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Copenhagen 2.0

Can a single restaurant transform an entire city? With the relocation of the globally influential Noma, the culinary map of Denmark’s coastal capital is more intriguing than ever


Copenhagen harbour and the Royal Danish Playhouse, with its waterfront café.
Photographs ULF SVANE @ulfsvane

A gaggle of children wearing wellington boots huddle by the roadside. They stand behind a rope cordon, waiting to enter a field scattered with sunflowers. To one side a grey heron stalks a large pond, to the other appear to stand several barns and greenhouses. At first glance, as cycle by, nature reserve. But a small sign reveals the kids are visiting the new site of Noma (, a restaurant that’s been voted the world’s best four times, where bookings for the entire season are snapped up in less than 24 hours and diners shell out £275 for a 20-course tasting menu.

A dish of red beetroot and dulse sauce at Manfreds in Nørrebro, where produce is grown on the restaurant’s own organic farm

As standard-bearers for New Nordic Cuisine, Noma and its charismatic chef/owner René Redzepi popularised foraging, fermenting and smoking, and led seasonality and hyper-localism to become fashionable in kitchens worldwide. Perhaps Noma’s most profound effect has been on Copenhagen, transforming it from a culinary backwater to a gastronomic capital (and adding some 10,000 jobs to its restaurant industry in a decade).

When Noma opened in 2003, its location on the east bank of Copenhagen’s harbour was relatively remote. More a rambling network of waterways and islands than a coherent neighbourhood, the district was historically disconnected from the wide boulevards and elegant townhouses to the west of the harbour. When I visit I find an area transformed, now a living postcard for the sustainable Scandi lifestyle, packed with cyclists, canoeists and fishing vessels turned mansion-sized houseboats. A car-free bridge, opened in 2016, whisks people from the west of the harbour in minutes. After building an elaborate rock garden to deter tourists from gaping through the windows, Redzepi succumbed to the inevitable and this year relocated to the bucolic fringes of the eastern islands, rebranding as Noma 2.0.

To learn more about Copenhagen’s metamorphosis, I join a cooking class led by Trine Hahnemann, a celebrated chef and cookbook author ‘I don’t think you can overestimate what René did for Copenhagen,’ she says. ‘Before Noma, there were only high-end French restaurants for special occasions or cheap takeaways. People didn’t eat out all that much.’

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Find the complete article and many more in this issue of Lonely Planet - December 2018
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