The Danes are a notoriously secular population, however this doesn’t stop them making full use of their churches. Nestled in the heart of the Vesterbro district in Copenhagen, Absalon is one example of an innovative use of space that could otherwise be left untouched….
Absalon is a church located on Sønder Boulevard in Vesterbro, a stone’s throw away from the Meatpacking District and Central Station. It is open every day with a huge range of activities to suit every interest.
Fleamarkets (or ‘loppemarked’ in Danish) are held on the weekends where you can pick up anything from a vintage jacket or a pair of Adidas trainers, to kitchen utensils and paintings.
There are a range of yoga classes including Vinyasa flow, Hatha and yoga for children, all held throughout the week with experienced teachers. You can even join a capoeira class or take part in a session of swing dancing. If sports are not your thing, there are also quizzes and board game evenings, sometimes accompanied by a live band! There is a bar where you can refuel with a cup of coffee, or a glass of wine depending on what time of day it is. There is no end to interesting and sociable events happening at Absalon every day.
However, I think one of the best parts of Absalon is the daily food on offer (dinner during the week, and brunch on Sundays) which are both affordable and delicious. Diners sit on long tables next to one another, emphasising the egalitarian and community-driven nature of Absalon.
The sentiment, “consider Absalon as an extension of your living room”, sums up the warm, inviting and sociable atmosphere that the team behind it has created. Whether you need a hungover Sunday morning brunch, or want to search for one-off finds in the fleamarket, I recommend this multi-functional church next time you find yourself in Vesterbro.
Tucked away on an unassuming, rather grotty side street just metres from Bristol’s Bear Pit, Sky Kong Kong represents all that is good and great about Bristol’s ever-developing food scene. It serves up food for the pure passion rather than the pounds in the bank.
Here Korean food is fresh, experimental and changes on a daily basis. Head Chef and owner, Wizzy Chung, who formerly worked in Michelin restaurants, left the prestige and glory to make her own mark and serve the local people of Bristol.
Dishes here are seasonal, carefully crafted and very affordable. Sky Kong Kong has only one menu. Starter, main and dessert is the same for everyone so be ready to try something new and come with an open-mind, excited to try the flavours Wizzy makes extremely palatable. The menu can range fairly widely, however, the general practice is a starter, main (meat and fish) and dessert. Branding themselves as an ‘organic-Korean café’, SKK also serves up delicious lunchtime bento boxes for just £3.50. But a word of warning: it’s probably not the most vegetarian-friendly.
Upon my visit, I was served smoked salmon accompanied by an array of fruity garnishes, fresh red mullet and a Korean take on beef chow mein. This was finished up with a mouth watering chocolate parfait. The dishes were easy on the eye, a perfect balance of flavours and something new I’d never tried.
The restaurant décor is not particularly colourful but it is certainly inviting and characterfully cluttered. The Korean lettered walls reflect the Asian influence and cultural pride that is clear in each dish and important to Wizzy. The long wooden table seats all, and the surrounding shelves and surfaces are home to various jars of fermented foods and Asian recipe books. This is by no means a restaurant that tries to be anything it’s not. The tables are strewn with neatly mismatched crockery and the food served on them is dependent upon the spontaneity of the chef that day.
It cannot be denied that the quality of the food and the care and attention involved are the results of a lifetime dedicated to the love of food. There are two sittings for dinner, with the latest being 8.30pm. Prices start at £12.50 and corkage is £1.50 per person.
SKK isn’t the most conventional restaurant. It’s definitely worth the experience and the bill won’t break the bank.
Café Pushkin is found on a stretch of road in Leipzig with more independents than chains. But this café is different. To start with, the creeping vines over the golden and maroon exterior, at once warm and inviting, makes Pushkin frankly impossibly to miss. And yet inside, you are transported somewhere else entirely. The Slavic influenced interior and memorabilia on the walls gives a nod to the 19th Century Russian poet, the café’s namesake.
I first came here on a drab Monday morning and pushing back the heavy velvet curtains revealed a cosy and warm café – the perfect refuge from the rain. As a big tea fan I was delighted to see their great selection of loose leaf teas. There are also thirteen different hot chocolates to choose from – all very authentic, consisting of melted chocolate in a mug.
The breakfasts are infamous, too. You can rely on getting a hearty breakfast here a ‘Bauernomelett’ (which translates as the farmer’s omelette) will set you back €7.50 but is guaranteed to fill you up until dinner. That’s if you can get a seat. By 10.30am on a Saturday they are usually full and customers stand hovering by the entrance waiting to catch the next available table. There are also lunch and dinner menus and some satirical titles, such as ‘Formidabel cheese’ (a huge cheese burger) and ‘Huhnululu’ (Hawain inspired ‘Huhn’ chicken dish) are both inventive and ‘punny’. Their burger menu, the ‘Burgeramt’, is another amusing play on words for Germans’ love of bureaucracy and burgers.
‘Das Chillum’, which roughly translates as the ‘chill lounge’, is where the shisha-bar can be found, with countless numbers of cocktails and great music. Having been to Pushkin at various times of day for food and drink, I look forward to trying their evening set up.
After my housemate visited this cute little restaurant just around the corner from our house, she came back raving about the delicious pasta that had reminded her of her time spent in Italy on her year abroad. I too, like most final year language students, was feeling nostalgic of my time in Bologna, so I quickly went to book a table. Not surprisingly for the restaurant awarded Best Italian in the 2016 Bristol Good Food Awards, the earliest slot was in three weeks time!
When the day arrived, Pasta Loco was everything, if not more than I had anticipated. Founded by cousins Ben and Dominic, this intimate locale is the perfect setting for dishes of quality produce with a personal touch, complete with pictures of the owners hanging on the walls to create a friendly atmosphere. In the tastefully decorated interior, with low-key lighting and a bench with cushions for a seat, I immediately felt comfortable and in good hands.
The limited seating and seasonal menu allow for excellent service and our food arrived within minutes. The dishes are satisfying if what you need is a comforting plate of pasta, and will pleasantly surprise with original combinations of flavours. For example, the linguini sausage carbonara with pork belly, pancetta and poached egg, was a delicious explosion of gustos. Not to mention, the pasta is all made in-house and the dessert…well, I’ll let you see for yourself.
Just a few roads away from Faubourg St Antoine, in the trendy area of Oberkampf, we came across Bespoke, one of those ‘rustic’ restaurants that tries to stand out by playing down.
We visited this hipster hangout, as some might call it, when the weather was practically baking. Sadly the limited seating outside meant we were led to the back of the restaurant, where the lighting or lack of was a stark contrast to blazing sun outside. Note to self: save for a rainy day next time.
The staff were very friendly – they’ve clearly been to charm school – and also very accommodating of our hangovers by providing a constant water supply.
The waiter, trying to play it cool, chose not to use a notepad when taking an order. This is always so admirable when it works out, but not when they have to come back and check the order and then still the wrong food arrives.
My friend and I went for the baked eggs, with tomato, chorizo and thyme, a simplified take on a Shakshouka, if you may. However, when the correct food eventually came, we ate four spoonfuls and the meal was finished. It’s always a shame when it’s not the filling lunch you were hoping for.
On a more positive note, though, my two other friends ordered contrasting savoury and sweet waffles, which looked absolutely delicious and apparently were. The drinks list was endless, and the menu was on the whole quite creative, maybe if a little overpriced. So in summary, perhaps this place is more suitable for an evening of sipping sophisticated cocktails than for a lazy afternoon lunch.