Can oysters ever taste as good in a stylish eatery as they do at a down-home restaurant awash in rough-hewn tables and rustic tiles? Seafood supremo Anders Selmer certainly thought they could when he launched Musling Bistro to complement his hugely popular Kodbyens Fiskebar in a grungier part of Copenhagen. Now Michelin have agreed with him and accorded the restaurant a Bib Gourmand.
It helps that appetites are whetted even before walking in for diners who arrive from the splendid Torvehallerne food hall opposite the restaurant in ever-more-trending Norreport. The halls have, among the gourmet veg, artisanal coffee and cheese from around the world gleaming fish stalls which are surely a source of raw material for this low-lit eatery which aims to encourage sharing of mainly fishy starters, although there is a token rib-eye on the menu for non-pescatarians.
While they claim a less refined kitchen than Fiskebar, the flavours are sophisticated, the ingredient combinations determinedly Danish, as many-times-world’s-best Noma has led all aspriational Copenhagen kitchens to strive for, and the cooking very careful. But no cooking at all is involved in the oyster selection, and this is the place to try huge, round Limfjords – as the servers will tell you, strong-tasting beasts not for first-time oyster eaters – and the sublimely smooth Gillardeau from France which surely even an oyster virgin would adore.
Mussels are a big thing at Musling, and particularly the broth they are poached in. A bowl of this, infused with parsley and blended to create an emulsion topped with the shelled mussels themselves, was a revelation – and incredibly healthy, too. Mussel broth was also the base for a fabulous cream sauce which gave a dish of pasta vongole a richer and more sumptuous sauce than usual for tiny fingernail claims.
Other dishes of note included an emulsion of charred leeks topped with soft-boiled egg and an avalanche of fresh, rosy lumpfish; a big bowl of shoestring chips with aioli was good but frankly redundant after that lot. Blood orange sorbet with crystallised bergamot was also, as any dessert would have been, somewhat redundant, but did clean the palate nicely.
Unfiltered Tuborg pilsner on tap is a perfect way to kick off the evening in this highly convivial bistro, and would work with all the food, but Musling also has a great list of fairly-priced wines by the glass, of which a mineral-dry Austrian rose from Fred Loimer was particularly worth writing home about. Fiskebar, which also has a Michelin Bib Gourmand, is still the place to go for Copenhagen’s best fish and chips – and loads of white-tiled fishy atmosphere – but chef Ingwer Grunberg at Musling does molluscs, bi-valves and shellfish as proud as you could hope for to enjoy in the kind of candlelit comfort the Danes would describe as hygge.
Tell me more about Musling Bistro
Musling Bistro, Linnésgade 14 1361 Copenhagen
Tel: +45 3410 5656