I had the pleasure of dining at Aamanns-Copenhagen, a new Danish restaurant in Tribeca specializing in smørrebrød - open-face sandwiches served on dark brown bread. A lovely space, warm and inviting, friendly staff - I haven't a single complaint.
First, the prices are right: smørrebrød run $7-$9, each about the size of a decent appetizer - think the dimensions of a cassette tape, give or take, but piled pretty high with fixings. And fantastic fixings they were. I've included a few pics below - forgive, the camera on my phone kind of sucks so they're not the best photos, but the give you an idea of the size and presentation.
We started off with beer (the beers are exclusively from the great Evil Twin Brewing, a Danish brewer that has set up shop locally and is brewing a few exclusives just for A-C) and house-infused Aquavits, of course. The only beer currently on tap is a pilsner, light and crisp, very solid - there's also ET "Hipster Ale" in cans, and a couple more on tap to come. Our first Aquavit was "rye bread" - fantastic. Lightly sweet, with a yeasty, almost savory flavor. Wonderful sippin'. Through the meal we also had parsley - very herbacious, with a vegetal quality (maybe they used the parsley root as well?) - and finally roasted pumpkin. All were top-notch, and intensely aromatic.
For food, we had:
Herring Trio (Pics 2-4)
In the bowl: cured herring w/ cream, pickled onions, and endive.
In the mason jar: herring in curry vinaigrette w/ ginger & a touch of sour cream
On the plate: Warm fried sardine w/ spicy vinaigrette, pumpkin purée, onion rings and dill on buttered rye.
Pic 5: "Sugarsalted Salmon" (basically a gravlax without the dill) w/ watercress (raw and emulsion), pickled onions, endive & crispy rye crumbs
Pic 6: Panfried Whitefish, w/ green remoulade & herb salad
Pic 7: Free Range Pork Paté w/ parsley, aquavit and hazelnuts, kale crûdité and apples (pickled lingonberries on the menu, they must have run out - but who doesn't like apples with pork? I'm not complaining...)
Pic 8: Beef Tartare of w/ herb emulsion, cornichons, onion rings, and mini potato chips
Everything was, frankly, perfect. Now, regular Manhattan Chowhounders know I have a predilection for Nordic food - I've waxed poetic on Aquavit and ACME on these boards a number of times. But one thing we've lacked is a place doing this kind of casual fare - there's Smorgas Chef, yes, which is more along the lines of Scandinavian bistro food, and fine for what it is - but for the only other place in town at a similar price point, they're nowhere near the quality level of what A-C is putting out.
We were pretty stuffed after our smørrefest, but we managed to dig into a couple desserts, both excellent. A lemon custard with pickled blueberries and a dusting of malt powder - the hint of chalky bitterness from the malt a nice counterpoint to the sweetness. My favorite, though, was the Koldskål - a traditional cold buttermilk soup with honey-toasted oats, here refined with a hint of lemon verbena. Sweet, but not overly so. I could eat a bowl for breakfast every day. Pure comfort food. (Sorry, didn't get pics of the desserts.)
Personal favorite dish of the savories was the herring trio - as good as anything I've had at Aquavit. Especially the gingered herring (amazing) and the sardine. This isn't your grandpa's herring, that's for sure - rich, silky, delicate, spectacular. One of the herring preps was nearly identical to that of the salmon - which honestly was fine, delicious as it was.
All in all, extremely impressed with this new addition to our culinary landscape. It's an odd location (Laight St, just East of the Tribeca Film Fest theater) but those who work or live in SoHo or Tribeca would do well to give them a whirl for lunch or dinner - a couple of smørrebrød would make a decent lunch, three to five for dinner - we split seven between the two of us, and left perfectly satisfied. Is it a bit odd eating a series of open-face sandwiches for dinner? Maybe to us Americans. But if you don't think of them as sandwiches, maybe more like Danish tacos, it makes perfect sense. A great place to while away some time, sampling sandwiches and sipping a beer or two or three. Couldn't be happier to have them in town - very much worth checking out.
13 Laight St.
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