Tucked along the canal behind the Parliament building, a hidden gem lies in a high basement. One of my favorite things to do is step down the couple of stairs to the restaurant. It’s like entering a time capsule.
Waiters in traditional Danish wait staff attire of white shirts and black vests embroidered with sponsored beer names run around serving Aquavit and open-faced sandwiches between red-clothed tables and an odd maritime theme. The walls are full of old sepia photos of sailboats and you have the random ore and Ship’s Wheel hanging from the ceiling.
The food is traditional Danish lunch with open-faced sandwiches. You can find this all over Copenhagen, but at Kanal Cafeen they manage an excellent balance between tradition and ingredients. More modern interpretations exists (check the Schønnemanns article) but at Kanal Cafeen you’ll find an authentic honest version. You can of course get the whole range of classics, including my favorites Pickled Herring, Filet of Fish with remoulade sauce and Roast Pork with red cabbage.
The wait staff are jovial and usually hungover from drinking too much Aquavit the day before. They manage to run a high service level regardless, but they might give you some good-hearted grief if you order non-alcoholic beverages with your meal.
During the warmer months, if the weather is nice, they have a terrace outside – right by the canal.