Marv & Ben in Copenhagen: natural, authentic and creative

For my second dinner in Copenhagen, I’m opting for a “Nordic” cuisine that gives pride of place to local, quality, organic products and that brilliantly blends this simplicity with a certain kind of elaboration. Once that’s said, we’re not much further ahead: there’s a plethora of restaurants to choose from in Copenhagen, and after a bit of research I decided to set my sights on Marv & Ben.

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The concept of Marv & Ben

As I said above, we’re talking about a cuisine that’s natural, authentic and refined. To quote their website, “everything is prepared from scratch with a genuine curiosity for new flavors and textures. Everything is made with local produce from small producers, and the wine list offers a versatile selection of the exciting wines we love – both biodynamic, organic and conventional.“.

Food is made from the finest local ingredients with as much ecology as possible and a deep respect for nature. The fish on the menu is caught close to the coast and all the meat comes from small local producers..”

I’m sure you’ve read a number of times on this blog about restaurants in Goteborg, Stockholm or Copenhagen, but this is a very strong trend in Scandinavia, and the results are often more than compelling.

The setting at Marv & Ben

While in France, refined cuisine and a tasting menu often go hand in hand with a more or less refined setting (although there has been a trend towards simplicity for some time), Nordic countries tend to play the simplicity and conviviality card.

The restaurant is a small house on an old Copenhagen street, occupying two floors.


The kitchen is visible from the outside.


Before pushing the door open, it’s clear that they like our friend the Michelin Man… unless it’s the other way around.


And as advertised, the dining room is simple, a little “like home”. I’ll be seated upstairs.


Marv & Ben’s menu

Marv & Ben is following a growing trend among restaurants that are trying to offer elaborate cuisine without getting lost in an overly complicated and broad menu: there is no à la carte menu, but a single menu that changes over time but with a difference from other properties.

Basically, the property offers a 6-course tasting menu (the Six favorite). You can opt for a “fast” 4-course version (Fast Four) or take each course individually (A la carte). But in the end, you’ll only be able to choose between 6 dishes.


So here’s the menu on offer on the day of my visit, and I’ll be taking (of course) the 6-course menu on offer at 60 euros or 120 with the wine pairing.

Less and less adept at wine pairing, which often forces me to finish my glass in a hurry when the next one arrives, I prefer to be advised wines by the glass from a very rich menu.

The dinner and the dishes

I’ll start with a glass of champagne, which will be accompanied by three appetizers.


The waiter will take the time to tell me all about the champagne, its origins and composition, as he will for every wine I take. An effort that I see much more often abroad than in France, perhaps because we imagine that every French person is a budding oenologist?


Let’s take a look at the amuse-bouche:

  • An oyster with red berries: correct
  • A potato chip with a mushroom emulsion: very good.
  • Chicken and corn with an unidentified sauce: fresh and fun.

I’m brought homemade bread and butter: delicious, the butter looks like cream!

My first course arrives: pike-perch with fennel and…hemp, served with a vegetable broth.

To accompany it, given the size of the wine list, I’ll ask the waiter to advise me. He’ll let me taste several so I can make my choice, which is great.

But back to the pike-perch.

The plate arrives and the broth is added later.


Please note that this is a cold dish (including broth). It’s good and the hemp-fennel combination works wonders. It may lack a little something to spice it up, but that’s just a detail.

The next course is cod with crab bisque and chives.


With this dish, I’ll take the caviar option on offer: eat it on the side or add it on top.


The fish is perfectly cooked and the bisque balances perfectly. I wondered about the relevance of caviar with this dish, but it literally transforms it. Really very good.

Then we move on to new potatoes, “bakskuld” and lovage (an aromatic plant used as a condiment).

So, for those of you who don’t know what “basksuld” is (as far as I’m concerned, I didn’t until today), it’s a salted, dried and smoked fish preparation produced on the west coast of Denmark.

And this is what it all looks like.


It’s really excellent. Smoky (but not too smoky), fresh and full of flavor (lovage), it’s a real delight, so much so that I’d have liked a little more…

We continue with a raw beef with fermented carrots and mussel emulsion. Or, to put it another way, a revisited version of tartare in “land-sea” mode.


Or, to put it another way, a revisited version of tartare in surf and turf mode. Mussels and meat were a daring choice, but they blend and balance each other perfectly, and you can’t tell that this little taste that makes all the difference comes from seafood. A bit like the deer with boletus and mackerel broth that I really enjoyed at Nisch in Stockholm.

Next comes quail. The presentation of the dish is so long that I’ll forget 3/4 of it. It is served with berries, mushrooms and a crisp, oven-baked salad topped with a spinach emulsion.


Beautiful presentation (the green of the salad is enhanced by the spinach), beautifully cooked, perfect marriage of flavours. Once again, a faultless performance.

For dessert, I’ll be served plums.


As I’m not a fan of desserts, I’m not so keen on the charm of this dish, even though I’ll be applauding its freshness at the end of the meal.

My coffee will be accompanied by a sea salt butter caramel. Delicious.


That was the end of an excellent dinner in a room that had begun to empty.


What can I say about this dinner?

Creative cooking that preserves food without overworking or transforming it, well-worked visuals and, overall, a very successful execution.

I was still thinking about my dinner at Nisch’s, which naturally led me to make the comparison, but I don’t think it’s relevant. While both claim the same authenticity and naturalness when it comes to food, one is more creative and the other may be a little more conventional. But both are excellent.

The service

As always in Scandinavia, professional, smiling and warm, without fuss.

I appreciated the time taken to explain each dish, each wine, with detail and a certain passion. Nor do I forget certain courtesies, such as letting me taste several wines instead of saying “trust me, I’ve got the one you’re sure to like”.

The atmosphere

Warm room, not too bright or (especially) too dark, music present but very discreet, friendly, relaxed atmosphere.

Bottom line

An excellent meal in which I found two of the hallmarks of Scandinavian cuisine: “natural” foods whose authenticity is preserved in a cuisine that’s creative but doesn’t overdo it and avoids tasteless mistakes.

All for 120 euros, including a 6-course menu, several glasses of wine (never cheap in these countries) and a caviar supplement. Very good value for money.


To be repeated.

Bertrand Duperrin
Bertrand Duperrin
Compulsive traveler, present in the French #avgeek community since the late 2000s and passionate about (long) travel since his youth, Bertrand Duperrin co-founded Travel Guys with Olivier Delestre in March 2015.

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