When you think of the food scene in Denmark, you most likely think of Copenhagen, and more specifically, the New Nordic movement and a certain handful of restaurants that seem to garner most of the international food press’s attention and appetites. But way up at the northern tip of Denmark, where the Skagerrak and Kattegat seas meet and the brisk sea air and unique northern light permeate every experience, a group of cooks, chefs, restaurateurs, and bartenders are steadily developing their own exciting food scene that takes the New Nordic guiding principles of locality, seasonality, and terroir to new heights.
Two of the dishes from a recent tasting menu at Textur
Located right in the heart of Aalborg, Restaurant Textur, helmed by the young and ambitious chef Dennis Juhl, offers a deft response to the New Nordic dining establishments of the capital down south. Dennis’s mantra is about sharing great food, made responsibly (and deliciously) with guests, without them having to break the bank for a 3-5 course New Nordic meal. In line with this, Textur changes their menu every two weeks to reflect the seasonality of the area. The ambiance is sophisticated yet welcoming and Dennis and his team couldn’t be nicer!
Dennis Juhl, Restaurant Textur
Click here to explore the North Jutland food scene with Dennis.
Carlo preparing pasta in the La Locanda kitchen
The windy north coast of Denmark might not be the first place you’d think to find exquisite Italian food, but chef Carlo Liberati has been serving up just that in his adopted home for over 25 years. In fact, his restaurant, La Locanda, on CW Obels Place in Central Aalborg, has been voted best Italian restaurant in Denmark. Carlo makes traditional and authentic Italian food using local produce from the North Jutland area. And if you’re looking for something quicker and more casual, you can always stop by his other restaurant, La Bottega.
Carlo Liberati, Owner, La Locanda
Sashimi at Restaurant Fusion
Head towards the harbour until you've almost fallen in and you'll find from another local standout, Restaurant Fusion. Chef Vin Quc Du, as the restaurant's name implies, brings together the very best of Danish and Asian cuisine, using local fresh ingredients (that seems to be a theme, doesn’t it?) to create a modern Asian offering. Whether you go for the 3-6 course dinners or some excellent takeaway sushi, Restaurant Fusion is a must-try. And while there, why not take a stroll around The Utzon Center, The Aalborg Harbour Bath, or The House of Music, all very close by Fusion?
Restaurant Fusion in Aalborg
Just outside Restaurant Fusion, you'll find the Aalborg Harbour (pictured below), which, during summer months, is alive with activity: swimmers in the harbour bath, waterskiiers and leisure cruisers in their sailboats, families walking their dogs, and couples picnicking. It's a great way to get an insider's glimpse into the everyday life of the people of Aalborg.
The harbour bath at the Aalborg harbor
A short drive north from Aalborg takes you to Skagen. A must-see in North Jutland, Skagen is known for its historic artistic community and the beach that marks the very northern tip of Denmark where two seas meet. Here, you'll find a number of great gastronomic experiences, including the Skagen Fish Auction where chefs from all over North Jutland travel to see what's fresh today.
View from the beach, North Jutland
Langostine at the Skagen Fish Auction
You don’t have to fly to Tokyo to visit a working fish auction. The Skagen Fish Auction, while smaller than even the Hanstholm fish auction a couple hours west, is nevertheless a bustling place to see first-hand the bounty offered by the waters around North Jutland (28 species of fish and counting)- a bounty which local restaurants are all too quick to snatch up. And the fish auction's manageable size makes it easy to bump into new friends you might just see behind the counter during dinner service later in the evening. And the best part? You don’t have to arrive at the crack of dawn, as the action has a second run at 10am every summer weekday.
Jan Nielsen, Buyer at Skagen Fish Auction
Ruths Brasserie just before lunch service
In the old town of Skagen (known locally as Gammel Skagen, or "old Skagen") is the local institution of Ruths Hotel and its two restaurants, Ruths Brasserie and Ruths Gourmet. Founded in 1904, the hotel and restaurants have hosted all sorts of vacationers and the owners pride themselves on high-quality, personal service without the stuffiness of other luxury spots. Both Ruths Brasserie and Ruths Gourmet serve modern takes on traditional Danish dishes, with a French influence and locally caught seafood from the Skagen Fish Auction. The Brasserie is the more casual of the two and serves lunch, while Ruths Gourmet serves three different menus that can be paired with wine. While there, also consider the hotel’s excellent spa treatment if you’re feeling extra indulgent.
Jan Ludvigsen, Storyteller/Host at Ruths Hotel
Mai Manaa, Co-owner, Hanstholm Madbar
Two hours southwest of Skagen on the beautiful west-coast sits the sleepy fishing village of Hanstholm where a newcomer has made quite a splash in town, creating a cool and casual place for everyone to come together and enjoy a meal, a drink, or just some hygge. That place is the functionally titled Hanstholm Madbar (“food bar" in English). Madbar, perched on a hill with beautiful views of the beach, sea, and the nearby National Park Thy, serves up classic Danish dishes made with care to hungry hikers, cyclists, and windsurfers. The restaurant was built by three former Copenhageners who, in an effort to get away from the big city life, set up this de facto community centre that also serves as a stage for concerts, comedy nights, and even offers a wellness & spa package. You can also book rooms and apartments upstairs from the Madbar and make it your base camp as you adventure out to the Hantstholm lighthouse or National Park Thy right next door.
Andreas Lynnerup from Limfjords Museum
Did you know that some of the world’s best oysters come from Denmark? Less than an hour east of Hanstholm you’ll find Limfjord, home to the Limfjord Oysters- some of the last remaining European wild oysters left. They exist at the northern edge of the habitat for the original European Flat Oysters and offer the kind of terroir-rich experience that the best cold water seafood can provide. Thankfully, these oysters live in a protected habitat and are carefully managed by the local government. In North Jutland, eating them is just half the fun. Make sure to head out for a two-hour excursion with the Danish Shellfish Center and hunt for oysters yourself. Just don’t forget the white wine!
Dennis Juhl of Restaurant Textur and Andreas Lynnerup hunting for Limfjord Oysters
Waterskiers in Aalborg Harbor, just outside Restaurant Fusion
How to get there: North Jutland is easily reachable via London Stansted, with Ryanair flying to Aalborg 3x weekly. Click here to look at flight options.
Fly to Aalborg Airport (AAL) from London Stansted (STN) with Ryanair, 3 flights per week, 1.5 hours flight time.
Once there, North Jutland is easily traversed by rental car, also the most scenic way to around.