In recent years, Bornholm has established its renown as a place for fine dining. Food producers are shooting up like asparagus in June, and restaurants and eateries abound. The island boasts restaurants in the Michelin league and eateries dedicated to serving a hearty, unassuming meal. The common feature of most of them is that they take pride in using local produce and ingredients. Locally brewed beer goes hand in hand with organic kombucha, with vegetables from smallholders, and meat from cattle raised on grass and patted by people. Bornholm residents proudly support their food producers.
But what if you’re a vegetarian? Or what if you’ve taken the next step and gone vegan? Is it still possible to enjoy some of the delicious food experiences? Of course it is. The biased image of a vegan as a socks-and-sandals hippy is outdated, and in a time of rising awareness of how meat production adversely affects the climate, veganism has gone mainstream – to such an extent that most people know the difference between seitan, tempeh and tofu. At least one vegetarian dish has found its way onto the menu of many restaurants and cafés, and increasing numbers of vegan alternatives are popping up all the time. In fact, a wide variety of vegan delicacies are available on Bornholm. All it takes is to know where to find them, so you don’t end up munching carrot sticks at the restaurant while the rest of your party sits there praising the magnificent lamb and splendid ice cream.
If you feel vegan-hungry soon after arriving by plane or ferry to Rønne, you have a variety of options in the town centre. At the Selma’s Home Cooking restaurant, just a few metres from Store Torv, Selma, of Indian origin, cooks vegan food that will delight your taste buds. The dishes are inspired by the Indian cuisine of Selma’s childhood and by Thai cuisine which impressed her while travelling in Asia. “After eating fried vegetables a few times, you soon get tired of it,” Selma says. “At my place, the food has distinctive flavours. There are always three or four hot vegan dishes on the menu and some at the buffet, too. You also have three or four salads to choose from if you’re not in the mood for a hot meal.”
At the other end of Store Torv is Café Munter. Here you will find a vegan burger made from kale and quinoa, which is quite popular among vegans. Naturally, we checked to make sure that the bun is vegan too. The menu at Café Munter usually includes a few vegan salads, so it’s safe to drop by if you’re a hungry vegan wandering the streets of Rønne.
If you’re on the northern part of the island when hunger strikes, there are vegan food experiences to be had, such as at Strandhotellet in Sandvig. Here the food primarily consists of vegetables, which is why meat is an optional side dish to the ‘green’ dishes typifying the menu. The hotel’s pizzas are also made with vegetables – and, if you tell them you’re a vegan, they will replace the cheese with a vegan alternative. The hotel’s breakfast restaurant has something for everyone. The coffee tastes good, but the best part is that vegans get special treatment here, too. “Last summer, COVID-19 forced us to do something new: serve breakfast in individual portions. We’ll keep doing it this year, too, and we also serve a vegan breakfast platter,” explains Kasper, who owns the hotel. “If we ever return to a traditional breakfast buffet, we’ll always include vegan food so that no one goes away hungry.”
Moving south along the coast to Gudhjem, it is possible to enjoy a delicious ‘mix-your-own’ salad, along with a selection of speciality soups and salads, which vary from one day to the next at Restaurant BrøDDan’s evening buffet. In addition, you can order a vegan pizza – without dairy-based cheese, of course.
If you feel hungry on the south-east part of the island, you will find one of the island’s most amusing eateries – Fiku Miku – in a former fishmonger’s on the Nexø waterfront. Although the venue doesn’t look fancy, it has an appealing atmosphere, with a fragrance of delicious food and fresh salty air. Here you will meet Magdalena, who owns and runs the place. The dishes change from day to day, and frequently include vegan options to make your mouth water – even if you are an inveterate carnivore. As Magdalena says: “Many of our customers choose the vegetable dishes, even if they’re not vegan or vegetarian.
The Molen restaurant is also located in Nexø, and here you can enjoy delicious vegan food with sea views, as long as you book a few days in advance. Troels – who does the cooking at both Molen and Det Røde Pakhus in Rønne – explains: “We don’t have vegan dishes per se on our menu, but we can easily make vegan food if you give us a couple of days’ notice.” So if you announce your arrival in advance, you can already start looking forward to the experience. The level of culinary ambition is high at both Molen and Det Røde Pakhus in Rønne, including when it comes to vegan dishes.
While you are on the east coast of Bornholm, you can also stop by ‘Høstet’, just north of Nexø. ‘Høstet’ is the only organic sea buckthorn plantation in Denmark. You can easily pass an entire afternoon here. You can start with a guided tour of the plantation where the owners, Mads and Camilla, describe their efforts involving these healthy berries. Every Friday is happy hour with organic and vegan drinks, as well as samples to taste. The happy-hour drinks are all based on sea buckthorn, of course. These tart, aromatic berries are a brilliant ingredient in drinks like gin and tonic. Happy hour is held from 3 to 5 pm every Friday in the peak season.
If you are passing through Svaneke, you can also drop by the Bonalâs pizzeria at Glastorvet 3. In the Bornholm dialect, Bonalâs means ‘yokel’ or ‘clodhopper’, and the pizzeria lives up to its name. Owners Kasper and Marie explain: “We’re proud of this designation. We’re locals, and our pizzas are deeply rooted in the Bornholm soil. Our produce and ingredients come from a variety of skilled food producers on Bornholm, and we harvest most of our vegetables from Kasper’s parents’ garden.” The Bonalâs menu features a new vegan pizza every month. The ingredients are usually written on the chalkboard.
Until recently it was also possible to eat vegan meals at Beyers Sushibar in Svaneke. And even if the sushi bar is no longer housed at Søndergade 2, vegans and other sushi enthusiasts will not have to do without chef Kasper Beyer’s impeccable rolls. In 2021, it will be possible to find Beyers Sushibar as a pop-up venue, and the menu will continue virtually unchanged. The restaurant serves side dishes such as edamame beans, seaweed salad with sesame seeds and broccoli asparagus with goma dressing, but also hosomaki with cucumber, avocado or asparagus and futomaki with avocado, cucumber, asparagus, sesame seeds and tofu pockets. Go to Beyers Sushibar’s Facebook page, where the location of the next pop-up sushi bar will be announced.
Many of the island’s sweets producers also have vegan alternatives, such as at Bolcheriet in Svaneke. This is where sweets are boiled and pressed, just like in the good ol’ days. Vegans can pick-and-mix their own bags of boiled sweets with peace of mind, but as the selection is vast and well-appointed, just ask to make sure that no ‘non-vegan’ variant is hiding among the others.
Kjaerstrup Chokolade, which has been producing the most delicious chocolates and cream puffs for years, has also realised the need to offer vegan alternatives. In fact, to be on the safe side, stick to products made of dark chocolate. This year, a new product that almost celebrates veganism has been added: a vegan cream puff!
And what is a warm summer’s day without ice cream – that creamy, sweet, cooling treat most of us associate with summer heat? Vegans have often had to be content with sherbets, but this isn’t necessary on Bornholm. Bornholms Ismejeri has been making ice cream based on oat milk for years –with very impressive results. Besides being able to please vegans, they are also renowned for using an abundance of local produce and ingredients and concocting interesting flavour combinations. Sometimes it is possible to taste an ice cream flavoured with rosemary or beer, for instance. No matter what you choose, there are always samples to taste, expert guidance and a cosy courtyard garden where you can enjoy your ice cream.
There are definitely other Bornholm restaurants, cafés and other food producers providing vegan culinary experiences besides the ones we’ve mentioned here. You will just have to taste your way to finding them. But at any rate, there’s no reason to eat ‘at home’ or take a packed lunch in the car or cycle basket when you’re out and about exploring the island. Bornholm’s restaurants, eateries and food producers welcome everyone.