After a couple of days of eating in Copenhagen’s top restaurants, one cannot help but feel that a lot of the food here is fairly abstract and not necessarily the kind that has you craving for more. To our great surprise one of the most memorable dishes was the humble tartar that we were served – not in a gastro-temple – but at Manfreds, the quirky wine bar run by Relae’s Christian Puglisi.
Puglisi is one of the most interesting figures on Copenhagen’s dining scene, running both Relae and Manfreds, but also Baest, where his team serves superb pizza and homemade charcuterie. Whilst Relae takes itself fairly seriously, and serves its very own interpretation of Nordic food, Manfreds is the polar opposite: it’s a place that feels cosy, relaxed and almost makes you feel at home from the moment you step in.
The interior exudes a sense of warmth that is decidedly Scandinavian and combines excellently with the welcoming and incredibly friendly service. The staff here seems so passionate about the food and wine they serve that you cannot help but get on the bandwagon and sit back and relax.
Wine is a big part of what this hipster place does: it’s wine room sells mostly natural wines at surprisingly fair prices for Scandinavian standards, and a dialogue with the sommeliers makes clear that they know what they’re talking about here. Instead of pushing something on you, they listen to you and come up with inspired suggestions. The enthusiasm goes as far as them coming with a couple of glasses here and there “to try”, which is what hospitality really should be about.
What about that tartar? For most of who have come to Manfreds this dish what the restaurant is all about, and Puglisi even claims that it is the reason why Manfreds exists. The process of making it is unlike a traditional tartar in that the beef is salted and then chilled in the freezer for an hour before being ground in a meat grinder. The beef is served with an egg-based emulsion and young cress and some breadcrumbs. The result is a dish that is so moreish and delicious that you could easily eat it every single day of the year.
If you were to ask us what dish really makes a trip to Copenhagen worth it, a meal at Manfreds and its tartar would be the first thing that comes to mind. In a city that is fascinating, but focused on serving intellectually challenging food, this is soul food of the highest order. That makes it a must-visit in the capital of New Nordic cooking.