15ºc, blue sky, sunny and dry. Can’t believe how beautiful it is.
Lubricated or more aptly, buttered bread, the literal translation. Five generations producing humble tummy fillers to perfection.
Ida Davidsen is open Monday to Fridays from 10am to 5pm. Kitchen closes at 4pm. Framed sepia photos of the family from days gone by, decorate the walls together with faded certificates of all shapes and sizes. It’s busy, all tables taken in the dark, candle lit basement, on a sunny afternoon. The famed Queen of Smørrebrød, herself at the counter. Big grin, full of verve explaining repeatedly in both English and Danish what was on offer to the queue of “Jar-Jar Binks” waiting their turn patiently. Ida, in regulation chef’s whites, a motived chef’s hat and a pair of white Crocs, with socks, of course. A true culinary icon, professional to the hilt.
The system has changed. On my last visit you were ushered to your table and a menu was handed to you for a slow perusal. Full service. You walked to the counter on the side to see what the real smørrebrød looked like before confirming your order. Today, each customer is taken to a numbered table and when ready, to go to the counter. There, you feast your eyes on the offerings and Ida will write down the chosen ones on your bill. Return to your numbered table and the sandwiches will appear, one at the time, either directly from the counter or a fresh one is made from the kitchen below.
At your table a card with a list of Danish Aquavit is awaiting. Each pictured bottle with concise notes and suggested food. Make your choice and the bottle, freezer cold, is brought to the table with a triangular schnapps flute. Olé then pours and does not stop till the liquid fills to the brim.
Ida herself at the counter packed with the ‘tesoro’. Rows of beautifully assembled open sandwiches, each made with love.
With great difficulty, my choice included a raw salmon, crayfish, sweet prawns and *cavi-art (artificial caviar, made from seaweed) on white bread and a fresh cods roe, crayfish and radish sprouts on rugbrød. There is a slice of bread under the weight of topping!
Ambiance is mixed. Japanese and EU tourists with guide books, men in suits, ladies lunching to two little old dears busy communicating in sign language next to me. Is sign language universal? I pondered for a while and decided it was too heavy a topic to contemplate. Switched off and watched Olé so expertly pouring aquavit into glasses.
The restaurant was closed for 5 months due to a fire in the kitchen and only reopened in November 2011, Olé tells me as he takes my credit card. Interestingly, I am not charged extra for using my mastercard. There is a 12% fee if Amex is used. I ask Olé if it was OK to take photographs and with a positive nod, I hurriedly did my bit before he changed his mind. Ida offered herself for the photocall and gave the most gorgeous smile. Before I left a big hug and a peck on my cheek she bid me farewell.
Earl of Sandwich eat your heart out! There is time to enjoy a good sandwich, if assembled nicely!
*CaviArt or Caviar? I am not convinced the eco friendly longer lasting veggie version satisfies my foodie appetite. The colour is not appealing and I question the dyes and E numbers used in making. Marketing hype or what? Totally agree that our world is being destroyed by over fishing, over eating etc but surely, if we ate less of a good thing? Research and harvesting zillion tons of seaweed from the same ocean source, then changing it’s consistency, wasting loads of valuable energy resources, building huge factories surely outweighs a smaller portion of the REAL lumpfish or salmon roe.