Thursday, January 25th 2019 – Anarki, Copenhagen
January was mostly quiet, if you ignore the massive birthday party I threw in the second week, and meant that there wasn’t a great deal to write about. However, I did have another business trip to Copenhagen, and having stayed one night longer than my fellow non-Danish colleagues I was left with the question of where to eat on my last night in town. I considered going somewhere I already knew, but then decided that I should nose around the various guides and see what else appealed that was a) within walking distance and b) inside my budget. And thus I found myself wandering around Fredriksberg in the dark on a freezing cold night trying to locate Anarki. My map was on the small side, and the directions were slightly unclear but after probably an extra five minutes walking I located the place, from the outside an unassuming neighbourhood restaurant of the sort we just don’t have in the UK in any sort of numbers. It looked full.
However, nothing daunted I stuck my head in the door and asked if they could seat me. I was quite prepared to fall back on Plan B if necessary, but as it turned out I was in luck. There was a small table available between two already fully occupied tables. These tables are wedged in pretty close together, which I eventually concluded is a result of the cost of everything in Copenhagen, and the relative cheapness of the menu at this cosy establishment. I took a look at the wine list looking for something by the glass and opted for a glass of Champagne (for a really quite reasonable 100Kr) which was quickly supplied and quite generously filled up with Champagne Huré Frères, Invitation, Brut a lovely fresh fruity example from a supplier I’d not heard of before.
It was time to study the menu. The restaurant website claims that “We are not compromised by having to cook only French or Italian but can, as we don’t have any dogmas, let us inspire and travel (metaphorically speaking) all around the world.” That said, the menu had a distinctly south-western French feel to me, with duck, salt cod and truffles appearing in some profusion. Between that, and the spelling of the name, I was picking up the sort of vibes I get in Pau, though without the balmy temperatures given it was January and about -3°C (26.6°F) out there! It was much warmer in the restaurant thankfully. After some consideration I decided that actually there really isn’t any such thing as too much duck, and so I ordered a snack, a starter and a main, all containing the said avian speciality. A carafe of water arrived along with a container of bread crusty, white bread.
It was quickly joined by a sizeable plate of duck rillette, studded with mustard seeds, and piled with tiny cornichons. It was rich and fibrous, and delicious, and I ate a lot more of it than I needed (and also consequently a lot more bread than was good for me – but it was tasty and texture was perfect with the meaty treat), accompanied by the rather splendid tarragon mustard, which was sharp and herby and cut through the fattiness of the meat. I did only eat about half of the cornichons though, crunchy though they were.
I finished my Champagne and ordered a glass of red wine to go with the next two courses, both of which were going to be extremely meaty. The Domaine Marc Roy, Bourgogne Rouge seemed to be the perfect solution. It certainly went very nicely with the starter of duck hearts, which were finely chopped, seasoned beautifully, and piled on top of a slice of sourdough toast. This really wasn’t the place for anyone trying to avoid gluten, or carbs for that matter. As I’m not doing either of those things, and I’d banged in a 9k run along the harbourside before work, I was quite happy to scarf it all down, savouring the rarely seen offal. I would possibly have preferred them slightly less chopped, and slightly more rare, but it was a glorious plateful of seriously deeply satisfying gorgeousness.
The crockery is all second-hand and old and rather splendid, with some of the sort of plates your grandmother might have used back in the day. The mains, however, seem to arrive on large platters or in copper pans. Mine certainly did, with a warning not to touch because it was hot. In it was the chef, Rune Sauer Sonnichsen’s, take on a cassoulet, which would probably have had him run out of France pretty damn quick by the traditionalists. It was really, really good, but he had definitely stamped his own mark on it, with tiny little beans coated in tomatoey sauce, chunks of duck meat and offal and morteau sausage veined through it, and with a topping of crunchy sourdough breadcrumbs adding texture to the dish. I took a couple of large spoonfuls, and worked my way through them, and then another, and another. It was behaving like a traditional cassoulet in at least one respect, because for every spoonful I removed from the pan, there seemed to be just as much or even more left in the pan when I looked next!
I really didn’t want to send any of it back to the kitchen, but eventually I had to concede. If I’d not been flying home the following afternoon without a hold baggage reservation I’d have asked them to pack it up for me. I reckon it would have done me for lunch for a couple of days. However, that wasn’t an option and so I asked for the bill which was pretty moderate by CPH standards, and eventually gathered the courage to go outside into the freezing weather and battle my way back to the Hotel Danmark.