Level 3, 428 Little Bourke Street
Flabbergasted and bemused, that’s how I felt when I read that Dansk, the lunch spot the Eat and be Merry crew suggested that we meet up to try, served Nordic food. What the heck is Nordic food? I had no idea, and everyone I asked gave me a similarly confused look, most of them replying with something along the lines of ‘don’t they eat huge steaks and drink lots of beer?’
We couldn’t have been more wrong.
As it turns out, Dansk was hidden on the third floor of an apartment building, and was once an exclusive club, but has since opened up to welcome the public. That said though, we still had to sign in at the reception before we could be seated. Dansk was also a lot smarter than I had expected – the tablecloths were linen, the bar well-stocked, and the clients besuited. Everything looked like an Ikea renovation done right, and the overall atmosphere was a perfect mix of minimalistic airiness and warmth.
The main menu was perplexingly divided into two sections – Smørrebrød and Not Smørrebrød. Thankfully Fil appears to have done his research, and told us that a smørrebrød was something of an open sandwich, and not smørrebrød was, well, you know.
|Baked Beetroot with Fried Smoked Eel and Horseradish Creme ($15)|
Unfortunately Snooze and Bureaucrat couldn’t make it today, so it was a quiet lunch with just Fil, Chris and myself. Fil’s Smorrebrod of choice was topped with Baked Beetroot with Fried Smoked Eel and Horseradish Creme ($15). In true blogging spirit, small portions were cut off and shared around, so everyone could try a bit of everything. I found this surprisingly delicious, especially with me being an avid beetroot hater and all. The discs of beetroot were tender and sweet, forming the perfect backdrop to the lightly seared tiles of rich eel. I really liked the bread it was served on; it was dark and dense, something I’d happily dip into a mug of warm milk.
|Gippsland Beef Served with Classic Remoulade, Cucumber Salad and Fried Onion Rings ($16)|
Chris was originally looking at some dumplings in chicken broth, but I was hungrily eyeing the onion rings in the Gippsland Beef Served with Classic Remoulade, Cucumber Salad and Fried Onion Rings ($16) smørrebrød, so I convinced him to get that instead. The hefty pile of thinly sliced beef piled on top of the crusty bread was soft and a pleasing shade of pink, and the cucumber salad was slightly pickled, resulting in a sweet-sour flavour that complemented the beef well. Funnily enough, the onion rings were the only bit I didn’t enjoy, being greasy and a little bit stale. I’d happily order this again though.
|'Skinkesalat' Smoked Kassler Ham Salad served with Cucumber and Crispy Potatoes ($13)|
Whilst Chris was ploughing into his beef sandwich, I went for the lighter option of ‘Skinkesalat’ Smoked Kassler Ham Salad served with Cucumber and Crispy Potatoes ($13) smørrebrød. What came out was nothing like what I had imagined, and was about as much of a salad as a steak tartare, and as light as a slab of bacon. That’s not to say it wasn’t good though; the smoky and creamy combination of the diced ham and mayonnaise was, predictably, a winning combination, and the chips on top were audibly crunchy, adding an extra textural dimension to the dish. The bread was a bit tough around the edges, but I loved the presentation, especially the way the salad and chips looked like they were growing out of the ham. Chris and I actually ended up liking each other’s sandwiches more, so we swapped halfway and never swapped back.
The portions at Dansk are quite small for what you pay, but you have to remember that they’re marketing themselves as something of an exclusive club. The food took a little while to come out, especially considering it was fairly quiet and almost everyone was eating some sort of smørrebrød or another, so you might want to avoid eating here if you’ve got a short lunch break. But as intimidating as the good cutlery may be, the food is actually simple and hearty, and even though I’m not sure they would like me saying so, it feels a lot like a fancy version of the Ikea restaurant; that’s to say, comfortable and homely, with some damn sexy decor that I will never be able to replicate.
Rating: 13/20 – fancy ikea.