Aarhus, on the east coast of Denmark’s Jutland peninsula, is a little overlooked as a destination (an understandable fate as just over 300,000 people call the pleasant town home). However, a community of chefs and producers here are making waves in a fast-improving food scene.
“Three years ago the food in Aarhus was all the same – people weren’t trying new things,” says Rune Lund Sørensen, one of the owners of Haervaerk, a restaurant that sources almost all of its produce from farms within 45km. The narrow no-frills dining room has a menu that shifts regularly (according to what’s bountiful that week) and is peppered with approachable natural wines.
At Restaurant Domestic, more avant-garde plates are served in an industrial space with exposed beams and bare brick walls in which plenty of ingredients are also pickled ahead of the long, barren winter. Easygoing Sårt, with its low ceilings and candlelit charm, serves regional charcuterie that is produced on the restaurant’s nearby farm. The kitchen is rooted in eastern rather than northern European influences and prepares dishes that are playfully different from anywhere else in town; it still relies on local produce but isn’t afraid of asking producers to fulfil unusual orders.
“There’s so much depth in eastern European kitchens,” says Martin Fryd, one of the owners. “We use local ingredients but if we want artichokes we’ll just ask a farmer to grow them.”
restaurant-haervaerk.dk; restaurantdomestic.dk; saart.dk
Lisbon’s glitzy shopping street, Avenida da Liberdade, now has a restaurant to match the swish retailers. Jncquoi has a deli-cum-bar on the lower ground floor and a restaurant on the floor above; a third space, a Ladurée tea salon, opened in October. The interior by Catalan architect Lázaro Rosa-Violán features plenty of marble, leather, wood and brass. The food by Portuguese chef Antonio Boia is indulgent. In the restaurant choose from fish, meat and rice dishes or sit at the bar and order fresh seafood and cocktails. The lobster sandwich is among the standouts and maître d’ Antonio Alves can help with wines.
Les Grands Verres
Quixotic Projects has turned its hospitable hand to Les Grands Verres at the Palais de Tokyo art museum. The restaurant, café and rangy bar counter have been designed by Parisian agency Lina Ghotmeh. US chef Preston Miller cooks everything from shawarma to spiralini pasta with clams, best preceded by cocktails by Hyacinthe Lescoët.
Oficina (“workshop” in Portuguese) is an apt name for this restaurant-cum-gallery in a former garage. The original iron struts used by mechanics all remain, as do the now-polished concrete floors and exposed wood beams. The project is the work of gallerist Fernando Santos and the three-floor space features Portuguese art, including a striking Pedro Cabrita Reis light installation on the roof terrace. Chef Marco Gomes serves a modern Portuguese menu and the weekday lunch option, which includes a glass of wine, is good value.
London’s Japan Centre has moved over the years but its latest address in Piccadilly has enabled it to upgrade its food offering. Descend to a basement food-court lined with groceries, ceramics, tea and saké. The bustling kitchen serves a range of dishes from ramen to bento boxes. It’s busy, it’s brilliant and it’s a fix for the city’s Japanophiles – where else can you buy a copy of Casa Brutus or Osaka-style octopus balls? Itadakimasu!
Doves, in Wicker Park, doesn’t aim to wow with a new-as-old look or done-to-death cosiness; instead it trades on chef Dennis Bernard’s southern specials. Think buttermilk-fried chicken or burnt-end brisket. The counter-top bistro – all wood, leather and barstools – is a paean to times past.
Yoleni’s began online four years ago and now its seven-storey building in the Kolonaki neighbourhood stocks more than 1,000 products. There’s a butcher, a room dedicated to olive oil and a cookery school too. The interior is the work of Athens-based Gruppo Decorativo. We’d advise the rooftop café for hand-stuffed Halkidiki olives washed down with a golden beer from Tinos.
Restaurateurs from down under are finding fresh customers in Japan. Sydney stalwarts The Apollo and Fratelli Fresh have both opened spaces in Tokyo, while Longrain has opened in Shibuya. An Osaka outpost also recently joined chef Bill Granger’s openings in Tokyo, Kanagawa and Fukuoka.
Restaurateur Miranda Pontes is a tastemaker in the southern states of the US. Originally from New Orleans, she relocated to Nashville and brought her love of simple, delicious food with her when she opened her first spot in 2004. Pontes now has 10 restaurants in town.
Her latest venture is Lulu, a mini food shop and restaurant. A neon sign above the counter reads “Yes to all”, a nod to Pontes’ mission to democratise good food and foster thoughtful consumption. The furniture comes courtesy of Danish firm Gubi and a display show by local artists. Her next restaurant in Germantown? Already on the way.