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Say hello to smushi in Copenhagen


Hearing a tale about a waif of a girl in the 15th century selling sandwiches to the king captured my attention while my group dined at the Royal Smushi Café in Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark. Our server continued the account as she collected our order for lunch. The restaurant is located near the flagstaff stores for Royal Copenhagen and Georg Jensen.

Smushi selection, Royal Smushi Café, Copenhagen, Denmark

Photo: Group Tour Media/Mary Lu Laffey Smushi selection, Royal Smushi Café, Copenhagen, Denmark

As the story goes, the little girl called her open-faced sandwiches, smørrebrød. The server added that the king so loved the idea, he took it to the royal court and, much like Queen Victoria’s idea for afternoon tea, the rest is history.

Open-face smørrebrød on rye bread became to the Danes what potatoes meant to the Irish, cheese to Wisconsin or kimchi in South Korea. Smørrebrød became a staple in the diet of Denmark. It’s easily found on menus, on street carts and in the markets. But none were as special as the flavor fusions that were introduced in 2007 at the Royal Smushi Café. That year, its kitchen elevated the homespun smørrebrød to an elegant, visual and taste sensation and called it smushi.

In creating a smushi, the culinary team first cast a coveting eye at the popularity of sushi and appreciated its tastes, textures and the wonderful stylized presentation of the rolls. By combining seasonal Danish ingredients with the artistry of sushi masters, the smushi evolved. And it hasn’t stopped.   

The elegant dining choices that combine food with art are matched by the table service – Royal Copenhagen porcelain and Georg Jensen flatware.

I’d like to say we planned the visit, but it was fortuitous. As part of our shopping tour, we were scheduled to see the holiday tables at Royal Copenhagen, which alone are worth a trip to Denmark. The table exhibit was included on our itinerary and then, where to lunch? All we knew was that our guide had arranged something special at someplace nearby.

Nearby indeed. The cafe is a few steps from Royal Copenhagen and we entered through a courtyard tastefully dressed for the holidays. We were told that the area spills over with plants in the warm weather months.

Unlike the king who savored only a sandwich or two, we shared platters so we could sample at will.

There were elegant egg sandwiches and smoked salmon, and a salad tossed with beef, red beets, apple and capers. The sole was topped with shrimp and dressed by a touch of caviar. Although you’ll want the flavors to linger on your palate, consider a glass of Hyldeblomst or elderflower, an all-natural Nordic drink. Refreshing with a hint of lemon, it is not easily found in the states and is so very Scandinavian.


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Mary Lu Laffey, Contributor

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