When you read about/watch something about/tell anyone about Denmark, the thing that pops up within about five minutes is the notion of “hygge”. It’s loosely translated as cosy, but really, it refers more to that warm and fuzzy feeling that you get whenever you are doing something kind of warm and fuzzy.
And warm and fuzzy describes my dinner last weekend pretty much perfectly. Which is a bit odd when you consider that I made a reservation for a party at one. I had been wanting to eat at Stedsans at the Ostergro gardens most of the summer but couldn’t quite square away a booking – I always got in the game a little late (this place has been booked solid all summer). And with the diplo-husband on travels for what seems like ever, when I saw a random opening for just one, I figured why not. I have to get used to him being gone next year anyway… Since I travel a lot for work normally, enjoying my own party of one doesn’t really bother me, but with this year’s leave, it’s actually been some time since I dined alone.
As it turns out, you don’t really dine alone at Stedsans anyway, which is where some of the warm and fuzzies come in. Although you’ll already start getting those when you make it up the four narrow, spiraled flights to the rooftop that opens up in to an explosion of garden foliage, lit by old school bulbs and candlelight. As far as cityscapes go, it’s really quite striking and romantic. A welcome drink is served while the group gathers and you might as well start making nice right away, because for the rest of the dinner, you sit at one single, long communal table which is tucked into the glass greenhouse.
Fall has been settling in nicely here in Copenhagen, and not knowing what to expect from the weather, I packed lots of layers and scarves to wear but I needn’t have bothered. Warm and cozy is in full effect at the greenhouse too. Between the number of people, draped hides, and countless candles, you could comfortably take your coat off.
If you’re familiar with Outstanding in the Field, this dinner service is pretty much a version of Outstanding in the Greenhouse. The dinner isn’t full of tricks or dancing ants or liquified foams or anything like that. The website for Stedsans is called “clean, simple, local” and that is basically 100% what you get on your plate. Six courses, six wines (or non-alcoholic alternatives), 845 DKK, which frankly, for Copenhagen is a steal . My one regret was that there wasn’t just a bit more quantity of food – I think the platter of Comte cheese that they brought out I could have easily put down just myself if left to my own devices, ditto for the chocolate plate. But just because I could doesn’t mean that I should, so they’re probably right anyway. But still, just a few more bites here and there definitely would not have been turned down…
Although we’re right in the middle of the city, Mette and Fleming, the chefs behind this little operation, run very much a field kitchen. When you consider what’s coming out of there with the simplest of set ups, you appreciate it all the more. And they’re willing to accommodate most restrictions and allergies if you communicate with them in advance. I didn’t take all that many pictures of the food. Partially not to be that crazy lady that photographs everything she eats, but also because while the food is simple, it’s also special. It’s not going to come alive in the same way in a picture – at least not in my pictures – to really get it, you’ll just have to see it for yourself, in the candlelight and all.
What started out as an expectation of dining out alone ended up a most convivial experience – conversations flowed freely along with the wine and I appreciated an evening to meet a table full of Danes, ones I might not otherwise meet. In that sense, it’s less a restaurant experience, and more of a classic dinner party feel. And it will probably the most hyggeligt dinner party you’ve ever been too.
If this is something that might strike your fancy, you’re in luck – the restaurant just extended for three more weeks through the end of this month. The tables go fast so if you see free spots, don’t overthink, go for it! In fact, I just might see you there… I’ve already booked my return.