I can’t believe it’s already a year ago since we visited Falsled Kro. Located in the tiny town of Faldsled on Funen, the third-largest island of Denmark, connected to Zealand in the east and Jutland in the west. Only 500 people live here, so obviously, the eatery caters to a much larger audience than just the locals. People travel from near and afar to experience the French-Danish cuisine set at a rural seaside village. The combined inn and restaurant has a long history, that even includes some rumors of drama. Still today, Falsled Kro is the pride of Funen and the main culinary destination of the area.
Worth a Detour
My friend Rasmus Palsgård, better known as his alias Feinschmeckeren, thinks Falsled Kro should have been rewarded a star long ago. The place certainly fits into the Michelin Guide’s description of being worth a detour. However, it seems the French guide has not found their way to this particular gem yet. Maybe they drove straight past the tavern. After all, the old inn could easily have been overlooked where it’s located in the midst of a road curve.
The Old Country Inn
We arrived at Falsled Kro on a sunny day in late May. Standing on the patio, about to enter room no. 1 of the old country inn, we saw the head chef throwing sticks and playing with his dogs in the yard. Ah, rural life! Luckily, we had a spectacular view to the flower-rich garden from our suite as well. There are only 10 rooms connected to the main building, but three more in Ryttergården and another six in Sognegården – two individual buildings that belong to Falsled Kro. Our room stretched across two floors. We entered into a sort of lounge area with large windows overlooking the back yard and the smoking oven, with the sea in the far distance. Through the next doorway was the common room complete with a fireplace, two safari chairs, and a liqueur table. As well as a beautifully designed bathroom with colorful hand-painted Spanish tiles and a vintage-style bathtub and sinks. Up the stairs were two bedrooms that could have hosted an entire family.
The Short History of Falsled Kro
I won’t bore you with a long history lesson, but the short version is nice to know. Falsled Kro dates back to the early 1500s, but the tavern as we know it today is the 1970s version, bought and reconstructed by Lene and Sven Grønlykke. The same family who would later start the exceptional chocolate factory Summerbird (fun fact: it was named thus because Sven thought the Danish word sommerfugl directly translated to summerbird – the correct being butterfly, of course).
French chef Jean-Louis Lieffroy was hired to run the kitchen, and he did so with great success for almost 40 years. He retired but later went on to help his son run restaurant Lieffroy, which we also visited on the same trip. Rumor has it his retirement might not have been totally voluntary, but I won’t speculate further. Today, Per Hallundbæk is in charge of the cooking. Per had a history of 10 years at the Norwegian restaurant and hotel Engø Gård, where he lifted the cooking to new levels. When Hallundbæk left Engø Gård he was replaced by another Dane – Ulrik Jepsen. He, in turn, soon went on to open the fabulous French restaurant À L’aise in Oslo.
Funen is Denmark’s Garden
I first met chef Hallundbæk at restaurant Statholdergaarden in Oslo, where he taught a small group of Norwegian food writers how to make specialties from Funen. He was invited by Bent Stiansen, who is an official friend of Funen and has a summer house on the island. Stiansen’s recommendations were amongst the basis of my foodie guide to the best restaurants in Odense – the island’s main city. Funen is often referred to as Denmark’s garden, because of the lush pasture lands and green orchards. Half-timbered, thatched-roof farmhouses like Falsled Kro is not an uncommon sight.
Per Hallundbæk’s Falsled Kro
Chef Hallundbæk’s menu at Falsled Kro is definitely French in its expression, but with a clear Nordic signature as well. At Falsled Kro, he grows his own vegetables, fruits, and berries and for the winter season he pickles, dries, and preserves to maintain the local flavors. We got a beautiful oyster serving with salty white currants, grapes, and flowers from the garden. An equally stunning caviar dish came with cauliflower, almonds, and olive oil. Our favorite serving, however, was the signature dish of deep-fried egg with wild onions. Rich sauces, reductions, foams, and purees accompanied most of the dishes, and the meal ended with an extravagant French cheese trolley. Lord have mercy.
Breakfast at the Inn
After a heavy meal the previous evening, we slept well into the next morning but somehow woke up hungry. Luckily, Falsled Kro also serves a hearty Danish breakfast. Including a bitter made from the tavern’s own herb garden, egg, sausage and bacon, bread and butter, ham and cheese, and, of course, the Funen specialty: rygeost. Smoked fresh cheese. Just like Per Hallundbæk had brought to Oslo. Worth a detour? Definitely!
Do you know other great country inns like Falsled Kro? Please share in a comment below.