Urban farming in Copenhagen
The concrete, the cobblestones, and the blue canals are making space for the greens in Copenhagen, as urban farms take over rooftops, backyards, sidew...
The world’s best restaurants Geranium and noma are front-runners in refining plant-based dining, but high-quality green options are also abundant in fast food joints, cafés, restaurants and urban gardens around the Danish capital.
The New Nordic Kitchen Manifesto was formulated back in 2004 creating a new way of thinking about food in a region that is historically meat heavy. The manifesto was signed and backed by a list of chefs from the Nordic countries wanting to change the agenda of cooking, and the purpose was to focus on local produce and on reflecting the seasons with an emphasis on animal welfare, purity, freshness, simplicity, and ethics.
One of the signees back then was René Redzepi, whose restaurant noma has since been named five times world’s best restaurant by The World’s 50 Best Restaurants. Redzepi spearheaded the New Nordic Food movement, and the menu at noma specifically focuses on the seasons.
Their vegetable season runs from June to September offering both vegetarian and vegan menu options, with creative techniques that aim to push boundaries – for example by serving a dish consisting of a jasmine kombucha mother with aromatic seeds and a paste of marigold and tomato.
Also, the current world’s best restaurant Geranium made an announcement in 2021 to switch entirely to a menu consisting of vegetables, fish and seafood. The head-chef Rasmus Kofoed of the Copenhagen restaurant doesn’t eat meat himself and he wanted to celebrate local, organic and biodynamic produce. He also founded an entirely plant-based pop up called Angelika.
noma and Geranium have led the plant-based revolution in Copenhagen but are by no means the only restaurants aiming to serve high quality plant-focused options in Copenhagen. See a list below.
An urban oasis can be found in the middle of Copenhagen with nine wooden barns hidden in 1.5 hectares of wild nature. BaneGaarden opened in August 2020 and it’s an organic village with food stalls and the restaurant Lade 609 and the pizzeria and bakery Perron. Try a vegan falafel wrap from Phago made on a homemade sourdough flatbread with baba ganoush, romesco, sweet potatoes, cabbage, pomegranate and a lemon vinaigrette. The wooden barns were built in 1909 by DSB for storing wood and other materials for the rails, however, they haven’t been used since 1950 allowing wild nature to grow around them.
The many hotdog vans around Copenhagen create an iconic look in the Danish capital, and the first ones started selling sausages more than 100 years ago. Den Økologiske Pølsemand (DØP) has two vans on the shopping street in central Copenhagen, and all of their hotdogs are organic. They have a vegan sausage option including vegan bread and the classic toppings of a hotdog – the only thing missing for their traditional Danish hotdog to be vegan is the remoulade, which is vegetarian.
On Vesterbro and in central Copenhagen, you will find two Killer Kebab shops which has received top ratings by Danish newspapers. Here, the vegetarians can enjoy a falafel with truffle mayo, and vegans will get hummus instead of mayo in the home-made sourdough flatbread, which also comes with celery, cabbage, apple and mint. There is seating space both inside and outside, and the first venue opened in autumn 2020.
The team behind the famous Danish restaurant noma spent months developing the recipes for their burger restaurant POPL in a fermentation lab. The restaurant opened in 2020, and the result of their vegetarian and vegan burger patties is cooked quinoa which goes through a two-day process to become patties. POPL comes from the Latin word ‘populus’ meaning community of people, but it also is a nod to respecting nature, as the name also refers to poplar wood.
All the salads in Pure Greens Club are plant-based and primarily organic, and they’re all the creation of a gourmet chef. At the beginning of 2022, Pure Greens Club's salad shop opened on Gammel Kongevej in Frederiksberg. Here, the former Geranium chef Chef Kavit has created a menu, which takes you around the world from dishes such as Soul of Seoul with sweet potato noodles, kimchi, edamame, soy and miso-glazed tofu to San Francisco with wild rice in spinach purée, avocado, pickled red onion, pickled ginger and mango. You can have the salad to-go or sit inside or outside the salad shop.
They call themselves a plant-based bistro, and the all-vegetarian Baka d’Busk has an aim to have 50 percent vegan dishes on its menu. Based on Rantzausgade on Nørrebro, they opened in 2018 and block-coloured glass stands out in the interior. Baka d’Busk means ‘The idiot’ in Japanese. They use seasonal produce and let the vegetables inspire the dishes and not the other way around, which means the menu for lunch and dinner changes on a daily basis. Baka d’Busk is founded by two chefs, an artist, a photographer and a blacksmith.
Bistro Lupa is a plant-based bistro located in Østerbro. After its opening in 2021, it received top food ratings in the Danish newspaper Politiken. It is part of the Ark Collection, which was founded by the Australian entrepreneur Jason Renwick and also consists of fine dining Restaurant Ark and casual eatery Beyla Eatery. They all serve plant-based food from local produce, from Renwick’s mushroom farm Funga Farm and from foraging. At Bistro Lupa, they serve a five course meal which could be a starter of almond cream cheese, apricot, peas and caraway crumble followed by a risotto verde. Their signature dish ‘Lupa fried mushrooms’ can also be added - these are southern fried mushrooms served with a smoked chilli glaze.
In 2017, Gemyse opened in the world’s second oldest theme park, Tivoli Gardens, in Copenhagen's centre. The word Gemyse is a collective name for cooked vegetables and the idea is to offer organic, vegetable-based dishes that fit the season on vegetarian and vegan menus. The vegetables are from the organic suppliers Aarstiderne and herbs from the restaurant’s own vegetable garden. In the evening, guests can cook marshmallows and twist bread over their outdoor fire pits, and you can also enjoy a light meal at their greenhouse next to the restaurant.
Nestled right on the water of Refshaleøen, you’ll find La Banchina, which means ‘pier’ in Italian. The 14-seat walk-in restaurant and natural wine bar is set in a wooden house complete with a pier on the water and an on-site sauna. La Banchina focuses on baked goods for breakfast and on two types of dishes for lunch: grilled vegetables and seafood, which can be enjoyed on the pier on a sunny day. In the winter, they serve a pescetarian tasting menu inside the restaurant, which can be made vegan or vegetarian upon request. La Banchina was opened in 2016 by the founder of the Copenhagen restaurant Il Buco. The building used to be a guard building and a waiting area for the ferry for the workers of the now-closed shipyard B&W on Refshaleøen.
As the name suggests, The Pescetarian serves fish, seafood and vegetables in their restaurant, which is positioned right next to the star-shaped Citadel in Copenhagen. In 2019, the founders of the meat-focused Marv & Ben opened their second restaurant, which has a completely different focus. Both offer four or six courses, and The Pescetarian can make all their dishes in a vegetarian or vegan version if told upon booking. This could be courgette, mushrooms and fermented garlic or for the vegetarians – potatoes, white asparagus and Danish cheese.
The largest urban farm in the Nordics opened in 2021. The organic farm Øens Have is placed on Refshaleøen and spread over 3500 square metres, and here they’ve planted beans, cabbage, onions, and peas among other vegetables and edible flowers. The harvest is used for the restaurant and for teaching purposes. Besides inviting urban citizens for volunteer day every Tuesday, they also offer tours, workshops, courses for kids and food experiences. In two yards at the back of the farm, you can eat lunch or dinner based on the harvest from the farm with a mix of choices between meat, fish, vegetarian and some vegan options. The founders of Øens Have are also behind Østergro, Denmark’s first rooftop farm which opened in 2014 on Østerbro. Here, they run the restaurant Gro Spiseri, where you can enjoy a set menu in a greenhouse on the rooftop farm.
In the former space of Relæ in Nørrebro, Topicàl has made a menu entirely vegetable-focused, where high-quality organic meat only is offered as an add-on to the course. Led by the Neapolitan head chef Davide Laudato, a former chef at Relæ, Topicàl was established to serve the Southern European cuisine while adding a modern twist. Focusing on high-quality ingredients and fresh vegetables, the kitchen is based on simple cooking with innovative takes on traditional dishes and a great respect for the structure of the original taste. Intending to create great food experiences in a time of inflation, the restaurant has the ambition of being able to appeal to and accommodate a crowd of great diversity, from young locals to curios international foodies.
Awarded the prestigious title of ‘The World’s Best Restaurant’ in 2022, the same year that Geranium switched to only serving seafood and vegetables in their restaurant. The announcement of serving no meat on their tasting menu came five years after the head-chef Rasmus Kofoed decided to go meat-free himself. The restaurant also offers vegetarian and vegan tasting menus, and the vegetables come from organic and biodynamic farms in Scandinavia. Geranium was the first Danish restaurant to receive three Michelin stars, which happened in 2016, and Kofoed has won both gold, silver and bronze as the only chef at Bocuse d’Or, which is called the most rigorous culinary competition in the world.
How about a grilled koji cake wrapped in cucumber skin? Or perhaps an elderflower ice cream wrapped in an oat milk dough with bee pollen? Those dishes were both parts of the 2022 noma summer season. The Copenhagen restaurant is now on The World’s 50 best restaurants’ ‘Best of the best’-list after winning the top spot five times previously. They offer three types of menus throughout the year: One focused on seafood, one on vegetables and one on meat. In their vegetable season, they offer both vegetarian and vegan menus. noma received their third Michelin star in 2021. The word noma is an abbreviation of the two Danish words ‘nordisk’ and ‘mad’ meaning Nordic food.
Restaurant Ark is the gourmet version of its sister restaurants Bistro Lupa and Souls and serves fine dining plant-based food in the centre of Copenhagen, close to Nørreport Station. In 2021, Ark was awarded a Green Michelin star, and its current tasting menu consists of nine vegan dishes. Especially mushrooms are in focus on the menus, as the founder Jason Renwick is involved in the urban farm Funga Farm, which grows lion mane, oyster mushrooms, maitake, and cinnamon cap among the varieties. Renwick also goes foraging on a daily basis to collect seasonal plants and flowers, which could be anything from mirabelle flowers to wild garlic or sea sandwort.
Head chef Henrik Yde is the brain behind the Michelin-starred Thai restaurant Kiin Kiin, which received its first star back in 2008 as the only Thai restaurant in the world outside of Thailand. In 2016, he opened the vegetarian restaurant VeVe, which is an abbreviation of the words ‘vegetarisk’ and ‘verdenskøkken’ meaning vegetarian world cuisine. You can either have a vegetarian tasting menu or let the restaurant know in the booking if you prefer the vegan option. VeVe is housed in a former bread factory near the water of Amerikakaj, and the dining experience begins with snacks in the lounge followed by a six-course tasting menu.
Kaf is a café on Birkegade on Nørrebro, and they specialise in 100% plant-based cakes and bread. The café serves a range of vegan cheesecakes, and their pecan pie is for example made with cashew cream and topped with pecans and caramel. Sourdough and hydration are in focus in their bread and they also serve classic pastries in vegan versions such as croissants and cardamon buns. Café Kaf was founded in 2015. In the morning, they serve breakfast plates with homemade nutella, vegan cheese, butter, homemade granola and chia yoghurt and a croissant, and they were nominated to be the best vegan café by the national newspaper Berlingske in 2018.
Det Rene Brød means ‘The pure bread’ in Danish, and it has existed since 1988. It was the first 100% organic bakery in Denmark, and you’ll find it on Frederiksberg and Østerbro. They have both vegan and vegetarian sandwich options, and it is also possible to try the vegan version of the classic Danish pastry and cakes. In fact, all their Danish pastries are vegan except their croissants and one with a custard filling. You can either bring the treats home or enjoy them at their Frederiksberg location. Every Monday and Friday, Det Rene Brød also sells gluten-free bread and buns.
A Danish dessert classic is the ‘flødebolle’ – a chocolate-covered cream puff, which is typically made out of whipped egg whites. In 2018, Anja Bindesbøll founded Glean – offering a vegan alternative to the classic dessert. Her cream puffs are made out of aquafaba, which is the water that comes from canned chickpeas. This has protein and starch in it and can be whipped just like egg whites. Glean upcycles chickpea water from big productions, which makes it a sustainable alternative. You can buy the cream puffs and fudge from the Glean stall at the food market Torvehallerne.
In Nordhavn, you’ll find Moomoo, a completely vegan, sugar-free, keto and gluten-free ice cream bar. It opened in March 2022, and its Italian-inspired ice creams are based on coconut milk, coconut flour, stevia, coconut oil, vanilla, Xanthan Gum and salt. Moomoo was founded in 2018 in Ørestad by Sofia Newson Denoux, who has taken various gelato courses in Italy. In 2021 the concept was changed into a vegan ice cream shop but with the same mindset of creating gelato. There is now also a Moomoo on Bredgade in Central Copenhagen.
The idea of creating a vegan ice cream shop came to two Icelandic guys in 2014 when they were living in Copenhagen. They wanted to create a vegan alternative, and in 2015 the first shop opened on Elmegade in Nørrebro. The popularity quickly grew, and there are now five Nicecream shops around Copenhagen. Their ice cream is made with organic coconut milk, and organic cane sugar and the ingredients for the flavours range from the Danish classic liquorice ice cream to lemon, mint and coffee-flavoured scoops.
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