To anyone who pays a bit of attention to the world of restaurants, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that snobbing down is a trend in the industry. Fine dining restaurants are getting less formal, or they open up more relaxed sister restaurants. White tablecloths and dress codes are out (with some exceptions, of course). Everything is more affordable and available. The idea has been, that, especially in these harsher economic times, average Joe should still be able to dine out, even on a regular Monday, without being ruined or feeling alienated.
Noma in Copenhagen helped fuel this trend, which started many years ago, but a booking at their mothership is still one of the hardest achievements in the culinary world. (PS: Reservations for Noma 2.0 went out yesterday at 4 PM – did you secure yours? Waiting lists are already in the thousands …) In recent years, Redzepi and his team has branched out and invested heavily in more casual eateries. First, Hija de Sanchez, then 108, and now, recently, restaurant Barr. You may have heard about the latter already, but did you know that you can actually drop by without a reservation and just grab a beer in the bar of Barr? They’ll even serve you some excellent snack-sized dishes to match.
Trust the Bar Manager – Andreas Pedersen
When I visited Copenhagen this summer I dined three times at Barr, but the last time I didn’t have a booking. Instead, I aimed straight for the bar, where a familiar face welcomed me. Andreas Pedersen is a Norwegian beer geek who has been lost to the wonderful city of Copenhagen for some years already. The first time I met him was at Mikkeller & Friends on Stefansgade in the Nørrebro district – and that must have been more than three years ago. He has since worked as the master brewer at Amager Bryghus. Today, he is the bar manager of Barr.
– What would you like? he asks.
– What do you have? I reply.
– We have about 20 different beers on tap and 70 by the bottle – more than 90 beers in total. There’s something to suit everyone’s taste.
He hands me the menu, and I quickly realize that beers at Barr are sorted by their flavor profile. Although I do find the world of craft beer interesting, I am not much into the typical geek favorites like hop, malt, smoke, or roast. However, both crisp, spice & fruit, and tart & funk are definitely more to my personal preference. As with white wine, I am usually looking for something refreshing, light, and with a nice balance between acidity and fruitiness. Funky and sour doesn’t scare me off, but heavy, rich, dark, caramelized beers are not my thing. Just like I dislike most dessert wines, port, sherry, and so forth. On Andreas’ recommendation, I choose a light and fruity beer. He explains that the beer is a cooperation between restaurant Barr and another brewery.
World Class Bar Snacks
I ask for the bar menu. The short, but tempting, list of snacks features items like grilled duck hearts, pickled egg southern Jutland-style (Black Sun), and salt cake – that’s a savory pastry made with dark beer and topped with dried cheese.
– I’m a big fan of the salt cake. It’s delicious, Pedersen exclaims.
I have to agree with him. The salt cake is the winner for me too. I can imagine that most of this food would pair well with all sorts of beers, also the heavier ones for those who prefer that. Forget chips and peanuts. This is simply a bar with world-class snacks. To me, the bar of Barr is the easiest way to get a Noma-esque atmosphere and great food in Copenhagen, without a reservation. It’s the kind of place you can drop by anytime, just to get a beer or a bit of snack, or both, whether it’s with friends or family or co-workers. A perfect pre-dinner meetup or lazy Sunday hangout.