19 Mar Minn’s Munchtime – Madklubben Vesterbro, Copenhagen
It was an unusual Monday morning – turning up at Gatwick to surprise my partner’s parents on their birthday trip to Copenhagen. Trust me, hiding from people in the not particularly large Gatwick North terminal is mildly stressful though I always enjoy channelling my ninja stealth. We must have looked so dodge trying to keep out of parental sight! I was only joining them for twenty-four hours in Copenhagen – very Anthony Bourdain in his ‘Layover’ series. The plan was to go for a nice family dinner near our hotels, and Madklubben Vesterbro seemed to fill the brief.
The Danish concept of ‘hygge’ seems to be trending everywhere at the moment – you can’t pass a bookstore without promotions of how to get that special cosy feeling. I felt it in buckets at Madklubben Vesterbro, from the fluffy faux-sheepskins draped over bar chairs, to the overflowing coats stands draped with typically Scandi-chic yet practical outerwear. This combined with the glossy white subway tile, bare brick and casual chipboard cladding emphasised the warm yet smart, young and effortless vibe.
We had some drinks at the bar to start, notably the Rhubarbomb, which not only being fun to say was also fun to drink and a wonderful bright pink. I had a non alcoholic sour grape mixture which was super tangy and perked me right up on that rainy evening. The cocktail menu has a good selection without being a massive tome. They range from gins to whiskey and rum based drinks, simple in style and something for everyone.
From bar to table you are led through a series of rooms – all open, but slightly concealed from view by angled walls, iron framed window panels or by being on different levels. So despite being a big restaurant with a large capacity, it retains a feeling of intimacy. They have a number of areas which are for larger groups with long tables, as well as the traditional smaller tables for two or four people.
Our lovely waiter Johannes gave us some complimentary pork scratchings as an appetiser. These weren’t your tiny shavings of bitter fat, but proper big pieces dusted with paprika for a hint of spice. For mains I chose the baked North Sea cod with roasted parsley roots, clam sauce, onion crudité and herb oil. Typo alert, they mean roasted parsnip roots not parsley, though there was a parsley garnish on top. I did think it was weird to roast parsley roots! The plate was delicately presented with the cod peeking though translucent onion rings and swathed in the creamy clam sauce, the verdant parsley setting off this otherwise all white dish. The fish was perfectly flaky and all the flavours were well balanced, with nothing overpowering the main ingredient. I added golden crispy fries as a side, which gave it a nod to posh fish and chips!
My partner had the beef cuvette, again with chips, salad and red wine sauce. To my mind the sauce was the star here, rich and deep to bolster the tenderness of the meat. I did have slight food envy at the sight of the grilled pork chop. I don’t know where they get their pigs from but this was a HUGE juicy chop served atop a butterbean and chorizo cassoulet.
I passed on the desserts and had a white tea. Speaking of teas, I’ve noticed on the continent that a lot of what is advertised as green or white tea is actually a mixture of many different ingredients and sweeteners. This one included various fruity powders with added mango juice resulting in quite a sweet tea.
The mango passion pudding was a tropical concoction of fluffy passion fruit yoghurt hiding a mango ice cream ball inside, on top of a bed of granola and pineapple compote. It’s basically a breakfast on crack, however the overriding flavour is the pineapple. The mango and passion fruit were lost in the mix, so even though it was tasty and enjoyable, it was not the explosion of summer sunshine I expected.
Most of our table went for the ‘Snickers’ sundae – a frozen mash up of vanilla ice cream, salted peanuts, caramel and peanut cookie topped with chocolate sauce. On arrival it looked underwhelming in a plain silver beaker. You couldn’t even see the sundae out the top! I had anticipated an American-style abundance of ice cream with a whole mess of toppings dripping down the sides. However, when in Denmark…this is a more sophisticated version, and no less tasty for it! Judging by the silence which descended during this part of the meal, it would be safe to say the sundae hit the spot despite its unassuming appearance. The classic and luxurious combination of salty, sweet and creamy would keep even the most indulgent amongst us happy. Universal verdict from the four sundae selectors was YUM.
Madklubben might sound like ‘mad club’ but actually means ‘food club’. While I could probably fit in both, a food club sounds like an excellent idea to me and I’d definitely subscribe to Madklubben. The warm staff have perfect English and make you feel completely at ease. Advanced booking is recommended, though you could chance some kitchen-side bar seats. We went on a Monday night and it was pretty busy so book a couple of days early to be sure of a table. What I didn’t realise until later is that the restaurant is in the middle of a theatre district, making it ideal for audience pre-show meals, or if you have time to spare on a visiting gig. It’s the sort of place you want to spend time at, catching up with old friends. Basically it’s like your own cosy living room, but with better food, better interior design and better…everything really!
Nearest venues: Det Ny Teater, Tivoli Gardens, Teateret Ved Sorte Hest, Husets Teater, Teatret Zeppelin, Rytmisk Center
Total receipt: 2435 dkk for 6 people (roughly £288)
1735 dkk food
450 dkk cocktails
250 dkk beers
Rating: 8/10 Hygge hug