Copenhagen

You are never underdressed in Copenhagen. The trendsetting gastronomic beacon of the Nordics leads the way also when it comes to democratizing upscale dining. The “love all, serve all” attitude reaches even the very top of the restaurant hierarchy – at Noma every incoming guest is welcomed like a superstar, regardless of riches or cultural capital. Trends considered ultra-hipster elsewhere are just business as usual in Copenhagen – natural wine, artfully brewed, light roast coffee and craft beer flow through the veins of a whole generation of urban diners. And as they demand the best, the purest and the latest, a whole sector of small scale, organic food producers has emerged to meet their demands.

Most international cuisines can be sampled here, from classic French and old school Italian to Asian, Indian and, lately, Latin and South American. But the foodie city’s claim to fame is of course the New Nordic, a movement that has almost become eponymous with Copenhagen. To say that everything changed in 2004 with the New Nordic manifesto is to oversimplify matters – though Noma’s success certainly had, and still has a deep and profound effect on the city’s culinary scene. Another catalyst was the bank crisis that hit Denmark hard in 2008. In its wake came a surge of relaxed, low key restos that opened in odd and unfashionable parts of town, where rents were cheap.

Today Copenhagen is studded with high quality and – even by Nordic standards – affordable options for the hungry visitor. But dogma doesn’t survive long in this rebellious city, and while the rest of the world is still trying to figure out the difference between woodruff and sorrel, the pioneers of the movement have already left the scene. Yes, over here the air is slowly fizzing out of the New Nordic balloon, but ever resourceful, we’re applying the same cockiness, relentless searching for prime ingredients and constant technical development to the next newest cooking styles.

There is a heady feeling of “anything goes” among the city’s young restaurateurs and it is compelling that one of last year’s most interesting restaurant openings, Rasmus Munk’s Alchemist, put a new spin on something as unfashionable as molecular gastronomy – just as we were about to proclaim it stone cold dead. René Redzepi, as he is René Redzepi, has no intention of resting on his laurels. Noma is closing in December and a new, urban farm-based seasonal restaurant will be his next venture – expanding the city even more to include the peninsula of Refshaleøen, a semi-abandoned ship’s wharf on the outskirts of bohemian Christiania. We are eagerly awaiting the results. Long live the revolution!

12forward by White Guide lists 12 eateries in each chosen city that represent the very forefront of gastronomy.