Travel Diaries: Café Lillebror with Victor Wågman
Café Lillebror (little brother in Danish) is located at a busy street corner in Copenhagen’s Latin Quarter, run by former Noma chefs Victor Wågman and Samuel Nutter, a cosy space where you can enjoy exactly what their tagline says: "Coffee and bread by day - Wine and food by night".
Opened in Nov 2014, two years after Restaurant Bror, Lillebror's food incorporates, just like Bror, (which we'll talk about in our next post) seasonal produce, with a focus on extracting subtleties in taste and texture from simple ingredients. Stone ground flour from Nordic grains sourced from a local farm Østagegaard, located just outside of Copenhagen, is used in the bread and pastries, freshly baked in house applying traditional baking techniques with a twist and great coffee beans from a Swedish roaster greet you at the counter. The menu is simple and Lillebror has an understated and relaxed atmosphere, prices are very reasonable, and the food will make you happy. The service is warm and sincere.
We had the opportunity to have lunch with Victor Wågner (one of the owners).
Noden: Please tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into cooking?
Victor Wågner: I was born in Colombia and grew up in Sweden. I left Sweden when I was 20 because I wanted to explore and discover what it would be like to work in a professional kitchen. I don’t have this romantic story where I stood by my grandma’s stove and all of that – none of that at all. My parent’s passion was not in cooking, as they were vegetarian. Their passion was focused on other parts of their lives, but I always had a strong interest at how the things you eat can affect you – like how it makes you happy …and well it can make you sad too if you have a bad meal right?
N: The food at Bror is creative; tell us about it?
VW: When you talk about Bror – we wanted something that was interesting but comforting at the same time. It’s a fine balance between comforting & innovative; where we would do some cool things but also have the guests say: “this tastes really good”! It’s not about how many fermented pickles there are and how this is grown and harvested on some hilltop by whoever or whatever, you don’t need this story, and it just needs to tastes good sometimes. Also in a restaurant setting, if you go too crazy and experimental it may not suit the environment. We try to blend everything into something fun where you have a good time with your friends and family.
N: Tell us a little about Café Lille Bror – what is the idea and concept behind it?
VW: We started Restaurant Bror about 2 years ago and we felt that we were doing was working, people appreciated it and we always wanted to make our own bread and the location we had at Bror was very small and limited and we felt a little trapped so because of all of this we felt like we could do something more you know? We looked around and we found this space. We wanted to have our own bakery to make our own bread, and we needed to serve good coffee, we are chefs so we can make something happen you know? So throw that all in together and we decided that if we were already spending all that money on the kitchen, why shouldn’t we start a café and restaurant in Lille Bror?
N: What are the must try dishes at Café Lille Bror?
VW: Here at Lillebror, the menu is easy going, at Bror we have some crazy stuff like testicles and fish head, it’s a lot more relaxed here, some people have said that it’s a lot more French. We have some macaroons with chicken liver and cinnamon for example, that’s a really good one. The Squid Risotto where we boil the risotto with squid and use barley seeds, as rice with some squid on top is another must try. We have some nice pea servings too at the moment with potatoes and mint. During the day, we also have awesome bread, pastries and cookies too.
N: Tell us about your favourite food memory?
VW: There’s many but I think one that is really important was the first meal I had in a really good restaurant in Sweden. I come from the countryside, there’s nothing there, so this was a very distant world to me. So when I first went to this fine dining one Michelin starred restaurant in Stockholm by this guy who I looked up to, I ate this whole brain and I still remember today how it made me feel, it made me cry. From there, it basically told me that there was more to food than just an everyday necessity.