We all have those dishes, the one or two plates that remind us of warmth and home; as the weather begins to turn, there doesn’t seem to be a time in which comfort food calls to us any stronger. For many, those dishes that remind us of simpler times are a matter of a quick trip down to the kitchen, or a phone call to mom, but what about those of us who draw our roots a little further afield? As a nation, we pride ourselves on our multi-culturism, but that means that for many Canadians, the dishes that bring simple pleasure are not commonplace, and the ingredients to make them can often be difficult to find.
Which is why places like The Danish Place, tucked away on a quiet tree lined country road in Puslinch, are so important. Located on the grounds of the Sunset Villa Association, a non-profit Danish-Canadian club, The Danish Place plays a central role in serving and growing the Danish community of Southern Ontario, some even coming from up to two hours away. All of this being a huge reason that new owner, Mark Mogensen was so interested in taking over when the previous owners had to close last October.
From a family with Danish heritage, his paternal grandparents immigrated from Denmark in the 1940s, Mark grew up going to the restaurant at the villa; he understood the role that a Danish centric restaurant played in the community and wanted to do his part to not only preserve it, but to expand it; growing its reach and influence for future generations.
If Mark’s name sounds familiar, that would be because this is his second business; he also owns Black Birch Restaurant in Mono. While he and his head chef at The Danish Place, Maia Buratynsky, have borrowed and brought over some popular entrees from Black Birch, they intend to make sure that The Danish Place respects its roots with distinctly Danish dishes, and newer dishes with authentic Danish influences. They want the customers who have been coming for years, even decades, to recognize the menu and atmosphere, feeling at home within the familiar walls, while still being able to create something that is their own in the space that remains.
At the moment their menu consists of three parts, the sandwich menu and specials, which are available all day, and then the dinner entrees which are available from 5pm onwards. While the entrees currently are where the bulk of the “borrows” from Black Birch are located, their hopes are to expand and adapt that particular menu as they get their feet under them. The specials change day-to-day, typical with creative takes on Danish cuisine, but it is the sandwich menu where the bulk of their Danish influence is centered at the moment.
If you are anything like me, and this is the first time you are really beginning to explore Danish cuisine, then let me tell you what I learned: open faced sandwiches, referred to as smørrebrød are a very popular part of a traditional Danish diet. But, don’t be fooled by the apparent simplicity of these breads. While they are generally made with buttered rye bread, and topped with cold cuts, meat or fish, cheese or spread and garnish, there are traditional orders not just to how you layer the toppings, but in which order you eat them. I might not have caught the entire process, but I can tell you where to start: the seafood. You might be on your own from there.
A lot of prep work goes into ensuring that everything is ready to prepare these sandwiches properly; however, they do make a great communal platter for parties, weddings and other gatherings – all of which The Danish Place is happy to discuss arrangements for should you be interested.
Open Friday through Sunday, 11am – 8pm, The Danish Place is ready to serve you a taste of Denmark in their quaint, cozy dining rooms, whether this be your first time visiting, or you’re returning for an old favourite that reminds you of home. One time in particular that they encourage you to come out is during “Bakers Sunday” which typically happen on the first or second Sunday of the month (Covid has affected the timing slightly). This is a big takeout day for The Danish Place, encouraging customers to visit the grounds of the Villa, as well as the gift shops and the Danish bakery that sets up shop in one of the cottages.
We all have those dishes that bring us comfort, and they do not always have to stay the same – so if you’re looking for a new experience, then drive on down the winding tree lined roads until you find The Danish Place; maybe I’ll see you there.
Written by: Jillian Kent | Photography: Cory Bruyea