This summer we decided to check out the Danish island of Funen. I’ve wanted to go here ever since the Danish Christmas lunch I attended last year, which gave me a taste of the area’s produce. Funen, or Fyn which is the local name, is Denmark’s third largest island and home of the third biggest city – Odense. Check my foodie guide to Odense for the best eats in the hometown of famous writer H.C. Andersen. Fyn is often referred to as Denmark’s garden, and that’s easy to understand when you drive around in a car and see the wonderful nature here. We drove across the great belt bridge from Zealand, where we had visited Rønnede Kro and Hotel Frederiksminde. Our destination this afternoon was only a 5-minute drive from where the bridge connects to the mainland: Restaurant Lieffroy in Nyborg.
When in Nyborg – Stay at Hotel Hesselet
Nyborg is a tiny city in the north-eastern part of Fyn. Since Restaurant Lieffroy doesn’t offer accommodation you have to find somewhere else to stay, and the hotel next door seems like a good option. I’ve included our visit to Hotel Hesselet (ad: affiliate link) and the lunch we ate there at the end of this story.
A Restaurant With a Long History
To make a long story short: the dad, Jean-Louis Lieffroy, found his way from France to Denmark and in 1971 he started working at the now famous tavern and restaurant Falsled Kro. Four years later he was promoted to head chef and remained so for another impressive 34 years until he suddenly retired in 2008. Rumors about a disagreement with the owners, the Grønlykke family, are widespread. I can imagine the Lieffroys are dead tired of hearing about these speculations, yet they were hardly able to restrain their dismay for Falsled Kro when we mentioned we were going there the next day.
The Father, the Son, and the New House
The son, Patrick Lieffroy, was sous chef at Falsled Kro for 12 years and quit less than a year after his dad left. In 2010 he bought the current Lieffroy restaurant building. The location in Nyborg was perfect, with its proximity to the forest as well as a spectacular view of the beach, the sea and the bridge that connects Funen to Zealand. Luckily, Patrick was able to convince his dad to help out in the kitchen even after his retirement age. The house needed major renovations, though, to end up looking as beautiful as it does today.
Rustic and Modern at the Same Time
We parked the car outside and entered “Hesselhuset” as the old building is called. It was a windy day, but inside the temperature was pleasant and wonderful aromas filled the air. The kitchen at Lieffroy is semi-open, which means you can peek in from the main room. The restaurant is somewhat rustic with white painted brick walls and wooden beams in the ceiling, but other than that the interior feels rather elegant and modern. Like the beautiful ceramics: a mix of Royal Copenhagen, K H Würtz and possibly some other brands, if I am not mistaken.
French Techniques and Danish Aesthetics
The Lieffroys wanted a restaurant with top quality produce and affordable prices. In that, they have succeeded. A three-course menu is priced at DKK 395, which is within the price-qualifications of a Bib Gourmand rating. If the Michelin inspectors pay a visit they will obviously evaluate that up against the quality, though. While the style is undoubtedly more French than new Nordic, the father and son are not stuck in the past either. In terms of both presentation and flavor, I found a lot of the dishes to be very satisfying. Patrick and Jean-Louis are skilled in French techniques but have mastered the Danish sense of aesthetics as well.
The Favorite and the Disappointments
My favorite dish from this meal was the catch of the day. A delicate piece of fish fried between two thin slices of bread served with fresh peas, gherkins, small tomatoes, herbs from the garden and an espuma Hollandaise sauce. This dish seems to have become a classic on the new Lieffroy menu, which is understandable. It’s that irresistible combination of light and rich flavors and different textures. However, I struggled more to understand why they would serve such a huge piece of meat, next to a big white asparagus, as main course. Although, the worst disappointment by far was the foie gras dish. “It’s been on Jean-Louis’ menu for more than 30 years,” the waiter told us. Time to kill your darlings, I would say. The raspberry sauce was way too sweet, and that mix of wild rice and maize is just not very tasty.
Keep up the Good Work and it Might Pay Off!
Restaurant Lieffroy in Nyborg is a place I will recommend to anyone who’s headed to Fyn. Don’t drive through the island without stopping here! All in all, we had a wonderful meal, with the most spectacular view on the entire island. The kitchen and the wait staff truly put their hearts into pleasing their customers, and most of the dishes are very enjoyable – both to look at and eat. With a few minor adjustments, I wouldn’t be surprised if they were awarded a Bib Gourmand at some point.
Lunch the Next Day at Hotel Hesselet
The next day we ate lunch at Hotel Hesselet (affiliate link to booking.com). This family-run hotel is the most obvious place to stay if you truly want to enjoy Nyborg for at least a day or two. You can enjoy the same wonderful surroundings and almost the same view of the sea as you get at Lieffroy. The hotel dates back to the late 1960s but is well-kept and the original style is preserved, although there’s also a modern extension.
Hotel owner Steen Sørensen showed us to our table, and poured the wine, while chef Lasse Paulsen created a three-course lunch menu for us. Apart from the main course I quite liked their presentations, but it’s interesting to see how even an old hotel like Hesselet is trying rather hard to adapt to the modern Danish cuisine. The technical cooking skills were not on par with the Lieffroy team, though, and some of the ingredients weren’t as fresh as they should have been, but we had a nice lunch anyway.
Did you stop by Lieffroy on your Fyn journey? Please leave a comment below.