When we first discovered Iris, the cutting-edge dining destination gracefully floating atop the pine-green waters of Hardangerfjord in Norway, we were instantly captivated by its design and concept.
However, our enchantment with the restaurant deepened even further when we had the opportunity to converse with Head Chef Anika Madsen, the culinary maestra who steers the culinary ship at Iris.
Hailing from Denmark, Anika was raised in the small town of Dragør and honed her culinary skills in Copenhagen, where she worked at some of the finest dining institutions in the country’s culinary scene, including the Michelin-starred restaurant, formel B.
In her early twenties, Anika embarked on her culinary journey with the Kadeau Group. Impressively, by the age of 25, she ascended to the position of head chef and became a part owner of Roxie, a restaurant within Copenhagen’s luxurious Hotel Herman K.
Before she knew it, Anika found herself as the Head Chef of one of the latest, if not the coolest, dining establishments nestled within the state-of-the-art Salmon Eye art installation, Iris. Each day, she unveils her culinary expertise by presenting the flavours of Norway through an expertly crafted tasting menu that showcases ingredients sourced from the sea and the surrounding mountains.
“Last year, my husband Nico and I were invited to visit Salmon Eye in Hardangerfjord, Norway, and we immediately fell in love with the area, the nature, and the project. It was a dream come true to move and work so closely with nature. In June of this year, we opened reservations at Iris where we offer our guests an expedition dining experience, sailing them out to Salmon Eye with a pitstop at the Island of Snilstveitøy,” said Anika.
Apart from delving into the details of Iris, our aim was to also gain insights into Anika’s favourite places to eat, drink, and shop in the city she spent most of her life in, Copenhagen.
“Needless to say, Copenhagen is the city where it all began. It’s where I transitioned from being a child to a roaring teenager, and from a young cook to a chef with fire in her legs.”
Without further ado, here are some of her absolute favourite venues, which we believe should unquestionably be on your radar. Let’s dive into Anika’s Copenhagen city guide.
[All images above courtesy of Iris and Chef Anika Madsen]
Restaurants / Cafes
“A really good morning in my hood of Frederiksberg starts at Sokkelund for a Croque Madame, either at the dining counter or on the cafe tables on the sunny sidewalk. It’s an original French café, serving old-school café dishes with local ingredients. What makes them extra unique is the exceptional service all day. I personally believe that the passion for serving in cafés is a dying profession, but not at Sokkelund.”
“A place I visit most often is a Japanese izakaya-style restaurant called Jah Izakaya & Sake Bar. It’s a small restaurant with lots of personality. Guests come not only for the flavorful food but also for the homely staff. Come early to choose dishes from the blackboard; only the freshest of the freshest fish is served at Jah. A must-try is the Agedashi, a bowl of perfectly seasoned dashi with fried silken tofu.”
“Omegn og Venner in Torvehallerne is referred to as an Industry Place, a hangout spot for chefs and waiters on their days off. We quickly became friends with Denny and Sara, the owners. Suddenly, we were there most of our days off, soaking up the energy from people who are out to get the newest ingredients from all over the world at their counter. They’ve got a handful of dishes that are always on the menu, and a vibrant blackboard menu that truly showcases craftsmanship. A truly inspiring place.”
“On my birthdays in January, I love to invite my friends for a dip in the ocean, followed by a warm sauna or Jacuzzi at Copenhot, all the way out in Refshaleøen. It’s a rustic experience with cold beers and cosy vibes. Not all my friends are looking forward to the winter dip until they’re all warmed up from the sauna, but at the end of the day, it becomes one of the most memorable days in a grey and rainy season.”
“I work out at Power House, a smaller health club that empowers you even in your low-energy periods. You’ll never have a guilty conscience going there, even if they haven’t seen you in months or years. The coaches fuel you up with character and motivation. The facilities are amazing, and you don’t have to bring every single basic essential; they’ve got fantastic products for the body and soul.”
Where To Shop For The Best Ingredients
“If I’m having friends and family over for dinner, I would call my old fish supplier, Fiskerikajen. They’re the fish supplier for most restaurants in Copenhagen, simply because of their products and friendly service. As a chef, there’s a big chance that you’d phone them, and it would be an old colleague that you used to work with. Chefs selling fish for chefs, genius!
“For my vegetables, I’d go to Torvehallerne, where it’s easy and convenient to pick and choose from a big selection of fresh food and preserves.”
“Secure your reservation at Sushi Anaba, a sushi restaurant by Mads Battefeld, who went to Japan and came back to open his own restaurant with only 8 seats. Sit back and enjoy the ride; it’s hard to describe the experience in just one sentence. They are a small team, and all I can say is that they’re delivering one of the greatest and most unique dining experiences in Copenhagen.”