A Royal Visit

My favorite moment at today’s lunch/preview of Aamanns/Copenhagen, the restaurant coming to 13 Laight (along the south side of Albert Capsouto Park) happened hours before the event. Attendees were emailed the protocol for interacting with the Crown Prince Couple of Denmark, individually known as Frederik, the Crown Prince of Denmark and Mary, the Crown Princess of Denmark.

—You’re welcome to photograph them, but they are not to be touched.
—It’s asked that no one present themselves to the Crown Prince Couple unless they are formally introduced. If you are introduced you may shake their hand and bow (men) or curtsy (women).
—If you have the opportunity to speak with them (it’s not likely, but just in case!), they are to be individually addressed as “Your Royal Highness.”
—Please do not photograph them eating.
—They are not available for interviews today.

The menu; click to enlarge

I spent the morning wondering whether I’d refuse to bow—if I were meeting them in Denmark, then fine, but here? I didn’t have to worry: I wasn’t brought over to them. Obviously.

My second favorite moment came when the Crown Princess took a bite of a smørrebrød—the Danish open-faced sandwich that the restaurant will specialize in—and, noticing a camera still pointed at her, turned away. Does anyone know if royals in general can’t be photographed eating? Or is just the Danes? Or just the Crown Prince Couple? Do they morph into real people?

I kid! They seemed lovely, although as a half-Norwegian, I tend to project loveliness on all Scandinavians. In the photo at top, from left: Mary, the Crown Princess of Denmark; pop star Medina; Frederick, the Crown Prince of Denmark; chef Adam Aamanns-Christensen; owner Sandra Ytting.

The 2,000-square-foot space is pretty: Ceilings that I estimated at around 14 feet, brick walls painted white, pale wood floors, Fritz Hansen chairs. (The restaurant will double as a Danish cultural center, showcasing Danish design—products will even be for sale.) Best of all are the windows—not only are there a ton, because the space is above ground and facing a big wide-open space, the northern light floods in. (The abundance of light makes it hard to photograph people because they get back-lit.) It’ll seat 50 when it opens—not till December, alas—some of whom will be in the room to the west, behind the bar.

I’ll wait till then to describe the restaurant in greater detail, the owner’s background, and so on. As for the event, owner Sanne Ytting spoke, as did Susanne Nordenbæk (the head of Visit Denmark, she was introducing the organization’s new smørrebrød app), and chef Adam Aamann-Christensen. (I did speak to him, or at least he spoke to me, telling me that I could photograph the smørrebrød on the counter but they weren’t done yet.) Then Danish pop singer Medina sang three songs, one of which was at the request of the Crown Prince Couple.

It was at that point I realized that I probably couldn’t leave until the Crown Prince Couple did. So I focused on the food. The smørrebrød were delicious, dense with flavor and—as you can see from the menu—far more complex than the phrase “open-faced sandwich” calls to mind. I was concerned that they wouldn’t be filling, but they were, thanks no doubt to the homemade rye bread. And the marzipan cake was so good many of us ate piece after piece (they were small).

P.S. It’s pronounced Oh-mens, and the “a” in Copenhagen is long, like in “hay.”



  1. Your Crown Princess is actually a down to earth girl from Tasmania, whom the Prince met in a bar in Sydney during some sporting event. All Australians know her, she’s on every third magazine cover.

    Food looks terrific.

  2. Perhaps I shouldn’t nitpick here, but re: bowing, in many cultures it’s not a sign of obeisance/subjugation but common respect. You’re not saying you’d go to war for them. I’m speaking as someone with a bi-cultural background in US and Japan. Right wing crazies went way crazier when Pres. Obama bowed to the Japanese emperor (never mind GWB’s hand-holding walks with Saudi royalty, of course). But what they didn’t care to learn is that you bow to the dry cleaner in Japan. Everybody bows to everybody. People bow when they’re speaking to someone on the phone. It’s kind of like shaking hands, without the need for Purell. So bowing to these fancy folks doesn’t put you in their thrall. It’s just ordinary manners and a sign of gentility. Am I out of line for bringing this up? My apologies, if so.

  3. @David: Never out of line! The important distinction, for me, is that we were in the USA. Royalty strikes me as a ludicrous concept in general—perhaps because I most likely won’t be one (never say never)—but when in the proverbial Rome, I’d probably bow. When in Tribeca? Not likely.

  4. If you had been able to speak to Mary, Crown Princess you would have liked her – good natured Australian girl who met the Crown Prince during the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.

    And she is very fecund – producing 3 children and I think two of whom are boys !!

  5. More importantly (I don’t think the prince/princess will be visiting on a regular basis) the food looks great! Will be a welcome and much needed addition to the neighborhood.

  6. I just wish the little princess, that lives across the hall, would realize that at 8 o’clock in the morning the rest of the residents on the floor don’t care if she doesn’t want to wear her jacket, so she should just shut up and get in the stroller!

  7. @Matilde Mary and Frederick have 4 children. Mary had twins in January. Regardless of what one thinks of royalty, this couple is much beloved in Denmark. I personally don’t know how she does it — she comes from a middle class family in Australia. The scrutiny and lack of privacy must be just awful.
    Can’t wait to try the restaurant. Danish (and Swedish) smorrebrod is to die for.

  8. Your wonderful prose is always entertaining — but this article is one of my favorites so far. When you can make a tired working mother laugh out loud in the morning…you’re obviously doing something right. Thanks for the good comedy tucked into your informative stories.

  9. Royals anywhere, Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz……… put them all out to pasture………….. And if so down to earth, why not a photo while chowing? eh?
    And I actually would bow, only, to my dry cleaners for the fine work they do.

  10. A note to Mr. Imbar,

    I am a total American with relatives that came from various places including Ireland, England, Germany, etc. I don’t know why I bow but I do. I find it a way to say “I’m sorry”, ” I respect you”, etc. Thank you for your wonderful point of view.

    Humbly yours,

  11. I live in Denmark, and here in Denmark a lot of people think that the CrownPrince and CrownPrincess are of no use. We would love the monarchy to end. The sooner the better.
    About the eating-photos: Until recently it was okay to photo royals eating, but when came a rather ugly and misleading picture of our Queen eating a sausage, and since this it is not allowed to photo royals eating …

  12. I live in New York, but I would have to disagree strongly with Julia. The Crown Prince & Princess are of great use…much like the Kardashian sisters.

  13. Dudes,

    British royals came to Copenhagen yesterday and press was asked to not speak to them, and not listen to their conversations only take photos from afar.

    It’s a joke with these royals that no one gives a toss about but themselves and their friends.

  14. That list of etiquette is quite frankly laughable–literally. It was so absurd and entirely condescending. Perhaps all the global unrest is making them yearn for a more civilized time when people gave a damn about royalty. It is nice to know that they are down to earth, but really asking the peons of the world to observe and follow some antiquated rules in a country in which they are no more special than anyone else is really quite egotistical. What is the punishment for infractions? Eric, I really wished you would have accidentally touched them or forgotten to curtsy, or photographed them while they were eating. That would have made great Tribeca news.

  15. As a Swede who lives in Australia, I still can’t stand Mary. If they are so modern and down to earth, why can’t they let people photograf them or talk to them without all the formalities and bows. I think Mary tries too hard to be “the best” but in reality she is just up herself, spoilt and money loving person.

  16. I just returned from a trip to Copenhagen. My Danish friend insisted on taking me to Aaman’s for Smorebrod. It was fantastic! It was a little unnerving though to come home and find out that my quintessential Danish experience will be opening in Tribeca. haha.