Sunday, 21 June 2015

[Burger Tour] Burgers in Copenhagen

With last week’s burger tour in Oslo still fresh on the palate, my next visit to Scandinavia takes me to Copenhagen – home to 1.5million Danes and arguably the most progressive of the Scandic bloc (although the Swedes, Finns, and Norwegians would disagree, I’m sure).
Arriving into Copenhagen airport in strong winds, horizontal rain, and darkened cloudy skies – it’s not the most conducive conditions for a walking burger tour of the city, but that’s why I’m here, so off we go.


Tommi’s Burger Joint

Part of the Icelandic chain’s expansion, Tommi’s in Copenhagen is based in the Meat Packing District – a formerly industrial, and more recently office based part of town – Tommi’s joins barbecue and craft beer joint Warpigs as one of a number of new, entrepreneurial food concepts springing up in the area, the low rents reducing barriers to entry. And it’s packed. There are people queueing out the door (in the rain) to get some Tommi’s burger action, and the small inside space is filled with the smells of grilling burgers and metal music.

We go for a cheeseburger, and a cheeseburger with bacon.

There are some fundamental differences between the Tommi’s burger in London, and the one in Copenhagen. The first, and most obvious, is the grilling method. The patties are cooked on a chargrill – the super-hot bars of the grill searing dark char-lines into the patty. As we all know (or I hope you do by now) this fundamentally changes the flavour of the beef patty. In London, on the flat-top grill, the beef forms an even, caramelised crust, sealing in the juice and fat for a fantastic. In Copenhagen the meat is dryer, it’s not that it lacks juice but it doesn’t’ give that same creamy, juicy hit. And the charring changes that mellow, tallowy burger we know and love into something altogether more ‘steak house’. That said, the burger was cooked medium and the meat was pretty good. I understand they use Irish beef…


The bacon, to me, suffers from the same over-charring, making it acrid and destroying the essence of bacon-ness. The cheese is decent, a cheddar rather than American, but rather than melting it on the griddle, it’s blowtorched before being dressed in the bun – normal practice? Who knows. The other toppings are decent – a tomato, onion, mayo mix, and a leaf of lettuce finish this off simply – but as in other Tommi’s joints you can accessorise with a wide selection of other condiments.

Out of the two, I far preferred the cheeseburger.

7/10
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Sliders

Sliders is a new kid on the block when it comes to burgers in Copenhagen. Putting aside  my strong dislike of the word ‘slider’ to denote a mini-burger – it’s not – this place has been hailed as one of the best burgers in the city, so it would be churlish to miss it just because of my sensitivities to the term.
The Sliders concept is simple. Choose from a menu of nine different mini burgers for c. £4.5 each, or have a flight of three, plus a side, for about £12. They then arrive wrapped up like a goody bag from a celebrity fragrance launch and you have the pleasure of unpacking and unwrapping them.


There are three beef-based burgers, three pork, a duck, a veggie, and an ox on the menu – with a choice of four sides. I went for the three burgers that were based around a beef patty – which were impressively all cooked a perfect medium rare. The buns on all the burgers were a standard toasted white bun.

Triple Truffle Cheese
 Three layers cheese (brie, parmesan and blue) combine with a layer of earthy, umami-laden truffle mayonnaise, and braised mushrooms, to completely smother the small, but perfectly medium-rare beef patty. It’s a super-richly flavoured burger, and the three cheese combo doesn’t do enough to cut through the overwhelming creaminess of the mushroom and truffle mayo. I couldn’t eat more than one.

7/10

Little Miss Fatty
This pepper, chilli, almond and onion mayonnaise topping this burger is not quite as strange as it sounds – it packs some warming heat, but not a lot else. The genius here is the pickled squash which adds both acidity and a great crunch as you bite through it. The cheddar and bacon are secondary flavours that last long after the hit of squash dissipates on your palate.

8/10

Butter corn beef

Oh. My. God. Sometimes it’s the simple things that surprise you, and man was this a surprise. Topped simply with a layer of butter-dressed sweetcorn and chopped up rashers of salty, streaky bacon, this burger is awesome. The sweetness of the corn, creaminess of the butter, and the crunchy salty pieces of bacon all combine in the perfect quantities to make you never want to stop eating it. This burger will put a smile on your face.

9.5/10
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Burger & Bun

From Michelin-starred chef Henrick Yde (starred for his modern Thai restaurant in Copenhagen, Kiin Kiin), Burger & Bun is a fully organic burger restaurant, preparing everything in-house except for the minced beef for the patties.

The menus here are colourful stylised versions of the burgers you order – and we have a selection focused around countries of the world…now, I always get slightly worried when chefs interpret a national stereotype and transform it into a burger. So we ordered The American, and The Mexican.

The American

On paper this burger has everything you need for a classic American burger – bacon, cheese, pickles, chopped iceberg and mayo on a sesame seeded bun.

However, it doesn’t quite pull it off. The cheddar cheese lacks punch, the house pickles have no acidity, the mild onion is indiscernible and while the crispy sesame seeds on the bun give a great crunch, the bun itself strangely collapses into nothingness. Of everything, it’s the bacon that really shows its quality – properly crispy thin strips of streaky bacon that crunch beautifully. The beef is very good, evenly seasoned and has a decent fat content, but it’s cooked more than the medium rare requested.

The American cheeseburger flavours are there, but it’s missing that vital acidity hit to balance it all up. It lacks harmony.

6/10

The Mexican
Take the comments above about the bun and the beef. Actually, you can also take the comment about harmony, too. The one enduring flavour in this burger is the chilli guacamole. It’s a sharp, dry heat that has huge length on the palate, with no relief from the tomato salsa it’s also topped with. It’s laudable that Burger&Bun is doing everything organically, but the chemistry needs some work.

5/10
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Halifax
 This was the final burger joint we visited. With six branches, it’s also one of the most established in the city – and there are a number of comparisons you can draw with Byron in the UK.
First of all, it offers a simple menu. You choose your style of burger from a range (including the ‘Liverpool’ which has an egg and HP sauce), then you choose from two types of bun – a sesame-seeded white bun or a denser wholemeal one, your meat – beef, chicken, green pea or chick pea, one of four sides, and a dip.

The Nakskov

This is a Danish take on a bacon cheeseburger, with remoulade (a combination of mayo, mustard, capers, onion and a hint of curry), and it’s pretty good. The cheddar is medium strength and balances against the crunchy rashers of salted bacon and the slightly sweet but crunchy fried onions. Remoulade and mustard give a moreish bite to the whole thing – something that had been lacking from all of the previous burgers we’d had in Copenhagen that evening. The house-pickled pickles are, frankly, fantastic. So fantastic, I took a box home. The bun, however, was a bit of a flop. Toasted on top of the top bun (but not inside) and inside the bottom bun (but not underneath) and lacking in flavour on its own.

The harmony is there. This is a pretty decent burger.

8.5/10 
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So there we have my burger adventurers guide to the Copenhagen burger scene.

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