If Claus Meyer gets his way, New Yorkers may soon be reaching for open-faced smørrebrød sandwiches instead of burgers and bagels. The co-founder of Copenhagen’s storied Noma restaurant — who owns numerous bakeries and restaurants back home in Denmark — expanded to New York earlier this year, launching a multipronged and multimillion-dollar Nordic invasion that includes a Brooklyn bakery, an impending cooking school in Brownsville, and a trio of ambitious Grand Central Terminal properties.
The crown jewel of the latter (and maybe the whole operation) is Agern. The dining room — all sweeping curves and blond wood — is tucked away in a serenely handsome and high-ceilinged windowless chamber that once housed a men’s smoking lounge. Its dual entrances are somewhat inconspicuous, up a staircase from the Dane’s hot dog kiosk on one side, and adjacent his massive, Nordic Vanderbilt Hall food court on the other. Diners seated at the bar sip herbal cocktails while spearing the sprigs of arctic thyme that cover tender duck and a whole roasted rutabaga. Helming Agern’s kitchen is Icelandic chef Gunnar Karl Gíslason, whom Meyer describes to the Voice as possessing, among other qualities, the “soul and backbone of a Viking” and the “touch of a geisha.” — Zachary Feldman