's liver, onions, and mushrooms: BBBB

Another large sandwich. So large, in fact, that the topping completely covered the slice of bread underneath.

Large succulent slices of calf's liver, garnished with fried mushrooms, bacon on rye bread.

Calf's liver was perfectly prepared, slightly pink succulent and very tender. Crispy bacon, and creamy fried mushrooms.

Good taste of liver, but Ida could have lifted the taste even by adding a little more salt and pepper.

Beverage: BBBBB-

And what to drink to all these delicious sandwiches. You could ofcourse choose red or white wine to what sandwich you choose, but if you want to follow Danish custom, there is actually no alternative to a pint of beer and a Danish aquavit.

I chose a traditional Danish lager, fresh and sparkling, that both follow fish and meat. I asked Ida to surprise me on the akvavit and she served an interesting variety made by the famous Aalborg distillery.

A great choice, as I might have had a difficult choice in wine to two such different sandwiches.

Rating the Ida Davidsen experience: BBBB+ (4,50 points)

Still a recommendable place to enjoy the traditional Danish specialty. A little low on taste this time, but the open sandwiches served are still a feast for your eyes, and you get topping in abundance.

Restaurant Ida Davidsen
Store Kongensgade 70, 1254 København K
Phone: 33 91 36 55

More on Ida Davidsen?

See earlier story: Lunch with Queen Ida!

More on open sandwiches

Open sandwiches - a Scandinavian Food story

A New Year Brunch

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