Our crew of envoyés spéciaux, a sacred trinity representing our eyes, nose and taste buds, set off to explore Salon 39 at the end of summer day in August.
Just across the Western Bridge, on a corner of a quiet street leading to Danas square, lies a hidden gem tucked away on the edge of Frederiksberg.
Approaching the bar we almost feel as if we could be anywhere else in Europe. The immediate surroundings have a sense of spaciousness and familiarity, inviting us to slow down and enjoy the present moment. The terrace setting is somewhat reminiscent of many European cultures where hedonism is woven throughout everyday life and culture, a place where you can sit down without feeling overwhelmed by traffic, yet still feel as a part of a living city, the ideal set up to enjoy a scrumptious meal and well concocted drink.
As we enter Salon 39, the bar welcomes us at first sight. It holds a privileged position in the space and is beautifully set in what appears to be a welcoming area, with small tables along the windows, and direct access to the bar. A nice way to arrive and land before having a meal.
We pursue our exploration beyond the bar area and a few steps up we find ourselves in a more intimate and dim lit dining area on a level overlooking the bar. The last and third room in the back is another dinning area, tucked away from the main space and even more intimate than the previous one.
First impressions are that this place can be almost anything you wish it to be, a place to meet a client, or a casual date, and even a celebratory dinner and drinks shared with a small group of friends.
An authentic and beautiful space. Distinguished but relaxed. Nostalgic, yet modern. All of the above, well balanced and combined with finesse.
Most of all, Salon 39 skilfully gets that right balance of being a restaurant that also serves as a bar.
We are welcomed at the bar by Lars Fahrner – well groomed in a classic bartender attire. He is humorous, easy going and very skilled. He crafts the drinks we are about to taste with ease and care.
Beautiful vintage bottles with bitters can be found on the bar. Behind it, we see shelves showing an impressive selection of American Bourbon and Italian Amaro.
As we strike a conversation with Lars exploring different questions and ingredients, we’re charmed by the approach of Salon 39: the preserved sour cherries look like something you’d find on the shelves of an Italian Mama (unlike the chemically treated maraschino cherries you’d usually get), a rich dark ruby colour and intense flavour, the syrups used in their cocktails are home made by the crew and only used fresh for a few days at a time. Even the mixers reflect their care and thought process, as the one that Lars is currently using for our next drink, is the fruit of their own labour. It’s becoming very clear to us that Salon 39 is very passionate about what they do, and so, it’s not a surprise they do it so well.
Drinks, Menu and Beyond
Current bar manager Michael Shone has decided to honour the classics on the recent drinks menu, a selection of aperitif style drinks which he has tailored to go well with the Italian inspired kitchen of Salon 39.
In Italian culture, aperitif or aperitivo has a special place, a ritual of going out for a pre-dinner drink that aims to “open up the appetite”, so to speak, loyal to the meaning of the latin word from which aperitivo is derived from (lat. aperiō, “to open”).
More than just a stimulation of your appetite, the aperitivo doesn’t just jump start your digestion but it plays an important role in Italian culture. It’s synonymous with socialising, light conversation over drinks and a good time.
This is something one can easily observe in the way Salon 39 has been set up and that the first section of the space is exactly dedicated to that.
We asked bar manager Michael Shone about what Salon 39 represents for him, where it’s coming from and where he wishes to take it in the future:
“Salon 39 has been around since 2007. I’d say that Salon 39 has been many things to many people in a decade.
I see it as a restaurant with approachable yet thoughtful Italian or otherwise styled cuisine with a cocktail bar smacking you in the face as you walk in the door.
The grand tradition of the Aperitif is something I’m really interested in right now – situational drinking. Not drinking to turn one on, but to relax with your meal or a conversation. Crafting cocktails that don’t necessarily pair or complement our food, but just go along with it, you know?
I hope in some way Salon 39 one day will be seen as benchmark when it comes to serving drinks with a meal in Copenhagen.”
We certainly feel it has already been set on that path!
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