When Noma, the shrine to New Scandinavian cuisine in Copenhagen, was named the world’s “Best Restaurant” in April—beating El Bulli of Spain—its reservations site was flooded with more than 100,000 requests. Would-be diners managed to book every slot through May, June and July. When reservations opened for August, every table was gone within an hour.

So I knew that dining at Noma on a recent trip to Copenhagen was going to be a challenge. Not just Herculean, it turns out, but Sisyphean. After an ordeal of emails, hours of dialing to a perpetually busy phone line, and a humbling encounter with a boorish maitre d’ when I decided to show up and try to get on the waiting list, I failed. But in failure found the next best thing—a gem of a restaurant called Godt, located downtown near King's Garden.

The royal family of Denmark apparently dines there, and their photos grace the walls. Sixteen-year-old Godt has just 20 seats and one menu—you eat what the husband-and-wife team has found fresh in the markets.

Today: starter of peanut-praline-dusted quail on pea puree with spring chive oil; sole in wild nettles sauce over spring cabbage with Judas ear mushrooms and thumbnail mussels; then veal with white truffle shavings and cauliflower, sprinkled with tiny garlic buds. There’s the option of cheese and dessert, and also a wine pairing.

When I peeked into the kitchen, I could see the chef, resembling the alchemic mad scientist from the movie “Back to the Future,” creating these extraordinary dishes, one after another. For only one glass of wine, the server—the co-owner wife of the chef—treated me to a richly honeyed 1997 Australian Semillon that stood up to all three dishes. [$80; four courses $95.]

These days, the best you can do at Noma is endeavor to get on the waiting list. (And good luck with that.) But why bother?

Sheridan Prasso is a New York-based writer specializing in international issues.

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