Walking into Grisen (The Pig) is a bit like walking into your own living room, except that there’s the promise of a beef sandwich piled high with toppings and drenched in gravy.
Owned and run by Katrine Sommer, Grisen is a traditional Danish grill bar with a modern twist. Grill bars are small takeaway restaurants that serve burgers, hot dogs, flæskesteg sandwiches (roasted pork), fries and drinks (for the true Danish food aficionados: Grisen makes their own chocolate milk). Grill bars are a constant across Denmark, and are typically frequented by locals and particularly by workers who come in for a quick lunch. The quality of the food has never been at the forefront; it’s more about the affordable price, fast service, and feeling of camaraderie.
Well, what if you could take all those qualities, but then also make the food really good? Maybe make the surroundings a bit more comfortable so that customers could sit down with friends and enjoy a hyggeligt meal? That’s what Grisen has done, and the local response has been enormous.
With so much focus on New Nordic, the international interest in day-to-day Danish food hasn’t been strong. And, let’s be honest, it’s not sexy. Between foraging and minimalist interiors and plates that look like a scene out of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales, New Nordic has got a little oomph. But grill bar food is simple. Hearty, delicious, not always the most healthy (there’s a LOT of gravy), and you don’t need a reservation.
But Grisen asserts that there is something special about Danish grill bar food, and it certainly makes its case compelling. The two crown jewels of the restaurant are its flæskestegsandwich and bøfsandwich (ground beef sandwich). Both come in sturdy but soft homemade rolls. The flæskesteg is topped with pickled red cabbage, pickled cucumber, mustard-mayo, and crunchy pork rinds (like we said, not a health food). The beef sandwich, which has consistently voted best in Denmark, comes with pickled red beets and cucumbers, creamy mustard-mayo, three kinds of onions and a hefty splash of gravy (called brun sovs or brown sauce). It’s an indulgent sandwich that will keep you full for quite a while.
It’s not only the flavors that make Grisen feel so cosy. Danish memorabilia lines the walls and classic Danish pop plays from the speakers. The effect is something of a Danish time capsule; fascinating for tourists and comforting to locals. “This is food everyone grew up with, no matter where they’re from in Denmark,” Katrine says, “so I wanted to create that feeling with the interior and music too – familiarity and happiness.”
Whether you’re looking for a quick dinner on a sunny day or need a spot to nurse your hangover for a few hours while escaping the cold, Grisen is your spot. It’s a celebration of delicious food and Danish culture, all while offering a playful atmosphere where they only thing taken seriously is your meal.
2200 København N
Every day 4:30 – 9:00 pm
For holiday hours, see Grisen’s Facebook page