What do you get when you take two ex-Noma sous chefs, one world-class barista, and put them all in a little bakery on a corner in Copenhagen? Well, you get something pretty unique by the name of Café Lillebror.
Opened in November last year, Lillebror (Danish for “little brother”) is the second venture from Sam Nutter and Victor Wågman. Having both worked at Michelin-starred restaurants, including at Noma as sous chefs, Restaurant BROR was their first space together, opening in April 2013. With BROR finding a home in the fine-dining end of the spectrum, serving beautiful food alongside natural wine, the next logical step for the team was to find a space in which they could bake for BROR.
From there they began to look for an appropriate location, eventually finding a venue that had much more potential than just a bakery, and thus the beginnings of Café Lillebror were born. During the build, they brought on barista Linn Malnacs (formerly of The Coffee Collective, Market Lane Coffee, and Seven Seeds) to head up their coffee program using Koppi Coffee Roasters, and set out to create an all-day venue.
Chatting to Nutter and Wågman via email, they explained that their vision for Lillebror was “to serve really good bread, pastries, and sandwiches alongside high-quality coffee,” during the day, while in the evenings they could do what they were most experienced at—serve a dinner menu.
The space, carefully designed in collaboration with architect Christian Utzon, captures elements of day and night and combines them beautifully. During the day, the space is light, bright, and easygoing, with sunlight streaming in and pastries and bread adorning the shelves and counter. As day turns to night, Lillebror transforms into its evening persona—an intimate setting with stunning food and wine being served.
For coffee service, espresso coffee is pulled through a La Marzocco Linea PB machine, with a Mazzer Robur grinder, while filter coffee is ground using the iconic Mahlkönig EK 43 grinder and hand-brewed using Kalita Wave brewers. The owners having already built a strong personal and professional relationship with Koppi coffee roasters at BROR, the decision to use Koppi at Lillebror was a logical step.
It’s a huge challenge for any business to handle the transition from daytime service to an evening venue, and Lillebror initially struggled to communicate this difference to customers. Nutter and Wågman outlined, “During the day the space is busy and bustling with guests coming and going, during the evening we aim to deliver a much more intimate and cosy dining experience. When we first opened, we stayed open all day from 8 a.m. until around 11 p.m., and we found our evening guests interacted with the space similarly to the way they do during the day—we lost the restaurant feel we wanted to achieve in the evening.”
Upon observing this, they decided to close for an hour each day between 4:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m., giving staff the chance to make the change from cafe to restaurant, and giving guests a sense of shifting direction.
During the day, food service is simple, delicious, and comforting. Breakfast can be a delicious combination of their sausage and egg sandwich with a side of filter coffee, or later, a pulled pork sandwich and coffee tonic for lunch. In the evenings, the atmosphere is absolutely and tangibly different, with delicious small plates like grilled cabbage and scallops accompanied by a beautiful selection of natural wines (Philippe Bornard’s Melon Le Rouge Queue 2010, anyone?) or one of their delicious beers on tap.
While the daytime/nighttime venue can be a hard one to master in practice, at this point, Café Lillebror absolutely excels at multitasking: it’s a bakery, a coffee shop, a brunch haven, a world-class restaurant, and a wine bar—all bundled up into one neat little package.