As the little brother of Noma, 108 has yeti-size shoes to fill, though on previous visits the restaurant has proven more than ready and willing to meet that challenge head-on. The cuisine has grown progressively sharper as the freshness of some dishes in the establishment’s early days has given way across the board to great flavour. 108 obliterates the conventional wisdom that New Nordic cuisine lacks punch. The servings are simple, featuring few but attentively prepared elements. One of our favourites is the raw Skagen shrimp, decoratively served as a flower encircled by red sorrel atop small salted green strawberries – a fine, elegant dish packed with fantastic flavour from sweet shrimp of the freshest quality. Ribbon-like slices of octopus in bacon broth – a New Nordic spin on ramen – is a 108 classic whose pure simplicity and deep intensity steal the show, with small pieces of glasswort adding the taste of the sea. Batter-fried oxtail meatballs with fir shoots is an ultra-hyped yet heavenly mouthful; we find ourselves compelled to order an extra round. Another dish deserving mention is the salt-baked celeriac, decoratively sliced into ribbons, rolled into spirals and topped with a rich, thick sauce featuring aged Gammel Knas cheese and grilled parsley, with subtle burnt notes providing the finishing touch. The service is exceptional and attentive, as 108 benefits greatly from its relation to Noma, whose magnetic attraction draws in passionate chefs and waiters from around the world. Sommelier Riccardo Marcon directs the proceedings with an impressively unpretentious and knowledgeable approach, and predominately natural wine pairings. Follow his recommendations and delve into an exciting world of wine that both challenges and pleases. The challenge stems from the characteristic acetic acid in the natural wines and ciders, which can prove to be a tart pleasure. But it is also fantastic to be served a powerful oaked savagnin from Jura full of body, acidity and complexity – and to discover how a light and slightly bitter, almost meaty cabernet franc from a non-appellation region outside Provence perfectly matches an animalistic serving of beetroot, blackcurrant and smoked veal heart. 108 often takes it to the limit, both in terms of food and wine, and that is precisely where a restaurant experience turns truly exceptional: on the border between madness and genius. Yet we land on safe ground every time, as flavour wins over ideas at this tightly run ship, where unpretentious waiters guide the experience with a steady hand from start to finish.
It’s impressive how quickly you can get from the hustle and bustle of Copenhagen’s Nyhavn to the peaceful surroundings of Refshaleøen. Here one finds Charlotte Amalie’s Bastion, a gunpowder magazine built in 1744 and now the home of Restaurant 56°. The old wooden beams holding up the whitewashed ceilings and the lambskin-clad wooden furniture are reminiscent of Noma, and 56° certainly shares Nordic cuisine as its guiding star. The room has a warmth and tranquillity, enhanced all the more by our pleasant waiter, who provides impeccable and informal service. The menu’s three courses showcase seasonal ingredients, some of which are grown by the restaurant itself while others are sourced from local biodynamic farmers. A couple of appetisers in the form of poached quail egg with fermented garlic and pickled Jerusalem artichokes in a Jerusalem artichoke foam set the Nordic stage before we move on to the first course featuring lumpfish and horseradish. At the centre of the dish is a moulded horseradish mousse packing a spicy kick. It’s topped with lumpfish roe and surrounded by smoked lumpfish, wild herbs and crisp pieces of pear. The pear proves essential with its succulence and crispness, providing an exquisite contrast to the tender lumpfish and soft mousse. Our waiter pours an exotic still white wine of pure pinot noir from Beaufort in Champagne, which is far too acidic on its own, but paired with the dish is a perfect match – a daring and impressive choice. The main course combines the rustic and elegant: young pork shanks on the bone, served with pommes fondant, herbed mashed potatoes and an intense cognac sauce. The dish could have used more of the pickled slices of daikon for freshness in this somewhat heavy serving made from otherwise excellent ingredients. A rich desert of coffee caramel and dark ale ice cream round out a superb meal, where rustic and refined techniques go hand in hand with the beautiful surroundings.
With high ambitions in terms of ingredients and the technical execution of complex dishes, Aabyudengaard serves an inspiring array of re-envisioned Danish classics, taking a playful approach while surprising us along the way. We begin with a tour de Denmark whose route passes through Northern Jutland, Funen, the Wadden Sea and Bornholm. The technical finesse of the kitchen is evident in their take on a Danish classic “Sun over Bornholm”. A beautiful egg yolk confit in a velvety coating of smoked cream accompanies a wonderful smoked herring, topped tableside with a potato salad in chiffon form: an amazing combination of rich flavours, soft textures, salt and smoke. Our tour moves on to the Wadden Sea with a fresh and deliciously composed oyster topped with aquavit foam and rosehip gelée. A surprise comes as the waiter removes the empty oyster shell and reveals the second part of the serving: turbot with saltwort, sweet jelly and crisp breadcrumbs, topped at the table with a split seaweed sauce. This cheeky and intense surprise is initially somewhat unattractive in appearance, and the fish drowns in the flavours, but the fresh and highly acidic 2015 trousseau from Baud in Jura is an intelligent and solid pairing. For dessert, we end up on the island of Funen with Denmark’s “brunsviger” cake, traditionally made with a yeast dough coated in a brown sugar glaze. Here it begins as a wonderful apple crumble on a delicate ice cream with goat’s cheese, all of which goes nicely with an Austrian trockenbeerenauslese. The second part of the serving features a daring and successful combination of apple granité with the flavours of brunsviger in a kefir cream with vanilla and nuts. The coffee is brewed at the table and served with a sublime sea buckthorn sorbet with caramelised white chocolate, rounding off an exquisite evening with surprising, innovative and ambitious double servings.
The guys behind the Ved Stranden 10 wine bar have embarked on an ambitious new project. At Admiralgade 26, the excellent wine is joined by cuisine that is personable and unassuming, yet still maintains an edge. The decor reflects a controlled chaos with designer furniture scattered throughout. Each evening they choose to adorn one of the raw wooden tables with a Damask tablecloth, making it the “elegant” table that diners may end up at by chance. The bistro also has an academic touch, with its own newspaper featuring such luminaries as Rilke and Kafka. Consideration must also be given to sustainability, various dietary interests and other matters of importance in the upper echelons of the gastronomic world. The restaurant’s chosen style is assured with the adept Chef Jonas Hillgaard (formerly of Relæ and Manfreds) in the kitchen: there is room here for culinary enjoyment and luxurious indulgence. The menu inevitably offers oysters and caviar, but in combination with great creativity and artistry. The starters tend to be stingy in size, but the house bouillabaisse is nonetheless worthy of mention. With a reduced, rich fish stock, loads of fresh fish and shellfish, and a generous use of liquoricey herbs, this soup teems with flavour. The main course of hanger steak is succulent and intense with bits of rich marrow and sharp, pickled onions. The juicy pata negra pork is wonderfully chaperoned by a wealth of small chanterelles and slightly bitter cress sprinkled generously on top. Mustard adds an edge to the flavour of both meat dishes, which are of the highest class in terms of ingredients and preparation. Many of the wines are within the realm of organic/natural, though not dogmatically, and every wine on the menu is also available by the glass – a sympathetic touch. We enjoy a 2010 Barolo from Eugenio Bocca in La Morra. With a remarkably elegant combination of classic notes of warm herbs, white flowers and tobacco held together in a highly tannic body, it’s the type of wine you dream of meeting again. Add to this the competent and empathetic service, and it should come as no surprise that we certainly will be paying a return visit.
We begin with a champagne called Mémoire. Crisp, with some depth, it proves a good pairing with the evening’s many snacks. It is also a harbinger of things to come: a parade of beliefs and memories manifested as dishes. Renowned for his social engagement and bold creativity, Chef Rasmus Munk compels diners at Alchemist to contemplate a wide array of perspectives. We are whisked away to every corner of the world Munk has visited, into uncharted waters with ingredients such as live insects, udder, blood and offal. The dishes push us to the limit, some gently and others more forcefully, yet the experience is held together by the careful selection of ingredients, impeccable flavour and cordial, humorous and knowledgeable service. Alchemist has but one menu and it contains 45 servings. It is all-in from the get-go with a tart sprinkling of ants over a mouthful of frozen apple foam and picturesque flowers. The kitchen’s affinity for molecular gastronomy and miracle powders is immediately clear as it conjures up juice-filled “cherries” with a hard chocolaty shell, chips with tomato powder in an edible bag, and mushroom quiche featuring a sphere that explodes on the palate with the intense flavours of mushroom and thyme. The meal is interwoven with entertainment and deliciousness, as evidenced by the gin-based drink we sip through straws from an iced lemon to the sounds of Balkan disco. The electronica-heavy soundtrack, curated especially for the restaurant, is a story in itself. Diners arrive throughout the evening, however, so it may be pure coincidence that a scathing violin intensely accompanies the proceedings as we stuff ourselves like caged geese with foie gras cream and freeze-dried maize. It tastes good, but the serving is not exactly pleasant and the symbolism is hard to miss. The same is true when Munk rolls in with a drip bag hanging from a rack that contains “blood” of beetroot and chicken stock. The sauce is sprayed over a lamb’s heart filled with tartare and we are furnished with a leaflet containing information on organ donation. The symbolism is more light-hearted as the theme from Beverly Hills 90210 blares out from a pair of headphones and we let all seriousness subside and simply munch on a grilled ham and cheese sandwich. The ham is dried Joseli from about the same year (2006) that Rasmus Munk spent time in front of the TV in his teenage bedroom. Similarly humoristic are the satay skewers with “balls” – cock balls, that is – that we grill over charcoal, and wine gum earthworms that we dig up from edible soil. The food is kept on track by the excellent wine pairings and an exotic juice menu featuring such choices as avocado juice and piña colada. Generally speaking, the wines are better matched than the juices. Take the iced tea with yuzu, for example, which is far too sweet for the deconstructed sushi of Japanese cod with caviar and soy sauce in a cone of nori, whereas a deep, mineral aligoté from 2007 fits this lovely dish like a glove. Forty-five servings sounds like a lot, but time flies by from the moment you take your seat at one of the dining bar’s soft chairs and allow yourself to be treated and entertained. Alchemist is intense, often teetering on the edge, and it will expand the horizons of the vast majority of its guests. In return, it is never boring and offers a virtually unparalleled total experience that is equal parts delicious, thoughtful and thought provoking.
It’s quite a trek out to the furthest reaches of Copenhagen’s Refshaleøen, where the crew at Amass usher guests into the high-ceilinged, street-art-clad cement-encased room with one of the most beautiful views of the city’s skyline. Chef Matt Orlando is at the head of a unique team comprising chefs, waiters and his wife Julie, who from their open kitchen spend the evening serving diners in a friendly and personable style that never becomes overbearing. Everyone appears to feel extremely comfortable here and the clientele is a diverse group representing more than one corner of the globe. Orlando’s style is all about show-casing pure organic flavour in original compositions and he is bent on avoiding waste and utilising as much as possible from the restaurant’s own raised garden beds and newly-built recirculating greenhouse. Amass is a crown jewel in sustainability, so it comes as little surprise that the kitchen practices the craft of fermentation. Orlando learned many tricks of the trade while at Noma, but he avoids hyperbole and every culinary decision is bound by what makes sense for a given dish. A cured brill is served with residual yeast from a beer brewer, fermented plums from last year and freshly picked shoots of arugula from the greenhouse. It is an overwhelming explosion of sharp arugula balanced by the acidic lemon peel, heat from a little chilli, sweetness from the plums and umami from the yeast. In another attractive dish carrots are seasoned with apple cider vinegar, chamomile and Japanese tea, and come resting atop a “ricotta” made out of blended almonds with notes of marzipan; the pickled elderflowers prove imperative. The sweetness is balanced by a wonderful glass of Pouilly-Fumé from Alexander Bain; it shows how restaurant manager and sommelier Bo Bratlann has curated the wine list without an iota of compromise, while also daring to think outside the box. The kitchen seamlessly weaves new cultural tales into the meal, like when Orlando transforms the chuno technique (the Incan method of drying potatoes) in an enticing dish of mussels, ramsons, dried potatoes and burnt lemon. Vegetables are at the hub of the sustainable philosophy, with meat served sparingly but all the more admirably. The lamb neck comes from animals that graze on pastures of angelica on an island off Iceland – and that flavour comes through in the heavenly meat, whose richness is held tautly together by black pepper oil, celeriac and sour cream. The desserts cater to the sweet tooth without going the pastry path. Despite the brilliance of the caramelised croutons with grated browned butter and frozen yoghurt, the top scorer is the vegan hazelnut ice cream with coffee grounds, marzipan, slightly burnt flakes of Oiala chocolate and meaningful drops of porcini oil. It’s the most luxurious ice cream on a stick ever, and just part of the accomplished execution that indicates that Amass is a restaurant at the pinnacle of its achievement.
This restaurant and its owners exude enthusiasm and dedication. In the middle of Copenhagen’s Vesterbro district, three talented restaurateurs who present themselves as Partick, Johann and Andreas have opened a wine bar with a five-course daily menu, from which diners can also order à la carte. The room resembles the rustic living room of a local designer. In the back is the treasured collection of wine constituting the establishment’s primary raison d’être. But make no mistake: the food is excellent and excellently priced. The cuisine here is inspired by the leading Nordic restaurants and a love of flavour. Take, for example, an invigorating and delightful cut of perfectly prepared cod on a fresh and creamy potato purée with miso cream and a forest of cress, topped with crisp rye flakes. The composition of this evening’s dishes is exquisite. Nordic cuisine is in full effect with pickled leek, burnt leek, chopped pickled parsley stems that taste like capers and small islands of ramson mayo. The wines are available by the glass or bottle – all of which cost less than DKK 500. In our glasses, we enjoy bubbles from Mas Candi, Tinc Set from Penedes, and a north Catalonian L’Esprit de l’Horizon, which despite its warm origin is cool like a burgundy and razor-sharp – and, of course, biodynamic. The service is remarkably attentive and professional. If you don’t happen to eat lamb, which is the main course today, the kitchen can instead whip up a serving of pork neck. In which case the wonderful Comté with browned butter is substituted with an inventive celeriac dish. With a lively glass of red Loire wine from Hervé Villemade, we arrive at the lemon soufflé at the end of an inviting meal that’s perfectly suited to a weekday evening out, as well as slightly more festive occasions.
The name AOC refers to restaurant manger, owner and sommelier (“Christian Aarø and co.”), but it is also a fitting wordplay on the term “appellation d'origine controlee” because of the originality and exquisite experience of dining under the historic vaulted ceilings of the basement at Moltke’s Palace in the heart of Copenhagen. Aarø, one of Denmark’s most knowledgeable wine experts, is joined by Chef Søren Selin, himself a leader in gastronomic perfectionism and creativity. Selin and Aarø’s competence and professionalism permeate the atmosphere and staff in way that makes everyone relax and enjoy this exceptional culinary journey. The appetisers start off with the Nordic notes of sea lettuce, fermented and subtle cucumber, fried cladonia lichen with chicken liver and, not least, a small fried potato crustade with leek cream that delivers the classic taste of sour cream and onion. The Nordic tartare taco is an impressive display of originality, made from choice minced beef from a biodynamic farm that slaughters one cow a month; it’s accompanied by acidic and bitter pickled gooseberries and distinctive cress. After that we transition to mild creaminess in the form of flounder with hollandaise and Havgus cheese. Only then does the actual ten-course menu begin – and what a beginning! Our fantastic young waiter is ebullient as he serves whole kohlrabi with the top still attached to each guest. Lifting the “lid” from the top of the root vegetable reveals a mild tarragon cream on top of a Limfjord oyster and small cubes of kohlrabi, apple, kale and sweet woodruff. All the taste sensations and multiple textures are at play in this rewarding and comforting explosion of flavour whose green theme is adroitly paired with a grüner veltliner from Weingut Pichler-Krutzler in Wachau. All of the dishes ultimately earn the status of “favourite”, including scallop in thin layers with the crispness of daikon and acidity of fermented asparagus, tied together by mussel cream and dill oil. The signature dish of Zittauer onion with caviar and elderflower is equally unforgettable. This mighty onion is baked to a core temperature of 90 degrees, then presented and carved at the table as part of the evening’s extensive table presentation, after which it is arranged with two types of caviar and then topped with a refreshing beurre blanc with elderflower and champagne. Paired with the riesling Mölsheim from Weingut Battenfeld-Spanier in Rheinhessen, this serving is pure elation. The menu continues with BBQ king crab, whose smoke notes and lemon thyme send mind-blowingly intense flavour careening in all directions through our tasting apparatus. Potatoes with morels, Danish lamb with ramsons, caramelised Jerusalem artichoke, and hazelnut and juniper berry ice cream with fermented gooseberries and blackcurrants all confirm that AOC is a place for a celestial meal that combines innovative Nordic purity with classic virtues.
We are sitting on discount café chairs and the table is far from spacious. There’s music in the background and the decor is neutral at best. Yet none of this matters because food and people are what it takes to create atmosphere and a great experience. Mads Hyllested’s cuisine is grotesque, in the positive sense: affordable yet innovative, humorous, and perfectly served in complex compositions. We choose a 2012 German biodynamic riesling from Clems Busch, but could just as well have chosen another from the many excellent options. The wine list is well composed and even the cellar wines are inexpensive. The service is youthful and relaxed, but highly knowledgeable and capable. Our starters include delicious and sticky teriyaki-marinated chicken drumsticks with a bold marrow cream full of ferrous notes. This dish is surpassed in its coddling of our instinctive pleasure receptors by a crushed potato confit in browned butter with rich sour cream swathed in lumpfish roe with a perfect balance of salt and acidity. A slice of grilled, oil-drenched bread with a discreet Høost cheese sauce and crisp, generously salted chicken skin on an artichoke cream is a true incarnation of Hyllested’s genius and economic acumen. It’s a simple yet rousing seasonal dish with a wise use of ingredients – but comfort food first and foremost. The baked cod with acidic and crisp marinated kohlrabi and a blanquette sauce with smoked butter is a bit dry, unfortunately. But we are spellbound by the magnificence of the roasted Brussels sprouts and Tuscan kale with parsley cream and shredded, dried lamb heart, which of course packs umami and a powerful depth that would bring a smile to the lips of even the greatest of cabbage sceptics. A little twist of lemon here adds to the brilliance and testifies to
Hyllested’s gastronomic deftness. Applaus is a venue for small dishes that showcase popular flavours, though often surprising in concept and composition.
The gang behind Babette has really become comfortable in their own skin as the little neighbourhood restaurant has become a popular watering hole for regulars, families with children and guests from far away. The feeling of entering someone’s private living room is accentuated by the cordial reception and broad smiles among the staff. Here there are no stiff pretensions, high-flown clichés, or lectures, but just good food, great wines, and an atmosphere that makes everyone feel welcome. Frida Hansson, who most recently comes from Eriks Wine Bar, is the latest sommelier addition at Babette and she guides us with an experienced hand among the restaurant’s treats. The rustic wild duck terrine with pickled onions and a big slice of sourdough bread is washed down with a well-chosen glass of red and the combo is, as promised, very good. Even the fresh leafy green salad with a perfectly creamy egg, crunchy and salty pancetta, crispy beans and sour cream disappears in a flash down the hatch. One cannot come to Babette without trying one of the venue’s famous pizzas. The legacy of the former pizzeria (yes, that was what was in the room before) has been refined and developed and today they serve some of the city’s most delicious pizzas. Smoked beef, soft-baked figs, Parmesan and spicy tomato sauce sounds as good as it is.
It takes something special to maintain a leading gastronomic establishment far from the big city and without the option of overnight accommodations. Yet that is exactly what Chef Vivi Schou has accomplished with Restaurant Babette, which she runs with her husband, Henrik Pedersen. The duo has been accompanied throughout the years by the indelible talent of restaurant manager Brian Jensen, and additions like Partrick Godborg and Jesper Dams Hansen have invigorated the kitchen. Babette’s menu now combines an innovative touch with an unwavering respect for classic gastronomy, as reflected in the chef’s choice to offer guinea fowl this evening. The hospitality is exceptional and you feel almost honoured by the opportunity to taste the treasures of Pedersen’s cellar, from old burgundies to ingenious new purchases from worlds new and old. The decor is dominated by golden woods, copious white tulips and large green plants. Pedersen’s past as a florist shines through. The menu is predominantly green, fresh and from the sea, but you can count on it touching on a full range of flavours. The kitchen brilliantly seasons, properly salts and insightfully uses acidity and richness, all while retaining the delicate and pure flavours of their unique ingredients. The result is exquisite. After a procession of diverse and inventive snacks comes the highlight of the evening: a baked halibut, white and firm, under a canopy of dried oysters with chamomile tea and oyster emulsion, vacuum-prepared daikon sticks and leftover stalks of watercress. Waste is avoided with great ingenuity, and the resulting meal is a testament to the enlightenment and enjoyment a dining experience can deliver. The creaminess of the dish is held in check by the frail, bitter chamomile, while the stalks and daikon add texture and bite. The pumpkin ravioli is a surprising bull’s-eye. There’s cream cheese and rosehips in the filling, but it’s not overly perfumed, and the pasta is topped with a frothy sauce and a generous dose of vadouvan. It’s piquant, acidic, rich, and trailed by a bitter, creamy edge. It becomes all the more spectacular paired with an older vintage of gewürztraminer from Zind-Humbrecht, the first of several extraordinary wine pairings. Next is Pouilly-Fumé paired with clear beef consommé with foie gras and pickled mushrooms, and then a 2004 Chambolle-Musigny, which escorts the moist guinea fowl through three variations on onion and ramson. We particularly enjoy the fresh parsnip dessert with a broken gel of lemon and wheat berries, resting on a base of perfect vanilla ice cream. Babette is well worth a trip for its brilliantly executed delectable cuisine and untethered indulgence.
Natural wines paired with a fusion of New Nordic and Italian cuisines may not sound like a bulletproof recipe for success. But as these elements unfold while dining at Brace, the result is marvelous. After a year at Era Ora, Chef Nicola Fanetti has taken the helm at Brace to pursue his passion for Italian simplicity, where ingredients combine on the plate in a visually tight and artistic presentation. Take, for example, the grilled flank steak with slightly bitter kale and sharp horseradish bordered by black lines of fermented garlic and golden drops of orange reduction – a presentation reminiscent of a work by Miró. The ambitious Fanetti showcases an array of techniques that add surprise and edge. Although the ingredients are primarily Nordic and Italian, the flavour palette touches every corner of the world during the 12-course menu. This diversity is manifest in an unconventional but delicious dish, sous-vide Danish octopus with crunchy puffed quinoa breading, arranged over a purée of pumpkin with ginger, mint and wood sorrel. The octopus is perfectly paired with a glass of white Rhône wine, La Coudée d'Or from Philippe Viret, which combines the right amount of acidity and frutiness to balance the minty refinement of the dish. Our incredibly skilled sommelier, Felix Chamorro, has composed the wine pairings with impressive flair and cadence. In the middle of the menu a bold tannic red wine from the volcanic terroir of Etna matches a blast of warm lamb carpaccio with pasta, fried oyster mushrooms, lamb reduction foam, nasturtium flowers and sour raspberry powder, arranged to replicate the Italian flag. This is followed by a refreshing chardonnay from Fanny Sabre in Burgundy to accompany a surprising and innovative dish of salsify covered with slices of beet, celeriac and a piquant kick of garlic purée. The dish is a peppy zinger in the midst of our meat fervour, while the refreshing white wine provides a boost in the tailwinds of the relatively heavy red. It is a rare feat indeed to see such elegant compositions of food and wine intertwined so seamlessly. With bold originality and flawless presentation, Copenhagen’s New Nordic Italian is definitively top-class.
BROR is an intimate two-storey restaurant that has become known for its emphasis on using all parts of the various animals that come through the cramped little kitchen in the narrow streets of central Copenhagen. The restaurant interior consists of upcycled tables and chairs – even the plates are upcycled and come in all colours and sizes. You don't come here for the decór. Instead you pay a very reasonable price for top-quality produce, good service and very well-matched natural wines. This becomes evident from the start with the unique snacks, which include juicy cod cheeks on rye with dill oil, lightly smoked trout served in its own crisp skin, and a small bag of crisps made from fried pieces of bull’s penis that you dip in a heavy sour cream dusted with ramson powder. It’s tongue-in-cheek and inventive without compromising on flavour. The service here is warm, attentive and to the point, and knowledgeable about the mainly natural wines which accompany the menu. Nothing is wasted here and the omnivorous approach becomes evident in the juicy roast chicken hearts, served almost rare, along with sweet and bitter burnt broccoli, broccoli purée, slices of the stem and a fresh chlorophyllic watercress and whey sauce. A very crisp natural chardonnay from Saint-Veran cuts right through. The desserts include a marrow crème brûlée served in a marrowbone, and it tastes exactly like what you’d expect. The rich, bordering on intensely meaty crème is held in place by a zingy quince and elderflower sorbet, and the creaminess and the burnt sugar notes are precisely matched with an aged sweet Loire chenin blanc. BROR is a top choice for a tastefully provocative meal anchored in quality produce and skill.
The table is elegantly clad in a white tablecloth, with blue fluted Royal Copenhagen porcelain atop underplates of silver. Works from the Golden Age of Danish painting adorn the walls. There is an authentic atmosphere of a bygone era, as the impressive historic surroundings seem to make time stand still, evoking a unique sense of tranquillity. This atmosphere is further enhanced by the waiters, who provide service of the highest calibre. Guests are of course addressed with the proper formality, yet with a friendly undertone and room for brief anecdotes on the history of the place. This discerning elegance fits like a glove with the French cuisine of Michel Michaud. The first course on the inspiration menu is an attractive tartare of salmon and Perle Blanche oyster with a lid of caviar that appears to hover over a clear tomato gelée in the bottom of the dish. Fresh and slightly acidic, the tomato provides a good base for the pure taste of fish and shellfish. From there the dishes become even more classic; so much so that at times we find ourselves longing for another nuanced twist like the tomato gelée. There are more than enough reduced broths, velvety smooth purées, classic sauces and expertly precise preparations, but this is exactly where Michaud’s kitchen team is at home. Cauliflower purée, fried wolffish and grenobloise sauce with browned butter, capers and toasted hazelnuts are the few but well-chosen components of the excellent in-between course. Simple and rather straightforward, the spectrum of flavour is completed by a glass of Meursault with buttery notes, a nutty aroma and a nice acidity. The wine list is extensive, and one can confidently leave the choice of a bottle or wine pairings to the waiters, who will undoubtedly find an exquisite match for the classic French cuisine and historic surroundings.
Our evening at Bühlmann begins with snacks in the historic manor’s distinctive wine cellar surrounded by quality bottles and homemade charcuterie hanging to dry. The first bite elegantly contrasts a crisp pickled shell of kohlrabi with a filling of slightly sweet and creamy lobster tartare. The flavours are also well composed in the crispy brioche with sweet onion marmalade, Havgus cheese and a slice of the lardo that has been drying in the cellar. The restaurant itself, situated in one of the old rooms of Hotel Scheelsminde, is pompously decorated with dark wood and heavy tablecloths, but it fits like a glove with the site and its French-inspired cuisine. The first dish on the menu is a cured scallop with a mild taste of the sea and wonderful texture, accompanied by the fresh acidity of green strawberries and a sauce of gooseberries and dill. Once again the flavours are precisely balanced, and a young chardonnay from South Tyrol harmonises nicely with the aromatic complexity and acidity of the dish. The wine pairings reflect careful consideration and are finely presented, while the service staff exhibit great mastery and professionalism with an eye for small details. In the in-between course featuring onion, the strong onion bouillon is adjusted nicely with pickled onions while a poached egg yolk provides the required fat to hold it all together. However, these delicately nuanced combinations are slightly disrupted by the sharp taste of bitter, undercooked raw onion. But such small glitches are easily correctable. With its keen focus on local ingredients, classic taste and good service, Bühlmann has positioned itself among the best restaurants in Aalborg.
Meat ages on hooks in a glass cabinet while a facility above the restaurant produces cheese made from the organic milk of the restaurant’s own cows. Chef Christian Puglisi and his crew are staunchly at the controls of Bæst. Despite its loose atmosphere, nothing is left to chance when it comes to the ingredients and their organic origin. We watch as the chefs pull pizzas out of the wood-fired oven in the ultra-open kitchen. The noise level is moderate on this Monday evening, but the restaurant is full of people. Perhaps that is why the service is so slow. We wait more than a half hour for the first round of charcuterie. Fortunately, the food – like the glass of skin-fermented Garganega from Veneto – is well worth the wait. Ham, fennel sausage, lardo, coppa, wonderous ‘nduja sausage with paprika, dried duck with an insistent aged taste, pork rillettes with the pleasant crunch of crisped rinds and a tiny bowl of pickled root vegetables: let the meat orgy begin! With a little difficulty, we manage to order more wine from the enthralling selection of natural wines, followed by the highlight of our evening – homemade mozzarella. Taking a bite of mozzarella so fresh that thick pearls of milk dribble out between the layers of cheese is – and will always be – a delightful experience. The creamy stracciatella cheese with paper-thin slices of Cinta Senese ham and freshly grated mushrooms is also worth noting for its wonderful air of paysan luxury. Bæst is known for its seasonal pizzas, and this time of year (winter) obviously calls for cabbage, which adds a somewhat funky taste to the otherwise phenomenal soft pizza crust with its perfect acidity and slightly burnt notes. We have enjoyed much better service on previous visits, and the menu would have benefitted from a little more veg. But these things take nothing away from the fact that you can count on carefully considered and excellent flavour for your money at Bæst.
Castenskiold is the Aarhus food scene’s version of the so-called supper clubs of 1930s America: popular all-night destinations for patrons seeking entertainment in the form of food, music and alcohol. This establishment by the city centre waterway remains a hip venue for the creative class to sip on passion fruit caipiroskas or champagne from the excellent wine list on the weekends. But they should also take an interest in the restaurant’s modern bistro cuisine, which is among the city’s best. We are seated right behind the command centre, a large bar lined with concrete pillars, sanguine velvet drapes, designer furniture and understated lighting. Our waiter is equal parts professionally competent and extremely pleasant. He serves us a small glass of cremant to get us started. We choose a variety of dishes from the extensive menu. Our waiter unleashes a sharp, mineral Tokaj in our glasses that waltzes beautifully with a carpaccio of langoustine from the very first bite. The shellfish has an extremely fresh, creamy and intense taste of the sea, adeptly countered by crisp kohlrabi, warm sour cream and grated horseradish. Only the sharp acidity of the pickled green tomatoes misbehaves, but the harmony remains intact, not least thanks to the wine. Even better is the subsequent North Sea cod with Jerusalem artichoke purée. Delectably moist and perfectly fried with an attractive golden colour, the cod is served with a remarkable sauce of mussels and smoked butter. The dish is a bull’s-eye with its nutty and smoked notes. Unfortunately, a Tuscan vermentino proves weak in aroma and acidity, making it overly round and heavy for this pairing. The precise and sharp performance from the chef continues in the form of free-range chicken from Rokkedahl with celeriac purée and kale. Rarely have we tasted such delicious and moist breast meat. The intense poultry flavour is complemented by a nice bitterness from the kale while the brilliant brown butter sauce with hazelnuts is so perfectly salty, acidic and delicious that we manhandle the sauce cup in the hunt for every last drop. Supper club or not, Castenskiold’s bistro cuisine is excellent from end to end.
We are welcomed by the sight of a wavering swallow-tailed flag on a background of clear blue skies as we arrive at the old yellow inn in the woods. The setting is beautiful, both inside the inn and at the outdoor tables; a peaceful, old-fashioned mood is palpable throughout the establishment. The style of the cuisine is in no way archaic, however. The chefs understand how to spice up the good local fare, abiding by the virtue of always using the freshest available ingredients – which also explains why the menu varies from day to day. We choose “the whole shebang”, taking us through all of the lunch menu’s eight dishes. A couple of delicious herring servings are followed by an exceptional cut of well-smoked Baltic Sea salmon with grated Havgus cheese, cauliflower and lemon, topped with a creamy clam sauce: a refreshingly simple and well-composed dish where acidity, smoke and the sauce’s richness work impeccably together. The unusually succulent and flavourful corn-fed cockerel with onion and ramson in several variations is an absolute pleasure and, in fact, even better than the otherwise excellent lamb that follows. Our waiter is at first discreet and low-key, but opens up as the meal progresses and we come to greatly appreciate his warm and enthusiastic style. The dessert is a little masterpiece: rhubarb compote with small pieces of baked chocolate, oat crumble and a thick yet airy sauce anglaise topped with wood sorrel. The drops of mint oil on the plate perfect the balance of the dish. The dessert wine from Rhône, Pipi d’Ange (angel pee!), a blend sauvignon blanc, muscat and viognier is an excellent match. A meal in the woods at Christianshøjkroen is always a wonderful respite from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
Jonathan Berntsen has a style all his own in the upper echelons of gastronomy, manifest in everything from the bird-studded wallpaper to alternative interpretations of classic dishes that buck the modern trend and pursue sweetness and richness over acidity and umami. Thanks to Berntsen’s ingenious craftsmanship and uncompromising professionalism, our meal is a memorable and refreshing contrast to the prevailing Nordic winds. The service adheres to all of the classic virtues. An army of tuxedoed waiters and chefs appears with every dish, providing thorough explanations of the wine pairings and their insightful balancing of flavours. However, the alcohol content of the evening’s wines seems somewhat extreme given the refined menu. Sherry, limoncello and Pineau des Charentes in the same menu is a bit over the top, especially when we are also treated to an excellent 2002 Wintzenheim gewurztraminer from Zind-Humbrecht in Alsace, whose age and golden colour practically require a knife and fork. The cuisine, on the other hand, combines assertive sweetness and playfulness, weaving tales of the culinary traditions of Denmark’s historic bourgeoisie, such as the clever reinterpretation of the Danish classic, foreloren skildpadde (“mock-turtle soup”), traditionally a pork and fish ragout served with boiled eggs. This dish features four precise small elements in a veal broth with “turtle flavour”: corned veal tongue with foie gras, a fried fish ball, a marbled quail egg and a crisp and hearty croquette with lamb’s brain. Berntsen cannot resist playing with form and he loves technical challenges, like when he serves razor clams with a good spoonful of Oscietra caviar under a net of crispy thin stripes of pressed, dried and sweetened caviar. Despite the almost malty taste of the caviar net, the dish is fresh and invigorating. The kitchen’s experiments include combinations of veal tail and smoked lardo as the filling in a squid dressed in olives, with a side of black bean cassoulet, the tentacles of the squid and a crisp wheat chip blackened with squid ink. Your attention is required in order to understand and interpret the dishes, but the reward is a one-of-a-kind experience you’ll not soon forget. The desserts further underpin the chef’s approach, with a white and airy intro of lime, banana and yoghurt, followed by a powerful finale of re-interpreted Crêpe Suzette, which could have been fresher and more acidic. But Berntsen has his characteristic style and he upholds it with an elegance that proves how, despite differences in taste, genius is something we can all agree on.
Now that the entrepreneurial academy and its notoriously zany students in this courtyard on Mejlgade have relocated, things here are not quite as unconventional, but they remain highly creative. Restaurant Domestic provides the entertainment with ambitious cuisine focused on local ingredients, fermentation and pickling, combined with attentive yet discreet service. With an aesthetic sense of the beautiful rustic surroundings, the interior is well appointed as a cosy and distinctive restaurant. However, the overall mood is somewhat unsettled by the boom box in a corner of the restaurant blasting out anachronistic 80s music. We begin with eight different snacks, alternating tactfully between the very fresh, salty and intensely umami-rich. Standing out as small masterpieces are a croustade with potato cream and salted cod roe, and a crisp slice of Jerusalem artichoke with pickled gherkin, while the dried lamb proves overly insistent and strong in flavour. The waiter excuses the next dish in advance as one that some people love and others hate. And, indeed, the attempt to deliver a rethought fried egg with rutabaga, egg yolk, lardo and miso sauce feels like an idea that’s still in the works. The dish is undersalted, the poached egg yolk seems sluggish and dry, and the ingredients just don’t blend well together. On the other hand, however, the sherry pairing is an ingenious and daring choice. The ensuing dish is, however, fully complete in conception and execution: roasted beef rump with shank confit, pickled beetroot, elderflower capers, dried rosehip and rhubarb slices. It’s aesthetically composed, well prepared and the flavours are full throttle. In our glasses, Z rouge 2014 is a brilliant partner with its body and succulent bite. The meal ends like a dream with a kombucha-poached pear, thyme caramel sauce, ice cream and a ton of small meringues, rounding off a delightful evening in the good company of the people behind Domestic.
Past and present meet most deliciously at Dragholm Slot, the over 800-year-old castle which for the past nine years has housed Claus Henriksen’s experimental kitchen. Henriksen traverses the surrounding forests, fields, meadows and beaches in search of ingredients, collecting herbs, roots and berries for the restaurant’s hyper-local, seasonal and personal cuisine. Humble ingredients are often allowed to play a starring role here. Take, for example, the assortment of snacks, which includes a piece of dried “parsnip bark” with the deep and sweet taste of a cigar box, joined by small dots of fresh goat’s cheese; or the folded pancake of nutty celeriac covered with an equally nutty layer of Havgus cheese and a drizzling of pine oil; or the decidedly intense cup of mushroom bullion, slurped through a spoon of smoked whipped cream. In the castle cellar we enjoy a peaceful fire around an open hearth, sitting in the comfort of stylish Wegner chairs. The lime-plastered castle walls absorb every sound, so that even when this restaurant is at full capacity, you can still take part in pleasant conversation. The menu starts with cabbage confit in perfectly straight, layered rows with Norwegian scallops, topped with the salty sea flavour of clam juice. Pickled elderflower buds hold the sweetness and richness in check, paired beautifully with a glass of local white wine from Odsherred made with solaris grapes, whose bold aroma of elder bolsters the exquisite acidity of the dish. A thin layer of sliced, baked “egg yolk” potatoes (a Danish variety of small, round and very yellow potatoes) are topped at the table with a smoked butter sauce and caviar; the smoke and potato flavours compliment one another exquisitely. Claus Henriksen makes vegetables shine in a way that makes you forget all about meat-based proteins. We are blown away by the main course, composed of nothing but onions prepared in myriad ways. A layer of “onion leather” made of browned onions covers approximately 100 tiny pearl onions in a bold glaze, which of course is garnished by the season’s first ramsons: it’s a harmony of sweetness and acidity and incredibly delicious. The pure fruit and fresh notes of an unoaked frappato from Sicily cut nicely through the dish. There is also room for some meat, and it’s naturally a cut that is often overlooked and bereft of praise. Braised veal tongue is rolled in a herby veal mince to form sausages and served with croutons fried to a crisp in tallow. The intense flavours are brought together by chicken liver with cognac and a thick, reduced veal jus. The dishes are accompanied by natural wines, matched skilfully by sommelier Peter Fagerland throughout the evening. A more pleasant countenance than Fagerland would be hard to imagine; his calm and comfortable manner enhances the overall experience. In short, Dragsholm Slot rises up as one of the nation’s brightest beacons of gastronomy.
Owner, sommelier and chef Damiano Alberti hails from Piedmont and makes simple Northern Italian food at Enomania, which since our last visit has doubled in size to also include a wine shop. The menu changes on a daily basis and you can order the full menu or à la carte in large or small portions. This is a flexible establishment with a keen understanding of guests’ individual needs. We start with grissini and luscious focaccia served with a grassy olive oil and assorted Italian charcuterie. Our friendly waiter pours hay-yellow greco di tufo from Campania to accompany the risotto with white asparagus and a cut of steamed cod. The risotto is simply perfect in its creaminess - neither too thick nor too thin. The grains of rice are al dente and there’s a ton of asparagus flavour – it doesn’t seem heavy in the slightest. In fact, this light starter only piques our appetite for more. We practically lick our plates clean. Homemade filled pasta – cappelletti – with cockerel mince and purée and crisps of Jerusalem artichoke is a pleasure to eat. The pasta has a good bite and the light mince benefits from the staunch smoked umami of the Jerusalem artichokes and the dark chicken broth in the bottom of the bowl. New peas add a fresh touch and we drink a sublime 2012 Barolo from Burlotto Cannubi. Tonight's wine pairings are well composed and a good value, but you can also choose to run amok in Enomania’s renowned wine cellar, which sports superb wines – especially from the Piedmont, Tuscany and Burgundy – featuring top winemakers such as Méo-Camuzet, Armand Rousseau and Gaja, in addition to other well-chosen and more affordable wines. If life on Earth were coming to an end, we would spend our last days in Enomania’s wine cellar.
“Good evening, signori,” says our waiter, and thus begins our evening. Era Ora is the consummate fine Italian restaurant and the service is sublime: attentive, discreet and confident. Since the turn of the millennium, Chef Antonio di Criscio has carried the torch for Denmark’s most iconic Italian food. Being an Italian gourmet chef is an often thankless task, as the simple fare is difficult to improve upon. Accordingly, a number of dishes on the menu tend towards innovations that work better in theory than in practice. Why, for example, should we eat faux olives when their
Texturas-produced skins turn to crunchy sand in our mouths? The experience is equally off-putting when sturgeon fillet is served on such a hot stone that the fish becomes overcooked before the waiter finishes explaining the dish. However, when the kitchen embraces the characteristically Italian fanatic devotion to high quality ingredients, the results are outstanding. Raw Sicilian shrimp melt like butter on the palate, evoking a sweet nuttiness that perfectly accompanies the flavours of artichoke and mandarin, and droplets of shrimp bisque and parsley-coriander oil. The firm and creamy tartare of Fassone veal and hazelnuts – both from Piedmont – and a tart serving of dried tomato and pickled daikon further exemplify how the kitchen brings ingredients to the forefront with good balance and a delicate, clean taste. Era Ora won last year’s White Guide award for Wine Experience of the Year, and the wine here is still exceptional. This is largely due to the unconventional cellar and the serving method where all glasses are primed with wine to get rid of any off aromas before they are used. Our sommelier has a flair for pairing food and wine in combinations that accentuate both elements. The wine menu is largely composed of glasses from small producers outside of the usual appellations, making a visit to Era Ora an education in Italian wines. For example, the tartare is served with a 2010 Balconi Rossi from the small producer, Le Vigne di San Pietro. The wine has a refreshing acidity, delicate tannins and a cherry fruitiness, dispelling any notion that the only thing to come out of Veneto is pompous amarone. And, of course, the wine goes perfectly with the elegant dish. The service, wine handling and decor at Era Ora are top-class. The food largely keeps pace, but a little too often we find ourselves longing for greater focus on the ingredients and less show.
The iconic hunter’s chairs are no longer to be found in front of the fireplace in the inn’s main hall – the first thing to catch your eye when entering Southern Funen’s Falsled Kro. The chairs were destroyed in connection with a serious burglary at the inn in late 2016. Nonetheless, a peaceful calm quickly falls upon us as we take our places in front of the fireplace on new Børge Mogensen chairs, armed with a glass of champagne and the season’s first lumpfish roe. The meal itself takes place at a large table with thick white tablecloths as the warmth of the open hearth radiates throughout the inn, and where waiters donned in sleeve garters kindly and discreetly serve us. Time stands still here – in a good way. Falsled Kro is old-school luxury, as are the plates sent out of the open kitchen by Chef Per Hallundbæk. A wood-roasted onion peel with smoked sweetness conceals razor clams and sea snails below, in a rich and creamy clam sauce. Every bite is absolutely delicious. A cut of steamed cod – wonderfully firm in structure – is served with fried kohlrabi leaves and a crisp roll of raw kohlrabi with oysters that provides full and salty minerality with an intense watercress sauce to tie the dish together. The generous body and rich quince aroma of a viogner from Château de Beaucastel proves a nice pairing with the oysters – an often difficult feat. Fried duck hearts with a mountain of highly aromatic black winter truffles, morel cream and 36-month Comté provide umami with small acidic explosions of pickled golden beets. The sommelier’s only misstep here is a rather lukewarm blaufränkisch. Our disappointment dissipates as a “pigeon chop” of perfectly pink roasted breast and thigh of pigeon, forged together with chicken mince and caul fat, arrives at our table. The chop is an aesthetic work of genius that seduces the eye with its size and brown-glazed presentation. The condensed meat flavour is accompanied wholeheartedly by porcino mushrooms and an intense demi-glace seasoned with warm Christmas spices. The rich flavours are joined with the bitterness of red cabbage and much-needed acidity from quince, pickled mustard seeds and green grapes, while a Spanish tempranillo served at the proper temperature matches the dish with spicy oaked intensity and dark berries. The dish powerfully demonstrates that this agrarian Southern Funen kitchen is still running like a well-oiled machine. The inn’s garden supplies year-round produce to the kitchen, which is keen to pickle and preserve for the winter months. When the inn’s legendary cheese cart rolls up to our table, we take the last few steps up to heaven. Our waiter knows the story behind each of the 35 well-ripened cheeses, all at the right temperature and the majority are French and unpasteurised. We are welcome to taste them all, he adds. Three glasses of wine for the challenging cheese board prove a boisterous but prudent choice. Among these is a sancerre whose grassy aroma and crisp acidity make it a perfect companion with the fresh goat’s cheese. Coffee and exquisite homemade chocolates by the fire round off a nearly perfect experience. Falsled Kro is by all means worth a trip.
On a long stretch of Vesterbrogade where fine dining bastions are few and far between, a grey bunker-like building stands proud, having housed a gastronomic forerunner of Copenhagen’s restaurant scene for more than a decade. The team behind formel B (formula B) can boast of having endowed the city centre with both its light-hearted little sister Uformel (Informal) and the king of smørrebrød restaurants, Restaurant Palægade, not to mention Restaurant Sletten in Humblebæk with its stunning sea views. As soon as you open the heavy door, you get the sense of having entered into a secret lodge where the butter is nobly embossed with a B and the international brotherhood of guests is privy to fact that formel B delivers to the fullest every time. We are greeted with a warm and professional reception, and the keen team of waiters quickly establishes a good rapport with their guests. The sommelier’s proud presentation of recommendations and the fixed menu pairings are akin to exploring the big questions of life with a trusted older family member. He exudes impressive authority despite his young age. Leave the decisions to him or have a deeper, exploratory chat with him about the menu and the cellar’s many other options in terms of both conventional and natural wines, with an emphasis on the latter. A jazzy atmosphere prevails in this tightly designed restaurant where the warm light of the kitchen shines through the glass window separating the din and bustle from the diners’ cosy surroundings in one section of the restaurant. The tables are placed so that you can sit in peace and enjoy the reverent parade of delights, from a Danish squid encircled by pickled onions and smoked foam to a rich dill emulsion. The remarkable take on surf and turf is certainly one of formel B’s signature dishes: a crisp yet succulent fried turbot with braised veal tail in a deep green parsley sauce. We recall this dish from our first visit in 2006, and it completely swept us off our feet back then, too. This time it is wonderfully paired with a mild and lightly spiced gamay. A dark, refreshing syrah escorts corned beef brisket, a crisp toast with morel pâté, thin wafers of celeriac and a glaze with such an amazing depth that it shines in tandem with the intense cherry notes of the wine. Formel B is the epitome of excellence in gastronomy and a place we instinctively want to revisit again and again. May it stay that way for decades to come.
On a bitterly cold winter’s evening, one can only dream about the magical summer lunches on these verandas bordering Frederiksberg Gardens, but everything in due time. We are comfortably inside, where the decor is stylish and polite, and where the kitchen delivers a culinary experience that incorporates both sublime classics and Nordic experiments. What remains constant is the competent and extremely friendly service. The menus of three to five courses are based on the à la carte options, but even before we reach the first course, we receive snacks that set the bar impressively high: dried wild mushrooms and potato are formed into paper-thin crisps, fried and served with a cream of pine and juniper berry and powdered with burnt leek – a wonderful palette of crispness and umami from the forest floor. The first course is sharp and classic – a silky-soft celeriac soup with a caramelised scallop and roasted apple. The second course, however, is a confusing vegetable dish with fried carrot. The plate combines carrot purée, truffles, and creamed Høost cheese in wonderful harmony, but the carrot itself, poached and fried in pistachio and walnut, lacks sweetness, and the rustic breading is far too dominant. The main course is a safer bet. Apart from the misplaced cubes of glazed bacon, the beef rump from Skåne with creamy polenta and lightly salted broccoli stalk is purely delicious. There isn’t much room for modern ventures on the classic wine list, but we find a cabernet franc from Loire, Domaine De La Chevalerie, which has a fine balance of acidity and fruit; it keeps us company throughout the meal, all the way to a sweet and sour dessert of white chocolate, coconut macaroon and lime cream.
It isn’t easy to get a table at Frederikshøj. Like everything else about this place, the booking system is out of the ordinary. You can’t just click on a desired date – you actually have to write and request a table. But once that request is granted, a unique experience awaits. Chef Wassim Hallal’s strong personality and creative soul permeate every aspect of Frederikshøj. It’s a place for going all-in, and you’ll drink classic wine in divine pairings that will live on in the annals of your memory. Despite the arrangement of large round tables for two, the immaculately skilled staff create a warmth and comfort that make you feel like you’re sitting in your very own oasis on a gastronomic expedition. A torrent of seven humorous and tasty appetisers arrives with undertones of richness, sweetness, umami and smoke. Among the innovative and playful bites is a bowl of attractive stones, two of which are edible. These are “potatoes in potatoes” with lightly smoked fish and a marbled potato membrane to create the illusion of a stone. You can’t help but smile. Culinary acrobatics with form and texture are one of Wassim Hallal’s trademarks and they continue throughout the meal’s 15 courses. An oyster is not just an oyster, but a crisp flake of dried oysters with an oyster cream and springy salicorn: a wonderful taste of the sea. Another standout among the many original and characteristic dishes is the tuna; the marbled cuts are barely browned on the edges, garnished with parsnip (both creamy and crispy) and topped at the table with a heap of almonds in browned butter. The characteristic umami of the tuna and the flavours from the Maillard reaction in the browning butter combine remarkably with the crunchy texture of the almonds: an amazing interpretation of a classic Barcelona tapa, further elevated to ethereal heights by the smoke and hay notes of a Loire Valley wine, Montlouis-sur-Loire "Les Borderies" from Le Rocher des Violettes. Next is a potpourri of ingenious desserts: a facsimile of a cherry with cherry filling, crumble and sorbet, followed by a chocolate sphere that looks like a ball of yarn filled with passion fruit, finished by “washing the plate” with a convincing copy of a scouring sponge that turns out to be an edible sponge cake with passion fruit “dishwashing soap”, and lastly, an edible soft-boiled egg of sour fruit and white chocolate, and a gold-plated edible chocolate bar. To complete the extravagance, the coffee comes with a petit four cart brandishing small ice cream sticks, filled chocolates and classic French confections – all executed with elite aptitude and featuring a bevy of distinct flavours in each little bite. Thus concludes an original and impressive meal underpinned by exquisite wine pairings featuring classics carefully chosen by the talented sommeliers. All-round, it’s an experience of the highest calibre.
Præstø is often considered to be an unremarkable dot on the outskirts of metropolitan Denmark, but this is where Chef Jonas Mikkelsen creates small gastronomic miracles on par with the nation’s finest restaurants. He has a flair for creating incredibly delicious cuisine with just a few simple ingredients, as exemplified in the highlight of the evening: a slice of hay-baked rutabaga, fried in butter and smoked in a pan with the hay. The soft, sweet rutabaga is covered by a layer of crunchy black sesame seeds and a sauce of warm crème fraîche, salted to the max. This exceptional dish is soft and crisp, sweet, acidic, and smoky-rich, all at once. It unequivocally deserves signature status at this establishment, where they are driven by seasonal awareness and where even the likes of rutabaga and celeriac can be kings for an evening. We too feel like royalty, sitting in the sunroom’s comfortable chairs at large tables clad with stiff white tablecloths. The deliberately antique interior is a fun wormhole through time, but the room is a bit large for the few tables and the acoustics are poor. We have the feeling that other guests can eavesdrop on our conversation if we raise our voices even the slightest. However, nearly every dish is perfectly balanced. The snacks alone offer a deft array of sublime flavours. For example, the luxury take on sour cream and onion crisps, here with dill and vinegar dust and a cream of smoked witch flounder. The intensity of a small cup of mushroom broth with fermented celeriac juice brings literal tears of joy. The kitchen masters both the subdued and the elegant with preparations built on classic French cuisine. A prime example is the perfectly steamed lemon sole with burnt Tuscan kale and a wonderful sauce nage with a meticulous balance of buttery richness and acidity, held in the tight corset of a firm, mineral white from Languedoc. Other times, the ingredients speak for themselves. A large langoustine tail is served naked and then bathed in pine oil, browned butter and reduced cream. The richness and sweetness are distinctly underpinned by a skin-fermented natural chenin blanc from South Africa. The unconventional wines are well chosen and have at least one leg in the world of natural wines, though they are not presented as such. Instead, the waiter provides an insightful and engaging account of their pairing with the dishes. The desserts fall fully in the throes of Nordic traditions. An airy walnut mousse is freshened up with a French sorrel granité and tiny cubes of green apple and celery. Such desserts often end up as an exercise in sugar-free asceticism, but in the hands of Mikkelsen it proves a happy marriage of the sweet, rich and fresh. A creamy celeriac ice cream with caramel and layers of caramelised chicken skin and mushroom dust is a rich and earthy autumn greeting, paired nicely with a caramelly dessert wine from Friuli made from dried grapes. Hotel Frederiksminde has emphatically made Præstø one of the gastronomic shining lights of provincial Denmark.
Since Chef Tommy Friis and his wife Birgitte took over Fru Larsen in 2012, they have maintained a very high culinary level. Don’t be fooled by the traditional and stuffy-but-cosy décor of the dining room, this kitchen elegantly combines equal parts classic techniques and modern experimentation ensuring that a meal here is never boring. A miniature bowl of delectable and comforting bacon broth with an edible wrap filled with potato and lovage is a great start, and the tartare of dry-aged beef with croutons and capers is both the perfect temperature and deeply flavourful. The first dish, halibut, is served raw and still (a bit overly) frozen atop an oyster cream, cucumber and white asparagus. An herb jus is sprayed over the dish, adding colour along with herbaceous notes that blend subtly with the aptly paired albarino from Rias Baixas. A salt-baked slice of white cabbage is the base of the next serving. The cabbage, which still retains some bite, is doused in a rich, lemony beurre blanc and topped with dried and fresh Romø shrimps and crispy chicken skin. The wines are well paired throughout the menu, although one could argue that slightly more daring choices would have lifted this creative kitchen’s flavours even higher. Then again, it’s hard to whine too much when the earthy, iron notes of a perfectly cooked pigeon breast mingle with the classy Bourgogne from Liger-Belair. Venison from red deer comes wrapped in a thin mushroom gel “package”. It’s at the centre of a dish that contains, according to the menu, a “sauce mysterie” whose spices keep us guessing. We settle for “gingerbread” to describe the warm, Christmassy flavours that suit the sweetness of the sauce, which is a tad too sweet for the Rosso di Montalcino, but the combo pulls off the pairing thanks to the venison’s wild, gamey aromas. A solid piece of advice at Fru Larsen is to save some space for dessert (or a lot of space if you also plan to indulge in the cheese selection). The spectacular ending of the meal comes in as a perfect sphere that we knock open with our spoons. It falls apart like an eggshell revealing a kefir ice cream and shavings of white chocolate with hempseeds and pumpkinseeds. Together with tangy sea buckthorn and earthy chamomile dust, the combination is a wonder of balance, and it’s utterly delicious.
Fusion strives to create an international urban atmosphere, with lounge music in the sound system, high-tech decor and the added bonus of a view of the fjord. The concept succeeds by combining inspiring cuisine with adept service. The long wine list includes renowned makers and regions, but could use a bit of an update in terms of semi-sweet wines that go well with Asian flavours. We are served a soft colossal scallop, fried perfectly crisp on one side, with small broccoli shavings marinated in lime and miso, a mild umami bomb with a liquoricy tarragon oil that could have made more of an impact. Next is a fried, juicy turbot with a crisp crust topped with a poignant sauce of soy sauce, ginger and buttery depth. The plate also contains salsify in three versions – fried slices, crisp chips and a caramel-like purée and a garnish of mild watercress, fennel and nasturtium, adding a discreet touch of liquorice. With the light dishes we drink Louis Roederer Brut Premier. Our server suggests that its depth can stand up to the sweetness, acidity and umami – and he’s right. A succulent roasted thigh of quail with spiced mince and a sauce of chicken stock, blackcurrants and hoisin is a romantic symphony. Yet the highlight comes with the fried sweetbreads with coriander oil and deep base note of ponzu, served with a powerful and creamy potato purée and mighty truffle foam. A sprinkling of kimchi-spiced sesame seeds adds a spicy chilli kick. The desserts are mostly light and fresh. Fusion combines Asian and Nordic cuisine with bravado.
“A gourmet country kitchen” reads the introduction to Søren Jakobsen and Villiam Jørgensen’s restaurant in Aarhus. The produce featured in the kitchen’s exquisitely crafted cuisine is thoroughly seasonal, including appearances by apple, beetroot, and parsley root and the evening is a parade of beautifully arranged works of art. The menu is composed as a series of snacks. Some are classics, such as a cone filled with smoked cheese and Kalix bleak roe, while the oyster is right on target with a fresh foam of citrus confit and bonito butter. The staff skilfully and precisely navigate through the vocabulary associated with the orchestrated meal, and at times they draw on help from the kitchen. Gastromé is strongest in its seafood and vegetable dishes, while their pot bread is irresistibly alluring alongside a browned butter whipped with crispy bits of chicken skin. Lobster consommé with fresh lobster-filled pasta, poached quail egg and an attractive green lace of powdered herbs is one of the evening’s highlights, served with a balanced 2014 Jura wine, L'Etoile from Domaine Montbourgeau, whose sherry-like oxidised taste is an adroit pairing with the bittersweet lobster. The precisely fried zander is nicely composed with parsley root, fennel, cress and a foam of bakskuld (salted and smoked witch flounder). But the richness, salt and smoke of this excellent local speciality from Fanø lacks acidity, a deficiency that the fresh sauvignon blanc from Philippe Gilbert fails to rectify. The meat dishes pay homage to off cuts, but the pork cheeks are a tad dry in combination with boiled barley grains, mustard and truffle, ultimately comprising too many flavours at once. The dry-aged beef with beetroot in a variety of textures suffers from the same degree of hyperbole. The desserts offer a respite with the return to lighter fare full of sweetness and acidity: passion fruit, apple, pear, lemon, yoghurt and tarragon. In total, the meal is an array of excellent servings, ambition and daring from the kitchen. Though at times the dishes collapse under the weight of myriad flavours, the aesthetic presentation is consistently exceptional.
At times we must rethink our conventional notions of what constitutes a top-class dining experience. Geist indisputably serves food at a high gastronomic level, but also challenges common doctrines. As we sit in the restaurant’s tightly-packed bar surrounding the open kitchen watching the chefs fast at work, and Michael Jackson’s “Rock With You” blasts out of the speakers, the first in array of culinary jewels arrives. Chef Bo Bech’s aesthetic prowess leaves nothing to be desired, and his dishes are edgy in both appearance and taste. The signature dish of delicately stacked pieces of fully ripened avocado, brushed with almond oil and topped with caviar, looks and tastes amazing. The oil brings together the almond notes of the two other elements in pure, seductive elegance – a true masterpiece. Bech is not shy when it comes to combining textures, as evidenced by a serving of smooth, creamy potato purée and Kalix bleak roe. The two elements alone comprise the dish, which may initially seem banal but proves to be courageous and right-on, as the flavour-absorbing mashed potatoes coax forth the depth of the salty fish eggs. The kitchen also masters the art of contrasts. Once again, the eye is provoked by the poached Gillardeau oysters, resting like the Princess and the Pea atop a high bed of baby romaine leaves. Yet there are no peas between the leaves, only oyster cream with the intense flavour of the shelled crustacean, combined with the complex saltiness of the airy whey butter on top. Oysters, lettuce and whey – so simple and yet incredibly delicious. There are some miscues. A large pile of onion skins is unappetising because of the coarse texture and overt raw onion flavour that cuts through the otherwise excellent dressing of tamari, lime, and sesame seeds. On the other hand, the dessert is perfectly tuned with a chewy caramel, caramel cream and flakes of soy meringue seasoned with wasabi. The spicy root gives just the kick needed to escort the caramel instead of derailing it. Paired with a glass of oxidised dessert wine from the Jura winemaker Domaine de Cavarodes, which also plays on the caramel notes, we couldn’t possibly ask for anything more. While the wait staff are pleasant and friendly, their knowledge of the food and wine is quite limited, so oenophiles are left to their own devices. But the bartenders, sharply dressed in white tuxedo jackets, are eminently knowledgeable about their cocktails – both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. The mocktail with lemon and liquorice root syrup is a stroke of genius, where the liquorice adds depth without dominating the spectrum of flavours. If you enjoy dining in bustling but relaxing surroundings without compromising on culinary quality or complexity, then Geist is among Copenhagen’s best bets.
It takes a special disposition to continuously improve something year after year that, in eyes of most people, is already perfect. Geranium’s Chef Rasmus Kofoed is just such a person, as evidenced in the three sparkling Bocuse d’Or statues adorning the restaurant’s lounge. The menu testifies to this, too, with classics that have been further honed and new dishes that are refined to the smallest detail. Stylistically speaking, the interior of Geranium provides a comfortable setting for a meal where guests can enjoy every aspect of the dining experience, overseen by restaurant manager and all-encompassing host Søren Ledet. The thick tablecloths stretch down to the squeak-free floor, while the comfortably upholstered Danish design chairs offer views of either the open kitchen or the treetops of adjacent Fælledparken, Copenhagen’s largest city park. The service does not leave anything to chance, as waiters hover around the tables like elegant dancers to the sounds of classical music. The mere serving of a gin and tonic is a minor work of art involving an ice cube mould, Danish gin from Klelund, homemade sea buckthorn juice and a thorough explanation from the talented Norwegian sommelier. Lobster in fermented milk with carrot and sea buckthorn is a smooth and gentle start. The complexity and sheer deliciousness of tomato water with ham fat and aromatic herbs proves that simple ingredients can also push the culinary altimeter to uncharted heights. The dish called “Razor clams” is actually composed of thin wheat shells filled with lumpfish roe and sour cream; a crisp and creamy mouthful. The charred potato – served under a glass dome filled with smoke – is a fun déjà vu harking back to childhood camping trips. Trout masquerading as green “stones” covered with dill gelée rounds out the parade of signature snacks, all of which are just a touch sharper and on point than the last time we dined here. The autolytic glass of 2009 blanc de blancs champagne from Larmandier-Bernier proves a good pairing with the luscious snacks. Its biodynamic roots and clean style are emblematic of the wine menu, which features carefully crafted wines, but without the unconventional bent so common in the world of natural wines. The pairings are virtuosic, such as a 2015 alvarinho from Anselmo Mendes in Vinho Verde, whose tight acidity and fruitiness is in perfect tandem with Kofoed’s artistic mosaic of hake rolled in parsley ash. The fish is served like a jigsaw puzzle with Carelian caviar and topped with a sauce split with parsley oil. The dish caters to the eye as much as the palate. The oil is made from parsley stems and the dish has a delicious crunch from the fish’s scales. The no-waste approach recurs in subsequent dishes, including a serving of perfectly fried scallop with a silky thin tuile of roe – the rest of the roe is used in the sauce. This is just one of the many gems preceding the main course, a sweet and delicate Jerusalem artichoke with herbs and a sauce made from duck feet. It is a pleasant surprise to be served an entire menu without a meat-centric dish, yet that still has such intense flavour from beginning to end. It exudes elegance and acumen. After four deserts and a total of 15 courses we retire to the lounge for rum, petits fours and one more show in the form of hand-brewed espresso. At Geranium, Kofoed and Ledet have found an extra gear, and they continue to fine-tune microscopic imperfections that make Geranium sparkle in its richness of detail and dedication.
Paul Cunningham’s wizardry in the kitchen is currently celebrating exorbitant triumphs everywhere one looks. But is Henne Kirkeby’s similarly magical? We arrive at the low-ceilinged and fully booked inn at 12 noon on the dot to take in the kitchen’s exploits by the light of day. We are briskly escorted to the furthest corner of the establishment by a young crew of waiters, who immediately – in an informal but not unprofessional tone – present the day’s six-course lunch menu and the optional cheeses. The premises are characterised by an airy, minimalistic decor with mile-wide leather designer chairs, white walls with artworks in predominantly dark shades and contrasting explosions of colour from the fresh flower bouquets imported from the North Sea terrain just outside the door. It is exquisite and elegant, aided along all the more by the crisp and distinct acoustics: perfect for intimate conversations with your lunch companions. Two fresh starters arrive in the wake of a glass of apricot-aromatic and acidic albariño from the somewhat overlooked Galicia: a crispy open pie with lumpfish, lumpfish roe, chives and crème fraîche, and a small dark rye bread crisp with tartare and quail egg yolk. Unpretentious and heavenly, the kitchen delights in the quality ingredients, with variations in texture and no-nonsense presentations. The direct style insistent on fresh, top-shelf ingredients permeates the meal, including the next maritime dish: Cod, beurre blanc, pointed cabbage and a handful of Danish shrimp. Rustic and, once again, unpretentious. The citrus of the beurre blanc, the firm bite of the shrimp and the perfectly prepared cod (which falls into clear flakes) join in beautiful sensory symbiosis. The wines are kindly available in half glasses so that you can drive home, but if you aren’t getting behind the wheel and choose to drink away, your glass will be attended to expertly by your skilled waiter. Unfortunately, an oaked 2012 riesling from Trimbach in the dry Alsace style can just barely go toe to toe with a fat-intensive, rich serving of terrine of pork, foie gras, red onion compote, watercress and grilled, oil-drenched bread. Here we would like to see the wine offer a palate-cleansing balance to the heavy and somewhat oversized dish. The next dish is also rich and delicious, the pub classic fish and chips in a tear-jerking version with triple-cooked chips and all the trimmings. The acidic richness is perfectly balanced, not least thanks to a vinegary tartar sauce and a refreshingly sturdy Provencial rosé, which impresses not with its complexity, but rather its hyperbolic drinkability. The dish – and indeed the meal in its entirety – is informal and wonderful in the abode of the ever-vivacious Paul Cunningham.
There are few things that can beat the atmosphere of an outdoor restaurant along the docks of Copenhagen’s Nyhavn on a sunny spring day. Add to this a wonderful meal at a reasonable price, and you’ve got pure bliss. We are welcomed by a young woman who also is our server for the day. She quickly proves to be highly knowledgeable about both food and wine. The first impression to arrive from the kitchen is a crisp bread with the consistency of puff pastry, baked with buttermilk and whole sage leaves, adding a strong, herby flavour balanced by the accompanying homemade butter with salty grains. For a very reasonable price, we order a serving of 30 grams of sustainable baerii caviar served on blinis. The large, bright fish eggs reveal elegant nut and umami notes, balanced by the slightly acidic organic crème fraîche and walnut. Another sublime dish is fresh green asparagus, sweet and sour pickled white asparagus sprinkled with leek ash and an oyster emulsion that together form a symphony of sea and spring flavours, adeptly matched by a huge-bodied 2013 chardonnay from Rustenberg in South Africa that combines great thickness with elegant acidic structure. Grilled leek with whole, lightly grilled Danish squid – akin to sushi in bite and pure fish flavour – a lightly smoked bacon sauce and a black, faintly sweet cream of fermented garlic, all garnished with fresh ramson leaves, is aesthetically pleasing and a light yet generous taste experience. A crisp grilled turbot is delicate, white, firm and juicy, served with onion rings filled with foam of whipped Vesterhavsost cheese and dill oil. A half lobster with lemon, dill and mayonnaise – the eponymous restaurant’s muse (hummer is the Danish word for lobster) – is delicious but difficult to eat without making a mess. The meat is perfectly prepared, releasing fresh shellfish sweetness and mineral notes of the sea.
An inviting atmosphere reigns at Hærværk (Danish for “vandalism”), where the smiling waiters provide impeccable hospitality from the start. There is always time for an informed talk about food and wine, presented without a hitch. And speaking of wine: Hærværk is renowned as a standard-bearer for natural wines, though the establishment has loosened up a bit and toned down the fundamentalism with a list that now features other interesting and less acidic combinations. This evolution has only raised the bar for the restaurant and its cuisine. We start with a round of snacks: exquisitely delicate profiteroles with pickled asparagus, celeriac ravioli and fried horseradish, superbly paired with a wonderfully complex Danish cider from Kvist og Vitus. Next up on the bill is cured halibut on white cabbage marinated in bladderwrack with black sesame and a Belgian waffle with a generous heap of dill. Perfect in technique and taste, the crisp and soft textures go beautifully hand in hand with the fresh flavours and the rich waffle. Unfortunately, the somewhat bland colombard grape behind Andiran's Vain de Rû from Gascony can't live up to the dish. The highlight of the evening, in all its simplicity, is a piece of fried celeriac in breadcrumbs with a sauce of buttermilk whey and sheep’s cheese. It’s unsurprisingly delectable, as celeriac and buttermilk are a perfect match. Next is a heavenly combination of fried pasta, cabbage and shredded beef heart with a sauce blanquette, which impresses and seduces, although the appurtenant wine is on the fresh and overly sweet side for the dish. The intense main course is a well-prepared cut from a leg of venison with dukkah, sweet Jerusalem artichokes and a garlic confit sauce, perfectly paired with the alluring succulence of grenache, syrah and merlot in a 2015 Les Grelots from Sylvain Bock. The fact that this excellent but rather ordinary dish could be considered the evening’s weakest serving says a lot about the veritable showcase of culinary aptitude we are treated to this evening. The cheese plate once again sweeps us off our feet as we are served a sweet slice of butter-fried beetroot bread and 24-month Comté with crème fraîche. It’s nothing short of brilliant with a robust Jura wine that turns velvety smooth with the cheese. We round off the evening nicely with crepes with cardamom ice cream, pickled cherries and salted caramel sauce: a delicious composition. At Hærværk, the perfect craftsmanship of the innovative and playful kitchen is followed every step of the way by attentiveness and professionalism on the floor. It’s a consummate experience that offers genuine surprises and suspenseful curiosity about each subsequent dish.
An izakaya is the Japanese version of a gastropub, originally a haven for Japanese businesspeople, with high standards for food and drink. The team behind Jah Izakaya set out to create such a place in Vesterbro with a minimalistically appointed restaurant and open kitchen bar. Everything is steeped in precision and features the meticulous seasoning that has made Japanese cuisine so famous. You choose a variety of dishes to share with the others at your table. It is all very informal and the prices are affordable. The sashimi features the highest quality Faroese salmon, tender tuna and a Danish octopus that also makes a cameo in an ika ichiyaboshi – an unforgettable serving of slightly dried octopus with spicy mayo. Rarely have the sweetness and richness of an octopus come through so clearly. Each of the eight dishes we order is accompanied by a new dip – every one with its own personality. The wasabi here has notes of spiced tea and herbs. Each sauce specifically matches a dish, such as an ingenious yuzu soy sauce with the mouth-watering gyukatsu – fillet steak with a thin breading that is fried so the meat is red and the breading crisp. On the whole, the breading at Jah Izakaya is in a league of its own. The day’s special, avocado in a light tempura, is airy and perfectly crisp. Even the tofu, lightly fried then immersed in a warm dashi bouillon, packs impressive flavour. Beverages range from sake, whisky and Japanese shochu brandy, to beer, kombucha and natural wine. We pair with kombucha and méthode traditionnelle bubbles from Domain Bellaurd in Savoy whose minerality and nutty character fit well with the umami-dominated meal.
Restaurant Jordnær (which means “down-to-earth” in Danish) is housed in the historic, 350-year-old Gentofte Hotel, where the duo of Chef Eric Kragh Vildgaard and Restaurant Manager Tina Kragh Vildgaard bring forth new tones rooted in French traditions and Danish ingredients. The atmosphere is warm in the modernised “inn” with attractive plank floors, Nordic designer furniture and the impressive beam ceiling, while the service is professional and attentive. Eric knows what he wants and no compromise is accepted with ingredients, as evidenced by our first snack, brilliant in all its simplicity: Osietra caviar filled in a cylinder of carved cucumber with a lightly acidic cream in the bottom. The bittersweet cucumber plays up to the caviar’s elegant nut notes followed by deep umami, while the acidic interplay with the light cream at the bottom ties it all together into a delicious mouthful. This is followed by an immaculately fresh Gillardeau oyster with kohlrabi spheres, freshly harvested beach plants and horseradish to give it all a little punch. The snacks conclude with creamy crab on an “æbleskive” base (traditional Danish doughnut-like cake) that could have been a bit more interesting. A champagne from Robert Barbichon with fresh bread notes and wonderful acidity pairs nicely with the snacks and their recurrent taste of the sea. The first starter, an alluring composition of marinated raw langoustine with green strawberries, oysters and granité, is intense and mineral, while the acidity of the granité and the young riesling provide elegant and fresh balance – a dream for sushi lovers. The next starter is crisp and purely delightful with its touches of sea and nuttiness: white asparagus and fresh foam with a hint of acidity, watercress and Baerii caviar. The wine from Veneto made from the garganega grape is a bit opulent with this dish. A starter with zander wrapped in pointed cabbage in a green jus with ramson fills the palate with the goodness of succulent mild fish, the bit of cabbage and light spices bound together by the ramsons. The light fruitiness of the wine, made with a blend of varieties including spätburgunder, is a sublime vinous pairing on the full-bodied side. The main dish of perfectly roasted pink lamb, green asparagus, morel and truffle rises above traditional as Vildgaard spoons an incredibly elegant sauce over the lamb. The Barolo from Oberto in Piedmont is a perfect match, given its somewhat tight but sweet-bodied character. The first dessert of almonds, vanilla and rhubarb ice cream operates in the realm of delicate nuances, while the cake bottom could have been a bit lighter. The final dessert of hay-milk ice cream, bolstered by French sorrel and oxalis, and split with a cold pressed rapeseed oil, is immaculately well balanced.
The summer cottage is nestled with an unequivocally impressive front row view, high above the Baltic Sea on Bornholm’s southern coast. The decor is simple and kept in light tones; there are no tablecloths on the tables and the sound system plays subdued soft jazz throughout the evening. The relatively young wait staff are thoroughly professional in a pleasant and relaxed way throughout the 13-course menu. After a handful of small dishes featuring such delights as oysters, cabbage and mussels, the bread arrives as a serving on its own: warm flatbread with fermented corn juice, which is also mixed into the butter. It tastes good, but after a few bites we are ready to move on. We would prefer the more traditional serving, with the bread at our side throughout the meal, so we could also use it to soak up the delicious sauces. We move on from here to a dish with a wide array of elements, including raw scallops resting in a sauce of horseradish with golden beet and hemp, top shoots of Norway spruce, and grated dried roe on top. The flavour notes of the various elements of sea, forest and meadow, as well as their textures, come together in symbiotic unity. The juice menu’s pairing of gooseberries and horseradish both mirrors and complements the dish exquisitely. A slice of pickled and baked pumpkin topped with a sprinkling of Bornholm forest ants –purported to be the most scrumptious in Denmark – and petals from the invasive beach rose is accompanied by a sauce of white asparagus with a nice acidity. It is an incredibly well-balanced and delectable dish, as the pumpkin’s sweetness, the sauce and the acidity of the ants suit one another beautifully. Especially entertaining is when you bite directly into a ant, releasing a powerful explosion of citrusy sourness on the tongue. A skewer with tender lamb neck and folded slices of veal tongue are marinated in a strong BBQ marinade and served with cabbage and an intense jus. The dish is full of deep flavour, but unfortunately doesn’t meet much resistance from the somewhat too light Beaujolais, Côte du Py 2015 from Jean Foillard, which also fails to impress on its own, despite the waiter’s assurance that this is one of the two best vignerons in the appellation. However, the tables are turned by the wine served with the two desserts. Keller’s wonderful auslese, Westhofener Kirchspiel 2015, has a deep body with notes of honey, pear and a touch of limestone, and still has quite a bit of fresh young acidity. Both of the desserts are refreshingly light. First, a long roll of crisp apple with caramel, served in a clear cold soup with the flavours of sweet cicely, buckler leaf sorrel and rhubarb root. This is followed by a compote of diverse berries from the restaurant’s own garden, seasoned with walnut aquavit and homemade sour cream. In both of these dishes, the sweet flavour elements take a backseat to the more acidic, which we appreciate greatly after the myriad preceding dishes. However, sweetness is centre stage in the Auslese, and it is a perfect pairing. Kadeau Bornholm understands how to playfully utilise the island’s fantastic ingredients at an innovative and masterful gastronomic level.
Arriving at building 10B on a cobblestone street, we ring the bell and immediately feel like invited guests. The door opens and we are guided through Kadeau’s heart – the kitchen – and escorted to soft furniture with a cup of warm bouillon. The mirage of a visit with friends would be complete if someone sat down and enjoyed the delicious drink with us, but the chefs in the open kitchen are busy. They are likely chopping and slicing, given that virtually every dish this evening is comprised of countless tiny elements – perhaps too many, in fact, as many of the dishes seem to lack leading roles and links to bring together the diversity of details. Kadeau’s renowned boyish spontaneity seems replaced by a more controlled style, but there remains no doubt that the majestic isle of Bornholm is the common thread. No dish reflects this as clearly as a crisp biscuit filled with a cornucopia of small pickled leaves and flowers, including cypress, chamomile, seaweed, rhubarb, elderflower capers, dried rose hips and morsels of poached mahogany clam. The dish is a delicate, edible business card, a reduction of the fields and sandy beach meadows of Chef Nicolai Nørregaard and Restaurant Manager Magnus Høegh Kofoed’s native island. The owners are not here themselves, but a sharp corps of waiters and chefs adroitly serves us with a relaxed charm. Kadeau has an international vibe; one feels transmogrified into a Kinfolk magazine, sitting in the elegant dining room with its shades of turquoise, wood and gold, and drinking biodynamic wines and sumptuous juices with the menu. The wines stay on the safe side of the modern wine spectrum and the juices are fresh, aromatic and well paired. The best “juice” is a blend of fermented white tea and pickling brine with a lovely aroma. It nicely accompanies a light-hearted dish of lumpfish with tiny pickled bits of Bornholm’s summertime bounty. Pickles are a recurring theme in Nørregaard’s kitchen, but the characteristic acidity underlying Kadeau’s reputation has been turned down a notch. We discover this in the beautiful signature dish with a thousand layers of preserved vegetables: this evening it includes cabbage, beets, salted plums and dashi made of dried trout. It is undoubtedly beautiful, but it tastes a bit bland. On the other hand, the flavours are turned up to full-blast with the skin-fermented vermentino from Italy’s Massa Vecchia that accompanies a dish of langoustine under lavender and shaved walnuts. The slightly bitter and perfumed notes of the orange wine prove a good match for the dish. Like so much else this evening, the langoustine is cut into small pieces, which causes its flavour to drown in the other dominant elements. By now we are longing for something to really chew on. Our wish is granted with a large fillet of aged pork, perfectly prepared with good flavour, that is surprisingly simple and robust compared to the menu’s other dishes. After a handful of desserts, petits fours and aromatic filtered coffee, we step out into the Christianshavn night with the memory of an intellectual Borholmian meal that seems more firmly rooted in the world of art than food.
For more than 20 years, Rikke Brockstedt and her consort Kristian Evensen-Smidt have run Restaurant Karoline Amalie in Virklund near Silkeborg. Although a quarter of a century is a long time to maintain a constant level of excellence, the restaurant is still outstanding. Its dishes express rare precision, reflecting the careful handling of ingredients, and the service staff have a Zenlike attentiveness. The hostess provides a warm welcome and later presents every dish in the elegant dining room, which has just four or five tables in a spacious, exclusive and classic setting with crisply ironed tablecloths, silver candlesticks and rococo chairs. The restaurant is currently operating with one set menu, which you should combine with the superb and exclusively Austrian wine pairings, featuring both established stars and exciting, young up-and-coming producers. Standing out in the first salvo of snacks is a deconstruction of the Danish classic “æbleflæsk” (pork belly in applesauce) – a small bird’s nest of puffed pork rind with a tart apple purée as a counterweight to the lard. This is soon followed by an elegant vignette of scallops, freshly harvested and crunchy fresh Jerusalem artichoke, caviar and buerre blanc. Here, the fresh raw food elements and salty caviar perfectly balance the rich and the smooth textures. The palate-cleansing acidity and character of the wines proves a delight throughout the evening. This also applies to a 2001 pinot noir from Graf Hardegg, with structure and acidity that make it a well-chosen pairing with a perfect turbot meunière with shaved truffle and onion in three textures. The light red currant notes of the pinot drown neither the delicate turbot nor the wondrous truffle flavour. You should primarily visit Karoline Amalie for the savoury dishes, because although the deserts are tasty, presentable and prepared with the finest ingredients, we are left with an unmistakable sense of “autopilot” when a chocolate-covered scoop of blackcurrant ice cream arrives as one of the last items on the itinerary. But this is a microscopic bump in an evening during which our gastronomic cup hath runneth over.
Thai-spiced Kiin Kiin is the flagship restaurant of the ever-expanding pan-Asian empire created by gastro-entrepreneur Henrik Yde. Ten years in the game and the place hasn't lost the ambiance of a warm and welcoming exotic adventure land. Although the once so far-from-it-all location on a Nørrebro backstreet has become a bit more gentrified and polished since then. Most importantly: Chef Dak Laddaporn still manages to surprise us. Nowadays Kiin Kiin also offers a shorter theatre menu, but if you choose that your priorities are all wrong as the theatrics provided by the nine-course menu easily rival that of the stage. One of Kiin Kiin's claims to fame is the street-food-inspired snack section. A salty-sweet soy-cashew meringue paired with a potent but fruity wasabi cream is a tantalizing bite, and the miang kam salad, whipped together tableside and served in a spinach leaf, is just as fresh, tangy and hot as it should be. Chicken satay gets a modern twist where the peanut sauce is packaged as an intensely flavoured ice cream atop a crunchy piece of chicken skin. When the crispy pork comes in on its portable barbecue and the cloche over the signature dish of Chiang Mai sausages is opened releasing “street fumes” from Bangkok, the scene is definitely set for the nine courses still to come. Tom yam is another signature dish, and the clear broth doesn't look like much – but it’s the flavour that paints the picture here, deeply satisfying and conveying a distinct seafood and galangal aroma with a hot kick at the end. We get a small syringe with which we fashion our own noodles; though fun, the soup could easily have stood on its own. Sommelier Henrik Yde insists on well thought-out wine pairings (no beer to be seen here) and the grüner veltliner from Zillinger is pitch-perfect in augmenting the lobster aromas. This kitchen loves to play around with the concept of Thai food, but the fun and games never trump flavour. The twisted red curry, for example, is served granita-style. It slowly melts over an asparagus mousse and seared langoustine tail, adding both texture and temperature variation to the dish. One dish arrives under a ball of cotton candy, then they blend a spicy dressing at the table to pour over it and as the cotton candy melts it reveals a perfectly poached piece of cod. The aromatic experience is almost as satisfying as the dish itself with its light herbaceous notes mingling elegantly with the Peter Lauer riesling. The entertaining and utterly charming service staff definitely add to the draw of Kiin Kiin. Most of them are recruited from Thailand (where Yde also has a restaurant) and the pride in and knowledge of the food being served is a pleasure to experience. The “petits fours” are a real achievement in trompe l'oeil: many bowls arrive, one with real chillies alongside their chocolate replicas, and one similarly filled with both mock and real cinnamon sticks. One wrong move and you could easily bite down on a fiery chilli instead of chocolate one. Kiin Kiin truly entertains.
The two remaining musketeers from the Koch empire, Lasse and Michael Koch, haven’t slowed down in the slightest since Jesper Koch went solo with his own projects. Their style remains free of dogma and full of intense flavour, as epitomised by the snacks that begins our meal. Spicy minced pig snout with pickled chilli and tarragon mayo, and a cone filled with aubergine purée, kumquats and braised pig udder are among the first treats. These rather unconventional cuts push us to the limits of our comfort zone, but the familiar flavour of pork quickly makes us feel at ease in the complex culinary world of the Koch brothers. The opening course is like a first rite of spring, with small green shoots of fresh herbs topping an arrangement of cod carpaccio. The thinly sliced cod is beautifully marbled with a gelée of langoustine stock, adding extra depth to the flavour of the fish. A creamy sorbet of champagne and the citrusy freshness of grapefruit and lime complete the dish by ensuring a harmonic balance between the sweet and acidic. In our glasses is a fruity and floral sauvignon blanc with faint grapefruit notes – a good pairing with the early spring dish. Outside the restaurant ships gently bob in the marina; inside, we are serenaded by the crackling fireplace that helps to ensure a relaxing atmosphere in the otherwise neutral decor of the restaurant. The intensity of flavours gradually builds with each subsequent course. Aromatic vapours from a halibut fill our noses from the moment the burning hot plate hits our table. Thin slices of avocado, walnut confit, fresh greens and herbs are layered over the fish – while a healthy portion of oyster tartare lies hidden under the greens to uphold sea-freshness. All of this is topped tableside with hot melted duck fat, which is both surprising and a bit odd, but ultimately the dish is a rich success. As is characteristic of the brothers’ cuisine, it is an intense bombardment of complex flavours that nonetheless results in a well-composed and complete serving. It takes deep professional insight to convey the mad genius of the kitchen, but the service staff presents every detail flawlessly and the wines are accompanied by intriguing and descriptive narratives. With an almost Burgundian character of butter notes and richness, the wine Guru from the Douro Valley escorts a dish containing a scallop marinated in barbeque sauce topped with puffed pork rind. A bold sauce of grilled carrots accompanies the dish, together with a carrot pickled in cumin and orange, which adds intense acidity, a bit of sweetness and spiced notes. As always, creativity is paramount in the Koch kitchen, and their style is without compare. It is free of dogma, boasts an abundance of ostentatious elements from near and far, and never loses sight of absolute delectability as the common thread.
Kong Hans exudes quality, from the historic setting, inviting decor and ingredients of the finest calibre, to the masterful kitchen of Head Chef Mark Lundgaard, the impressive world-class service from the staff of waiters, and no less than two renowned sommeliers, Peter Pepke and Nina Jensen, the latter of which was recently named Best Nordic Sommelier. The restaurant’s quality is further bolstered by its 40-year history as a Danish pillar of classic gastronomy. Here you can expect to enjoy oysters, foie gras, lobster, pigeon and generous amounts of butter and cream. Indeed, somebody must protect the culinary crown jewels from a bygone era – and that is exactly what Kong Hans is doing, with the talent of Mark Lundgaard notably shaping the interpretations. The foie gras is not as heavy as expected – in fact, quite the contrary. A thick slice served with a pain d’epices sounds like a bomb, but the slightly acidic cherry “vinegar” lifts and lightens the dish, almost causing the taste of the fatty liver to seem fresh. Peter Pepke charts our course for the evening’s wines. The servings are presented with attentiveness, discretion and sincere interest in the pleasure of the guests. They guide us impressively through the wine list, inviting us to explore the whole world of wines, even though the heart of the list is in France. The seasonal appetisers are paired to our delight with a 2006 Tattinger Comtes de Champagne. The classic bubbles open the palate to the flavours of fried quail egg, snail toast, oysters with elderflower and venison consommé, as we consider the extravagant options offered by the à la carte menu. The lobster emerges victorious. How often are you served a whole Danish lobster at the table, prepared à la nage, à la américaine and Thermidor, fulfilling your butter quota for the entire next week, thanks in part to the irresistibly ethereal brioche? The excellent Gillardeau oysters are both inventive and extremely delicate. The acidity of a rosehip compote and zing of horseradish cream are brilliant with the rich and salty taste of the oysters, while kohlrabi adds crunch to the soft flesh. Our delight is complete with a Chassagne-Montrachet, whose elegant balance of acidity and ripe apple pairs perfectly with the oysters. Today’s five-course menu features such dishes as scallop with pickled onion skins and Oscietra caviar, followed by the highlight of the menu: a poached halibut with the old-school touch of a Noilly Prat sauce with whitefish caviar. This is creamy goodness, heartily salted with an acidic and bitter edge. Once again, Lundgaard’s talent manages to lighten the taste of a heavy classic. In the wake of the halibut come veal sweetbreads with morels, as well as a guinea fowl en cocotte with endive and truffle. These are followed by a delightful “ice cream parlour” where the pastry chef offers a wide selection of fresh fruit sorbets and small traditional Danish cookies. We have no choice but to raise the white flag upon arrival at the delicious homemade chocolates: we are fully satiated. Kong Hans is not cheap, but you can suffice with just a few dishes and a glass of wine, while still enjoying a cloud-nine culinary experience.
Leaven is living a quiet life in Copenhagen’s city centre – so quiet, in fact, that we’re all alone in the restaurant on the evening we pay a visit. This must be pure chance, because although it’s a Tuesday, the combination of such low prices for such excellent cuisine and good wines should make Leaven a sensation among diners. We start off with king crab, morels and apple in crab bisque, and it’s precisely as delectable as it sounds. We also make room for a serving of lumpfish roe – ‘tis the season – with cool potato cubes and a mild citrus mayo that is equally satisfying. This is followed by one of Leaven’s heavenly classics: strips of Danish squid with ventreche in a foam of Vesterhavsost cheese. Paired with these dishes is a 2014 riesling from Fritz Haag and Montagny 1er cru from Boillot in Bourgone, both of which are superb choices. The next dish is an unconventional serving of chicken in the form of succulent roasted breast and sausage with a warm remoulade sauce, followed by delightful, perfectly fried sweetbreads with a robust caper vinaigrette and sauce with leeks. These are paired with a glass of Morey-Saint-Denis 2014 Clos Solon. Or rather, two glasses – but who’s counting? Time for dessert: Jerusalem artichokes, both raw and sugar-pickled, and fudge with a wonderfully rich milk ice cream and thyme. For anyone who doesn’t particularly appreciate veg-based desserts, this is a pleasant surprise. A wonderful Tokaj from Leonis concludes a truly fine meal for the price; the four-course menu costs DKK 400 and the à la carte options are also available at reasonable prices. Heed this advice: put the money saved to good use by exploring Leaven’s impressive Burgundy list, be it Tuesday or any other day of the week.
At the forest's edge, a stone's throw from the water, one finds Hesselhuset and its phenomenal view of the Great Belt, where the simple and pure concept of Patrick Lieffroy’s restaurant has brought gastronomy of the highest class to new shores. A three-course menu is extremely reasonably priced, and additional dishes are available according to the occasion and budget. With bubbles of chardonnay and pinot noir from Taittinger in our glasses and a delicious serving of snacks that includes an exquisitely seasoned tartare of veal and a crisp chip with lumpfish roe and shrimp, the stage is set for a evening in the company of the finest ingredients. Classic craftsmanship doesn’t come much better than this, and many of the evening’s dishes stand out with their brilliance. The freshly caught cod from the Great Belt approaches signature status for this establishment, prepared to perfection and topped with a thin and porous toast Melba providing a crisp “skin” on the cod’s succulent meat. The dish is accompanied by small potatoes from the restaurant’s home island of Funen with Osietra caviar, lovage oil and an airy clam sauce with a touch of smoke from a mild smoked cheese cream and small morsels of smoked eel. The stout and impressive body of a weissburgunder from Rheinhessen provides a fine balance with the dish’s notes of sea and smoke. Danish lobster is served with an excellent light hollandaise with sage and classic peas à la française with shallots and bacon, a tasty twist of pickled gherkins and a black cream of fermented garlic. The Mâcon-Villages from Jean Marc Boillot, with its minimal oaked notes and fine acidity, goes well with the sweetness of the dish. Lieffroy is an alluring virtuoso and absolutely well worth a trip to experience.
Although the calendar shows it’s a Monday, the raw wooden tables in Manfreds’ cosy cellar are filled with diners. Christian Puglisi and Co.’s restaurant on the hipster street Jægersborggade has become a Copenhagen classic in the global bistro genre. We can hear from the languages being spoken that people come from far and wide to dine here. The waiters also come from every corner of the globe, and they all share a passion for the natural wines served with the menu’s predominantly vegetable-based dishes. The wines are explained concisely and without too much talk, and they have no unnecessary additives. This is not the place to come for a classic Bordeaux, but those with an open mind can look forward to unexpected and adventurous wine experiences. The first batch of starters in the seven-course sharing menu is accompanied by a glass without vintage from Emilia-Romagna made from the green grape variety pignoletto, whose crisp simplicity is a fine pairing with a warm and tasty mushroom bouillon and salted cod with broccoli cream. The kale salad with Sicilian blood orange works brilliantly with the moderate tannins and slightly bitter grapefruit notes of an orange wine, as does the dish of golden beets with almonds and cream. Veal loin is the evening’s only meat dish, but the kitchen can also cook meat expertly and the side of pointed cabbage is marvellous. Every dish resembles something you could have made at home with a little ingenuity; this type of simple cooking truly allows the good organic ingredients to shine. Manfreds is not the place you go for culinary feats with foam and dry ice, but it is a rather genuine neighbourhood restaurant whose excellent food and atmosphere work just as well for everyday occasions as for celebrations.
Hotel d'Angleterre, Kongens Nytorv 34, 1050 Copenhagen
Want to try Copenhagen’s most luxurious version of carbonara? Head for Hotel d’Angleterre and Marchal where Chef Andreas Bagh serves up squid tagliatelle-style in champagne butter sauce with oysters, cucumber, and of course, a generous dollop of Rossini Gold Selection Caviar to top it all off. It is quite simply a divine dish, where the oyster’s minerality and the umami in the sauce are elegantly balanced by the bright cucumber and the briny caviar. The texture of the squid is silky but still has a little bite to it, and together with the popping caviar provides an intriguing mouthfeel. It is a dish made for champagne, and the wine list here gives you every opportunity to splurge on a bottle. Marchal is doubtless the poshest place in Copenhagen to dine, and all the trimmings are certainly in place: spotless service, knowledgeable sommeliers, plush décor, and panorama windows that face the heart of Copenhagen: Kongens Nytorv. Though there’s a seemingly never-ending construction project going on in the square, obscuring any view, we still enjoy the steady stream of exclusive sports cars gliding up to the curb outside the hotel, providing ample fuel for who’s-who gossip between the courses. Posh, yes, but thanks to the fact that Marchal caters to a hotel clientele, the menu is all à la carte, so the curious gastro-traveller can actually slip in for a couple of dishes without having to order a complete tasting menu. While we wouldn’t call it affordable (mid-size servings start at DKK 200) it is certainly more accessible than many other restaurants in this range – and it’s even open for lunch. All other things aside, the food is worth a visit in its own right. This is a very self confident kitchen, well grounded in the French culinary tradition, but doubtlessly influenced by modern Nordic cooking – complemented with a pinch of spice here and there from all over the world. Two of Bagh’s other top scorers this year are the intensely flavoured confited sweetbreads with morels and sherry, seamlessly matched with an aged Brunello, and an Iberico secreto with walnuts and velvety sandalwood flavours from a seasoning with black cardamom. The desserts are lavish, with portions as large as the savoury dishes, and a tad less sophisticated. Like the signature “Gold bar” where a hazelnut, coffee and truffle bar is covered in gold leaf flakes and served with calvados ice cream. It’s intense and packed with flavour, but on the heavy side after a large dinner – although we wouldn’t mind at all popping in and devouring it with a coffee as an indulgent afternoon treat.
Restaurant MeMu in Vejle is an establishment in rapid development. After having moved to a larger location just one year ago, they are already in need of another expansion. In late summer 2017 the gourmet restaurant will move to a smaller, more intimate location, and the current restaurant will be converted into a brasserie. MeMu is well attended on this visit, and the clientele are in high spirits. White tiles line the walls around the semi-open kitchen. The light furniture and vibrant atmosphere will be a good match for the coming brasserie, and the gourmet kitchen will benefit from additional room for the contemplation and full concentration that Michael Munk’s exquisite creations deserve. The menu begins with a cured scallop, whose sweetness provides a base for the dish, while cucumber, mint and ramsons add pleasant and familiar aromatic nuances. The flavours are all distinctive, but the mint and ramsons add a particularly scintillating edge that works beautifully in the overall composition. Precise dollops of yoghurt support the scallop’s creamy and rich texture, while hazelnuts add a bit of crunch to the canvas. Sommelier and co-owner Mette Derdau presents an excellent pairing from Tenerife. Made with the listán blanco grape, which is also used for sherry, the wine has a complex and slightly oxidised character that captures both the herbs and nuts of the dish. The wine list features many interesting bottles, but we recommend choosing one of Derdau’s two curated sets of wine pairings. The glasses are poured generously and the knowledgeable service staff are masters of their profession, providing the excellent hospitality characteristic of Denmark’s Jutland peninsula. The kitchen shines with delicious dishes, all of which feature a small culinary twist. In a dish with pork breast, the meat is swathed in bergamot, which penetrates the grilled meat with an acidic and bitter touch in a new and welcome flavour combination, promoting the complexity of the succulent pork, slightly bitter bok choy and crisp fried salsify. The dessert unites caramel, Jerusalem artichokes, vanilla ice cream and a warm sauce of browned butter and brown sugar over a slice of grilled sourdough bread. It’s simple and delicious, and the sourdough’s grainy depth and slight acidity give the dish unique character. With masterful flavour composition in the kitchen, superb service and world-class wines, it is really no surprise that MeMu faces another impending expansion.
It’s a bitterly cold February day as we fight our way along muddy paths through Vilhelmsborg Forest. Then we catch a glimpse of the light and warmth of the former dairy. A beautiful room with whitewashed walls and arches awaits us, where we find comfortable seating in designer chairs at tables with thick damask tablecloths. At the controls in the kitchen is a distinct gastronomic personality, Allan Poulsen, whose résumé includes stints at Henne Kirkeby Kro and Bagatelle in Oslo. The meal begins with six savoury snacks and we are served three good petits fours as a finale. From end to end the dishes are prepared with pinpoint precision. Two of the starters stand out: the small celeriac ravioli filled with Rømø shrimp is a treat for the palate, as is the complex crisp biscuit with truffle cream and pickled pearl onion with shavings of dried veal heart. It's an orgy of umami, acidity, saltiness and a certain interesting funky taste – exactly the kind of dish you expect from Allan Poulsen. The same goes for the sweet black lobster with chives, garnished with a layer of whitefish roe, wood sorrel and turnip sprouts. This is the first of the dishes on the eight-course menu. Poulsen is able and willing to experiment with the jewels of the sea. Most striking and memorable is the long strip of Danish octopus with gelled beads of green tomato and crisp slices of raw Jerusalem artichoke, served with a split Jerusalem artichoke cream and a small, intense chlorophyll bomb of puréed dill. The acidity, slight liquorice flavour and nutty Jerusalem artichokes are wonderfully paired with the limestone and fruity notes of the white wine from southern French Côtes Catalanes. The wines, like the food, are exquisite and ingeniously paired with the dishes. The list is fondly focused on France, with classics and newcomers alike, but other European bottles also make an appearance. Two of the three richest dishes are based on mushrooms: the fried skate wing comes with porcini flakes and sauce blanquette, wonderfully harmonized with a spätburgunder from Pfalz, while the mushroom-infused sago porridge with a sauce made from mallard gizzards and hearts is served with a heavenly 2012 Barolo from Mauro Molino, La Morra. Our highly attentive waiter professionally and discreetly ensures that we are well informed and supplied with food and drink throughout the evening. Among the sweet dishes, the winner is the signature desert: a white chocolate sphere filled with pickled late-summer raspberries, milk chocolate with coffee and burnt hazelnut in a crisp croustade (harking back to the starter of crisp biscuit with truffle), a pickled plum with dark chocolate ganache and crispy wood sorrel salad, and lastly a small trio of all three chocolates on their own. Even after the extensive eight-course menu with many small snacks and sweets in between, we leave Mejeriet in high spirits and in awe of their impressive surgical craftsmanship.
A wall of moss provides atmosphere and acoustic insulation in Mes, the small restaurant owned by Chef Mads Rye Magnusson. With previous experience at restaurants such as Falsled Kro and Geranium, he certainly knows his stuff. Mes serves reasonably priced gourmet cuisine with wines – both natural and more classic vintages – almost exclusively from Jura and Germany. The atmosphere is informal with relatively loud electronic music, simple black tables and naked light bulbs hanging from the ceiling. All diners are served the same five-course menu, along with the option of purchasing additional snacks and cheese. The snacks are impressive and demonstrate Magnusson’s high ambitions. Platters arrive with shrimp chips and mushroom mayo, malt croustades with chive cream and tart red sprinkles of dried tomato. Toasted Tuscan kale with sous vide egg yolk, lovage hollandaise and crisp-fried potato crumbles is pure vegetal enjoyment. Another brilliant yet simple dish is the coarsely chopped veal tartare under a lid of paper-thin slices of raw mushroom surrounded by nothing more than small dots of horseradish mayo and shaved horseradish. The cold mushrooms and horseradish kick give the dish a refreshing coolness. A hippie wine from Arbois of chardonnay and merlot reeks of farmyard and tastes more like grape juice than wine, but it goes brilliantly with the raw freshness of the tartare. Magnusson’s modus operandi is to serve his personal favourites and we are not disappointed. His cuisine is modern yet unpretentious with simple dishes that reflect his personality and provide diners with no-frills Nordic luxury.
Soft lighting shines through the antique windows of a seventeenth century building in one corner of Frederiksberg Gardens. Torches and small portable fire pits outside Mielcke & Hurtigkarl light up the evening while inside an impressive LED lighting installation hangs side by side with classic crystal chandeliers from the ceiling. The walls of the dining room are studded with works of art, big and small, and visitors to the restrooms are serenaded with the sounds of lapping waves and fluttering butterflies. Many of the historic building’s fine details have been left untouched, and a live tree in the middle of the room is like an extension of nature from the surrounding gardens. The decor itself reflects dedication to the magic of details, something that becomes even clearer as the “Metamorphosis” menu’s many small dishes begin to arrive at our table. Chef Jakob Mielcke’s culinary style is eclectic and wide-ranging, and the menu takes us on a journey to all corners of the world. A deconstruction of Thai tom yum soup with icy coconut milk snow and shrimp tastes familiar, but the texture is totally different. Airy ravioli filled with a spicy 'nduja sausage is a wonderful Italian mouthful, and lumpfish roe with lemon and browned butter in a crisp cone of caramelised milk skin is a tasty tribute to Danish spring. The fare also attests to a kitchen in full command of its craft, with the simplicity and precision reminiscent of Japanese traditions. The kitchen’s storytelling art peaks with two dried “cold cuts” of duck: one from teal and one from a wild duck shot by the chef himself. These two understated bites are a liberating interlude in the evening’s cascade of impressions. The selection of drinks is enticing, with a relatively small but interesting wine list and well-composed pairings that, like the food, offer both adventurous and familiar experiences. For example, a wonderful dish of al dente fried Jerusalem artichoke with an umami-rich sauce of anchovy and egg yolk with pistachio dust is accompanied by a boisterous glass of Beaujolais blanc with slightly oxidized notes, while a serving of pigeon comes with a classic Barolo. The pigeon is roasted pink, garnished with lollo rosso lettuce and served on a bed of shaved truffle and French chanterelles, with a sauce of sherry and morels – a perfect dish that becomes all the more spectacular with the fungal earthy notes of the elegant Barolo. We substitute some of the wine pairings with alcohol-free homebrewed kombucha, a decision we do not end up regretting. It is a revelation to experience an amazing rooibos tea kombucha, whose distinct fragrance matches a dish of turbot, nestled under beetroot wafers and topped with a bright red sauce, fermented blackcurrants and lardo. Chef Mielcke and Sommelier José Santos are not in the restaurant this evening, but both the service and the kitchen perform without a hitch. Restaurant Manager Thomas Amir Korby and his staff exude the expertise, calm, knowledge and professionalism it takes to make a dining experience complete. Combined with one of Denmark’s most eclectic yet accomplished kitchens, the resulting experience is original, distinctive and flawless.
Chef Steffen Villadsen has been responsible for carrying on the proud traditions of Molskroen (Mols Inn) since the beginning of 2016. Lest there be any doubt, let us begin by saying that his high gastronomic ambitions have been realised to the fullest. With a style based on classic French cuisine, Villadsen innovatively combines ingredients in richly detailed and interesting new twists. The first course features Limfjord oysters, quickly fried to intensify the taste of the sea. Savoy cabbage, Høost cheese and toasted wheat berries add deep flavourful notes, while pickled green strawberries add a freshness that plays well against the exotic fruits of a Slovenian orange wine. The wine’s fine acidity and minerality stand up well to the lightly metallic flavour of the oysters. It’s an excellent and creative wine pairing from Restaurant Manager Karina Kannegaard, who came to Molskroen from S’vinbar in Aarhus, bringing with her a number of interesting bottles from the big city. Our waiter playfully “warns” us about the somewhat “nerdy” bottles, but we enjoy the personality, soul and strong storytelling behind the wines, as the small niche winemakers are nicely integrated into the overall composition of the wine menu. Coenobium, the monastery wine from Lazio, is fruity with slightly earthy mushroom notes, making it an excellent match with the next serving’s duxelles of mushrooms and onion. Underneath the duxelles is a piece of perfectly cooked line-caught cod with pickled gooseberries and intensely spiced, paper-thin, crispy slices of ventrèche. A marvellous fumet of smoked fish bones rounds out the excellent flavour of this dish. The service is razor sharp in its choreography where the food is paraded proudly to the table on high-raised platters by a small brigade of chefs. The professionalism shines through, but the chefs also bring the presentation down to earth with personal stories about everything from animal welfare to apprenticeship anecdotes. Exclusivity is evident in the decor, with golden copper lamps, light wooden floors and black wooden furniture with cognac leather. And although the service is often reminiscent of a fine French restaurant, the warm smiles of the wait staff remind us that we are still in Jutland after all. The main course is a cut of succulent rabbit saddle with fried foie gras, crisp pickled Nashi pear and a piquant Madagascar pepper glaze that provides a sharp contrast to the sweet pear and deliciously rich foie gras. Slightly bitter walnuts and fresh celery ensure that the dish touches on the full spectrum of tastes, resulting in perfect harmony. A visit to Molskroen is a consummate dining experience that expertly combines classic virtues with contemporary trends. Delicious flavours and French cuisine remain the solid foundation of the inn, even as refreshing new ideas from near and far wash in from Ebeltoft Bay.
In the midst of Mols Bjerge National Park lies the Friland eco-village, home to the vegetarian gourmet restaurant Moment since 2016. With new Head Chef René Warn, whose past experience includes a stint at Kommandanten in Copenhagen, the menu is light-years from simple salads. The flavours are full throttle, as techniques such as pickling, fermentation and smoking transform familiar vegetarian ingredients into intense new culinary experiences with depth and complexity. Slow-braised green cabbage has a caramelised, sweet depth, as juice from fermented cabbage gives the dish more power and balanced acidity. Le Sacre from Ebeltoft Bryghus, a fine and vinous beer from the drinks menu, does a good job of capturing both the fermented and fresh notes, but struggles a bit with the sweetness of the cabbage. The host couple, Morten and Rikke Storm Overgaard, are working the floor this evening. They share their expertise on ingredients, preparation and the wines in our glasses, while providing warm and welcoming hospitality. The restaurant is bright, with modern Nordic decor and a view of the somewhat futuristic greenhouse, where many of the kitchen’s ingredients are grown during the summer. The dessert nicely concludes a well-composed meal with a taste of sunny summer: pickled wild blueberries and a refreshing granité of aronia berries with crystallised white chocolate, caramel and rich, creamy sheep’s milk yoghurt topped with dried rosehip petals that give the dish a lightly perfumed and floral summer aroma. A meal at Restaurant Moment is a tour de force in vegetarian diversity with sustainable principles underlying the delicious cuisine on every plate.
Morten Nielsen is celebrating 20 years as a restaurateur in Aalborg; and from the very first popping of inaugural corks, his ambition has been to position the restaurant at the upper echelon of the city’s gastronomic establishments. Extensive elbow grease has gone into creating a cosmopolitan milieu that stands out from Aalborg’s other restaurants. Cream-coloured leather, purple neon, an Uncle Scrooge painting and lounge versions of such classics as the Temptations’ “My Girl” are just a taste of the sensory input in the dimly lit, cave-like restaurant – a David Lynchian hybrid of dream and reality. With precision, credibility and a well-measured formal distance, Morten himself orchestrates the evening’s meal. Surprisingly, the oeuvre of snacks, bubbles and bread receives a taciturn presentation amounting only to a quick mention that the bread is “warm” and nary a word about the champagne. We move on to the evening’s menu, where the best dish is a cut of perfectly fried wolf-fish fillet garnished with creamy saffron barley risotto, perfectly acidic sauce nage and al dente cabbage; the pairing of an oily, floral viognier fits the cabbage like a glove and brings us to a state of bliss. A luxurious serving of poached cockerel, sauce suprême of crème fraîche, goose liver and cognac with shaved winter truffle is just as classic as a Mercedes 350SL cabriolet and evokes sentimentality for Larousse Gastronomique and a bygone era. The richness could have been broken up by something crisp, but the balance and completeness are fortunately consolidated by a cool, acidic pinot from Santa Barbara. The old-school style continues with a veal fillet flambé, carved at our table. The accompaniments of creamy potato purée, glossy veal demi-glace and a thick basil sauce are flawless and seamlessly intertwine with the bacony and peppery California shiraz from Coppola; although the portion is more than generous, this overly safe dish lacks a few innovative and enthralling elements. This issue is obliterated by the myriad inventive and affable options on the cocktail menu, which you absolutely must dabble in before calling for the bill.
The website implores locals to drop by and enjoy themselves in the united spirits of Christianshavn (where the restaurant is located) and Bornholm (the home island of Kadeau’s founders) – be it for breakfast, lunch or dinner. The decor perfectly matches the culinary style, which is simple, Nordic and seasonal. On an autumn evening, it is only natural to start with a herby, rich appetiser of beef broth with tarragon oil and beef fat, bringing warmth to body and soul alike. Appetiser number two is a dehydrated beetroot with shredded beef fat and yeast – a sensational umami bomb to kick off our meal. And thus it continues at an impressive clip. Our waiters are well informed about the food and wine, the latter of which are low on sulphites, in keeping with the concept. The appetisers are accompanied by a white Jura made with savagnin and other local grapes, whose nice acidity and slight oxidation make it a fine pairing with the sour and umami-rich servings; it brilliantly matches a simple but refined dish of al dente squid with sweet grilled beetroot, sour yoghurt and fresh citrusy herbs. The tartare, not to be missed, is a real pleaser. Coarsely minced meat with good flavour and structure is joined by sour green tomatoes and oyster mayo, bringing the dish together nicely with richness and bitter/salty notes. A gargantuan and inelegant dessert with a slightly too chewy meringue, sloppily seasoned whipped cream and pickled cherries lacks sweetness and is simply a dud. But the kitchen is otherwise fine-tuned and unmistakably in the Kadeau lineage from beginning to end. A more affordable everyday version of its famous big brother, it’s a genuine “back pocket” deserving of a visit.
Naert opened in 2015 as a Norwegian gourmet restaurant with long menus and high prices, but a revamping of the menu last year saw a reduction in both. We are immediately thrilled by the introductory snacks, a simple and satisfying egg boiled in miso, served with a little dill mayonnaise. Throughout the menu the flavours are intensely delicious. A boned chicken thigh is surrounded by a thick and enticing ultra-crisp skin, while an acidic butter sauce with dulse and fried Tuscan kale envelops the crispness with a jaw-dropping umami punch. An orange wine with strong tannins and bold acidity stands up well to the rich dish. Naert clearly shows that Norwegian/Nordic cuisine is capable of embracing more than the cool and delicate flavours it’s known for. The kitchen makes good use of the season’s available ingredients, while banking those of past seasons with the extensive use of fermentation and pickling. A slow-roasted lamb breast virtually melts under the outer crust, held in check by beetroot and fermented blackcurrant. The beetroot notes in the extremely succulent and meaty gamay wine pairing make the dish sing loud and clear. Our attentive sommelier (the only waiter this evening) has carefully considered the natural wines that he exquisitely pairs with the flavours of our food. The only misstep of the evening is the bland milk ice cream with chunks of dry pastry, pickled sea buckthorn and poppy seeds. It looks like someone smushed a
Danish pastry into a scoop of ice cream, and the accompanying oloroso sherry is too dry to withstand the sweetness of the dish. The dining room has too few tables to fill out the relatively large space, and the naked bulbs hanging from the ceiling do nothing to create a cosy atmosphere, but the friendly service and kitchen’s high level of culinary ability make the overall experience a positive one.
At the little sister to the finer AOC, Christian Aarø and crew have found a style with quality and craftsmanship of the same high standards at a very reasonable price, executed with greater simplicity and less prestigious ingredients. On this winter evening, sitting by the restaurant’s large-windowed facade, Copenhagen is mirrored in the adjacent waters of Christians-havn. In summer you can enjoy the same view in sunlight, sometimes from the outdoor terrace. The view adds an extra dimension to the meal, and fortunately the restaurant is not short on window tables. Aarø is among Denmark’s best sommeliers, as evidenced in the wine list. The wine pairings (DKK 325 for four glasses), as well as the many glasses and extravagant bottles on the wine list, have all been selected with the greatest of care. We are served a glass of young chardonnay from Hamilton Russel on the Western Cape of South Africa, whose minerality and fresh notes of pear and lime balance a brilliant dish of salted pollock. The fish comes in green robes of lightly smoked Tuscan kale and cod roe cream with pickled elderflowers. Several dishes during our meal employ this discreet use of smoke and richness to add an edge to the creamy flavour, including the boneless rib-eye in a jacket of beets with marrow and slightly bitter parsley emulsion. This subtle smokiness is at its best in the tender lamb belly with large, mild Brussels sprout leaves, parsley root and smoked butter sauce. The smoke, nutty butter and bitter Brussels sprouts are all elevated by a fantastic glass of pinot noir 2012 from Pro Bono from the central coast of California: a velvety, fresh wine with notes of red berries and mushrooms. The menu is smart and edgy from beginning to end, and Chef Nikolai Køster also has a flair for desserts. “Lemon mousse” with caramel and frozen yoghurt has fresh acidity, while mocha foam with chestnut and salted caramel ice cream is sweet, salty and slightly bitter. Both hit the bull’s-eye with few frills. The service is attentive, impeccable and informal (guests fetch their own cutlery, for example). But the food is served hot and often by a team of servers. Our total indulgence of the palate ends with well-brewed mocha and a reasonable bill of less than 2,000 DKK for two.
Nordisk Spisehus features a carousel of changing themes, but the common thread is signature dishes from top restaurants around the world that the kitchen has been granted permission to copy or build upon. This evening’s inspiration comes from the European restaurant Arcane in Hong Kong. We start with four snacks that include fried veal sweetbreads and trout cream on toast: a delicious mixture of crisp and smooth textures. We consult with the sommelier and, heeding his advice, we choose a wonderfully structured chardonnay-auxerrois-blend from Zind-Humbrecht to accompany the first two courses. The first serving is a small masterpiece from Arcane: fresh halibut, lightly marinated in yuzu, soy sauce, ginger and olive oil, with small cubes of confited jicama root. This citrus-driven opener with a nice bite to both the fish and the root is a perfect match for the wine. The ensuing butter-fried scallops of the restaurant’s own design are served with lumpfish roe, a crisp net of crepe batter, butter-fried broccolini and a creamy, well-seasoned herb hollandaise. The dish looks and tastes fabulous. Returning to Hong Kong, we are served a small and very tender cut of garlic-glazed flat ribs with spinach and fried shallots. Next up is another Nordisk Spisehus original - canette and a roll of pointed cabbage, salsify and walnuts in three wonderful variations: boiled, confited and fried. It all meshes beautifully with flavourful duck in crispy bites that reflect the quality ingredients and expertise of the kitchen. The restaurant is cosy, though a bit formal, and the staff perform with precision and professionalism throughout the evening. They have certainly succeeded at their stated mission of bringing the world to Aarhus, partly due to their own innovations.
Where to go for the ultimate smørrebrød? The answer can only be Palægade. The prolific team behind formel B brought in Simon Olesen and Karina Pedersen from the classic smørrebrød establishment Schønnemann, and together they have given rise to a fantastic mix of classics and innovative versions of smørrebrød. This is not only evident on the plates, but also among the clientele of all ages and the decor, which features classic furniture and late modern touches in a well-lit, dark brown room. The spirit of service permeates every iota of the restaurant. Palægade is begotten of the preeminent smørrebrød purveyors of yore, delivering proper yet unpretentious service. The guests are a good mix of smørrebrød connoisseurs, businesspeople, young couples, celebrities and designer types, all swooping in quickly to relieve vacant tables of their empty chairs. The unfiltered beer in our glasses and the many interesting aquavit choices on the menu are merely the opening act for the gastronomic crown jewel of Denmark: the smørrebrød. We order a variety of toppings for our open-faced sandwiches, including a classic breaded plaice fillet with mayonnaise and shrimp, and an innovative signature dish with tartare of lobster, pickled pearl onions and a breaded poached egg. All the ingredients are of the finest quality and everything is homemade. Each of these dishes make a deep impression in our culinary memory as being perfectly fresh, soft, sweet, salty, crunchy and creamy. Once again we choose two different slices: a by-the-book chicken salad with crisp bacon and toasted wheat bread, and a re-interpreted tartare with semidried slices of tomato on dark rye bread with pepper mayo. The tartare is hand-chopped, and we enjoy the excellent contrast from the pepper and solid umami from the tomato. It’s a fitting choice for those looking for something new, while the chicken salad once again underscores this immortal classic’s permanent status in the pantheon of smørrebrød; its creamy delectability and crisp bite make it one of the most pleasing options on the menu. Yet another iconic representative of Danish lunch classics is the potato smørrebrød: it may well be the most proletarian of them all, served here with slices of Skagen ham and ramson mayo. Should your hunger remain insatiable, you can conclude the meal with a Danish layer cake or a rich, crunchy biscuit cake with a wisely innovative and refreshing orange twist. Good French press coffee rounds out our lunch. Palægade is the Parnassus of classic and innovative smørrebrød – and what’s more, it’s pleasantly cosy.
Restaurant Pasfall is relaxed and informal, yet proper and sufficiently mannered in a way that’s only possible when all of the members of a staff master their roles. The style is traditional with a local twist from the island of Funen. We begin the evening with the Danish classic of fried pork belly and parsley sauce – but not in its usual form. Instead it’s served as a snack of small crisp flakes with parsley emulsion. It’s a little tip of the cap to Pasfall’s roots on the island of Funen. An intense and foamy mushroom soup with pickled beech mushrooms is partnered elegantly with a dry S de Suduiraut, whose aromatic notes of gooseberry and fine, slightly bitter finish is delightful with the rich soup. A cold-poached cod is cured, cooked at a low temperature and served with variations of celeriac and a blanket of black truffle – a hearty but delicious dish whose lack of acidity is partially offset by the accompanying Montagny 1er cru 2013 from Jean-Marc Boillot. We stay in Burgundy with a glass of velvety Hautes-Côtes de Nuits from Michel Gros to go with a deep and umami-saturated consommé with pigeon confit in crisp packaging with pickled onion. The service is top-notch, With just over a year under its belt, The Balcony is already firmly established as more than a passing fad with delusions of grandeur. We begin a spring evening in March with a glass of champagne blanc de blancs from Henri Mandois and a rain of snacks. The most memorable ones include the caramelly Jerusalem artichoke purée in its own crisp, fried Kenneth Rimmer Sørensen heading up the front of house, and the wines are well chosen and mature. Pasfall long ago established itself in Odense’s restaurant scene as a classic, with culinary excellence and good service at the forefront. The preparations are precise and the flavours intense, but we sense a lack of balance in the menu between the light and heavy dishes. It’s almost too much of a good thing, one might say; after our evening at Pasfall we are glad, but also very full.
For nearly 20 years, Piaf’s Head Chef Marc Noël has served attractive plates with the gastronomic DNA of his childhood in southwestern France, a touch of Italian sensibilities regarding ingredients and seasonal herbs of central Jutland. The restaurant appears modest from the outside with an awning, a faded display case on the facade and a cast iron doorway – an appropriate symbol of the informal southern European style that characterises our visit. Noël welcomes us in as if we were his closest friends, as the tones of iconic French crooners such as Aznavour and Gainsbourg fill the room; the decor is stylish yet old-school with draped fabric tablecloths, fresh white roses and spotlessly polished, high-quality glasses. The fish dishes stand out during the evening’s seven-course programme. A cut of steamed turbot shines in the company of a crunchy garnish of julienned Granny Smith apple, salicorn, celeriac purée and a creamy beurre blanc with terse citrus. Textures and flavours cover the full gamut, complementing one another while also singing in their own right. The dish is washed down with a biodynamic Alsace riesling from Bott Geyl, whose mature fruit character interacts brilliantly with the richness of the beurre blanc. Noël’s presentations are informative and unpretentious, but never negligent. The maritime highlights of the meal also include a fried monkfish tail in a foam of Vildmose potato and drizzled with an intense ramson oil. The piquant, garlicky ramson balances the intense flavours of the crisp fried crust of the fish, as do the toast notes in the well-paired Burgundy from Leflaive. Beautiful and classic. The meat dishes and desserts round out the evening with a certain laid-back routine; precise preparations and top-shelf ingredients, but not that innovative. The sweet finale in particular, a moelleux au chocolat with chocolate sorbet and crème anglaise, was heavy on top, lacking both acidity and variation in texture.
There is a wide range of restaurants in Copenhagen operating at altitudes just under the gourmet heavy hitters – Pony is one them. While they offer fewer elements on the plates, and the comfort and service are not quite as extravagant – the flavour is beyond reproach. We choose the changing four-course menu, dubbed “Pony Kick”, and a corresponding number of à la carte dishes to ensure a thorough exploration of the menu. The vegetarian starter is comprised of baked beetroot with fresh goat’s cheese, pickled mustard seeds and ramson capers generously sprinkled with freshly ground pepper. The salty cheese and acidic capers elegantly counter the sweetness of the tender beetroot – and had it not been for the earthy and bitter beetroot wafers, it would have been a perfectly balanced dish. The great flavours continue with thick slices of salted brill. The firm fish rests in a fiery horseradish cream, while the raw Brussels sprout leaves on top add juiciness and a touch of sweetness to the dish. The accompanying grüner veltliner from Arndorfer is an invitingly drinkable choice – as reflected by the one-litre bottle – whose palate-cleansing crispness goes particularly well with the sprouts. The wines are consistently natural wines, featuring small winemakers. A nest of Tuscan kale encircles an orange egg yolk confit, which flows nicely out into the sauce of reduced chicken stock split with parsley oil. The depth of the chicken stock is unforgettable – if Pony sold it to go, people would stand in line for hours to get their hands on it. A standout among the main courses is the flaked cod with a crystal-clear centre, served with baked, shrivelled Jerusalem artichokes and a subtle cream of cod roe reminiscent of the Swedish specialty, Kalles Kaviar. Our delight continues unimpeded throughout the evening, as we are treated to exemplary service by the team of waiters, who exhibit flexibility and a keen sense of each diner’s needs. Pony goes all-in on delicious cuisine, without digging deep into your wallet.
Radio looks like the inside of a Scandinavian designer log cabin, with raw wood and large, empty windows facing out towards the iconic former home of the Danish Broadcasting Company’s radio studios – thus the name. The restaurant is the epitome of modern, healthy Nordic cuisine made with the season’s simple ingredients. We begin by feasting on rustic Øland wheat bread and an irresistible butter whipped with buttermilk and browned onion. Strips of Danish octopus are served with a creamy sauce of bakskuld (salted and smoked witch flounder), apple vinegar gelée, and grated egg yolk. A burnt leek adds a tad too much bitterness to this otherwise delicious dish with a good balance of richness, sweetness and acidity. Saltwater-poached cod with raw, marinated celeriac, celeriac purée, hay-cream, apple leather and toasted buckwheat seeds actually proves somewhat bland. Meanwhile, a 2015 aligoté from Meursault, fresh and acidic with a touch of butter, goes perfectly with the dish. Although also arriving in white and light hues, the next dish has a copious and fulfilling depth of flavour: baked Jerusalem artichokes with crisp pickled onion, a foamy sauce of Jerusalem artichokes and roasted almond butter for an added umami kick. A dark yellow 2005 riesling from Joseph Schmidt in Kremstal has a good age and is sufficiently stout to withstand the smoky richness of the Jerusalem artichokes. The cuisine is veg-intensive and many dishes resemble each other, following the formula of a root vegetable, a light sauce and a little bit of protein. It’s monotonous at times, but every dish shows careful consideration of balance and texture. Our waiters share their wonderfully nerdy enthusiasm for the wines and food, so we leave Radio wiser and with a comfortable lightness of body.
Christian Puglisi has perfected his simple idea, rooted in a deep commitment to sustainability and organics, by going to creatively daring new heights. Bringing his inner Italian more clearly to the fore has only resulted in even more delicious fare. The room is still minimalist but filled with a diversity of guests, creating a warm and pleasant atmosphere. The service is also informal but extremely correct, as we are clearly in the company of purveyors of elite Nordic gastronomy. Vegetables play the leading role here. Many of the first dishes on the experience menu exemplify Relæ’s interpretation of Mies Van der Rohe: less is more. The year’s first radishes with a cod roe cream, perfectly poached Zittauer onion in birch juice with spruce shoots and oil, and large, wonderful mussels in their own jus with ramsons. Fresh baked sourdough bread also arrives at the table, further appeasing our appetites – but this is just the beginning. The menu offers wine pairings, but with excellent guidance from the knowledgeable staff, it’s worth exploring whether bottles could be an option at the same or an even lower price. La Matta is a fresh spumante with low alcohol content and it goes brilliantly with many of the first dishes, including the memorable Limfjord oyster in yoghurt, packed in various green spring shoots and cabbage from Birkemosegård: the bitterness and cream are enhanced by a perfect edge of lemon and juniper berry. The kitchen uses as much as possible from the restaurant’s own farm or other nearby organic producers, but avoids being fanatically Nordic with its embrace of dazzling lemons and olives from warmer lands to the south, as well as an array of techniques and flavours from Italian cuisine. This approach is manifest in the next innovative and alluring dish: rehydrated potato as a kind of cacio e pepe. The potatoes are prepared like the Peruvian Chuño. This makes it possible to cook the potato al dente, and with a little sprinkling of lemon peel. It is the evening’s greatest masterpiece. We have red grapes in our glass from Selva Dolce in Bordighera, and on the recommendation of our waiter we choose to share a single glass of orange wine, “Vej 2010” vintage 2015, as a pairing with the Hindholm Farm pork. The wine has a surprising amount of body and is excellent, while the serving of slightly bland slices of pork with broccoli shoots is the evening’s only mediocre dish. But the all-out flavour returns with the desserts, where the cheese is virtually a cannoli with homemade ricotta, olive and blueberry, laying the groundwork for two inventive desserts. A base of grapefruit with frozen yoghurt ice cream on top of a lemon-mandarin-orange gratiné replicates the wonderful flavour of a classic Danish ice cream on a stick known as the Copenhagen Bar. After freshening us up with acidity, the menu goes umami with a mushroom parfait, glazed mushrooms, chanterelle powder and a caramel of mushroom soy sauce, with crunch from a crispy croissant. On departure, our palates are satiated and satisfied by Relæ’s diverse simplicity.
Forget all about foam, dust and live shrimp. Instead, lean back in the wide chairs and enjoy the classic French-Danish cuisine from the hand of the unassuming power couple, Lisbeth and Bo Jacobsen. At the helm of Restaurationen for more than 25 years, they do so much to make sure guests feel comfortable that we practically feel like we’re visiting them at home. This is the kind of true hospitality that you should find everywhere. Bo cuts thin slices of 660-day air-dried Danish ham at the table while sharing tales from far and wide. Along with the ham, we enjoy a perfectly poached egg with truffle cream, crisp croutons and freshly shaved truffles – a sexy dish and also the evening’s best. Pot pies with mushroom sauce and breaded sweetbreads are simply too much after two mouthfuls, lacking in freshness and contrasting flavours. The fish of the day is fried redfish, served on a vegetable terrine with a green parsley clam sauce. It tastes good, but looks like something a skilled home chef could easily prepare on a Saturday. A 2000 Henriot champagne at a very attractive price brings some added exuberance to the evening. The wine list as a whole is modestly priced, offering an impressive selection of vintage bottles, and we are expertly guided through it by the house sommelier. Our coffee is accompanied by Lisbeth’s fantastic selection of homemade petits fours. We leave the establishment full, satisfied and ebullient from the champagne. We don’t go here to be modern, but to enjoy expert service, drink mature wines, eat well-cooked food prepared with the finest ingredients, and simply surrender to the warm embrace of Bo and Lisbeth.
In true southern Jutland fashion, we are welcomed warmly at the door, our coats are taken and we are escorted to a table with a view over bumpy cobblestone streets in the heart of Tønder. Despite the restaurant being fully booked, the talented chefs and owners, Marcel Rodrigues and Steffen Snitgaard, elegantly create a relaxed atmosphere for a culinary journey through interpretations of local ingredients and traditional regional dishes, while also finding time to chat with guests, answer questions and take part in serving dishes from the open kitchen in the barely 98-square-metre restaurant. They have returned to their hometown to create a locally-rooted gastronomic bastion with affordable prices. Given the sublime five-course menu for DKK 398, their mission has undeniably been successful. Both the cutlery and art were made especially for the restaurant by local artists, and the juice menu is predominantly sourced from local farmers. The wine list comprises a limited but well-curated selection of French, German and Italian bottles with the most popular classic grapes. We are served a welcome snack of light veal terrine and a mushroom mayo that gives the delicate cold meat nice acidity and notes of porcini, as well as homemade chips, homemade olives, salted almonds, malt buns, and oats and butter whipped with locally sourced ramsons. Sauce nage, a delicate balancing act between sour and sweet, is strongly dependent on the quality of the wine. In this serving, it goes perfectly with fresh wolffish, whose white meat and mildly sweet flavour reveal a diet primarily composed of lobster. Carrot purée, dill oil and fresh dill add freshness and colour to the beautiful dish. Effervescent redcurrant juice from the local cider mill, Vibegaard, is a well-chosen sweet and sour match. Open meat pie – a classic local dish – is at its best with the rich but light and crispy puff pastry, filled with a vegetable ragout of creamy Jerusalem artichokes, sharp horseradish and spring onions, topped with paper-thin slices of radish, cress and crisp chicken skin with a flavour that cuts through the dish. Small chunky slices of veal round, slow roasted at 56 degrees Celsius, are completely pink and juicy with excellent structure, accompanied by grilled spring onion, celeriac purée and pommes anna – an often heavy side which in this version offers a light, fresh onion flavour. The round red wine glaze with light tannins once again shows that the kitchen does not cut corners with the quality of its cooking wine. The cheese board features Havgus, Rød Løber and the local Sønderjyske Blå, accompanied by a sweet and sour apple compote, delicious toasted dark rye bread and a well-executed lightly salted crisp bread. The strong cheeses are matched by “Æbleau”, a voluminous, acidic and sweet fortified cider made with Danish apples from Skærsøgaard and featuring vanilla notes from oak barrel aging. The dessert is a crisp almond crumble topped with rhubarb compote and fresh rhubarb pastry, whose acidity is balanced by sweet caramel ice cream.
We are in the northernmost reaches of Denmark, encircled by breathtakingly scenic nature. Chef Dennis Juhl Jensen elegantly weaves elements of his surroundings into a number of dishes served this evening. Our geographical location is firmly established from the very first bite: a crisp puffed fish skin welcomes us to the tastes of Skagen and its waters. The in-between course called “Skagen Fish” features a beautiful cut of crispy fried turbot. A mild sauce of browned butter and potato has a deep richness and creamy texture that provide a base for the turbot’s flavour and firm flesh. Leaves of Brussels sprouts are butter-steamed to temper the bitterness and the slightly sweet cabbage notes blend gently into the dish without causing jolting disruptions. A fashionable splash of green oil and a sprinkling of nettle dust complete the aesthetic presentation and add a light aromatic nuance. Flavour, consistency and presentation are all in perfect harmony – a trait echoed in the subsequent dish of tender fried veal sweetbreads. The sweetbreads are served on a bed of delicate and sweet browned onion purée and tender mushrooms, which are an ideal textural companion for the sweetbreads. The dish, completed with foaming morel sauce, is accompanied by the evening’s best wine pairing: a biodynamic trousseau from Jura. The wine has plenty of fresh acidity to cleanse the richness of the sweetbreads and contrast the sweet onions, as well as nice earthy mushroom notes that harmonise with the morel sauce. All of the wine pairings keenly match the kitchen’s dishes, and the waiters convincingly relay the origin of the wines and their connection with the food. The service generally reflects the high standard at Ruths Hotel, with a style elegantly adapted to the temperament of the guests. The decor is bright and Nordic, with a relaxing atmosphere and a soothing, crackling open fire, which not only sets the mood, but also gives flavour to the main course of beef tenderloin. The taste of smoke and fire give greater character to the otherwise mild-flavoured cut, which is served with salsify, bittersweet walnut purée and truffles – a dish that is just as well composed as the rest of our meal. An uncompromising dedication to flavour is the kitchen’s guiding star, while Juhl Jensen’s creativity brings the surrounding nature and ingredients of Skagen to the plate, cementing the restaurant’s place as one of the many reasons to visit the uppermost tip of Denmark. (Note: Just before printing we learned that Dennis Juhl will be opening a new restaurant in Aalborg after the summer of 2017, and will be replaced by Jakob Spolum (currently at Sletten.)
An old red cottage rests idyllically between forest and sea. In the summer, it offers outdoor service; in the winter, its guests are invited into the simply appointed room. For some years now, Anita Klemensen has cemented her reputation as one of Denmark’s most talented chefs. With unobtrusive but firm principles, Klemensen and her skilled sommelier, who combines a seemingly clairvoyant understanding of each guest with an inviting manner, have crafted a special atmosphere around the perfectly executed and incredibly delicious menu, which varies from four to eight dishes. The kitchen’s style is evident from the start, as oysters arrive with the strong, bitter flavour of cress and acidic tapioca pearls that have been marinated in sweet porter. The simple language of the seasons is spoken here. Early spring can be one of the most difficult periods when it comes to variety – but not for the kitchen at Den Røde Cottage. Lumpfish roe served in generous portions over a cream with crispy cubes of Jerusalem artichoke makes a strong textural impression. One of the highlights is a perfect cut of fried cod with a wheat berry cream: a re-interpretation of Waldorf meets Denmark, with crisp celery flakes, hazelnut purée, apple pieces and hay-smoked cheese. Our uplifting and genuinely cheerful waiter enthusiastically explains why this Chassagne-Montrachet, with its richness and acidity, is a good pairing for the lightly salted cod and smoked notes in the cheese. And he’s right. Throughout the evening he matches the wines flawlessly. The menu’s most inventive dish is “onions in onions”: burnt, puréed and a sweet bomb of umami in a rich bouillon, with a kick from the season’s first tiny ramson shoots. Meat cravings are catered to with veal tongue and veal with a light herb fricassee, joined by the most delicious leek we have tasted in ages. The kitchen masters vegetable contrasts, ensuring that all of the dishes are fresh and multifaceted in flavour and texture. Anita has a special touch with desserts. Her past exploits, including her role as pastry chef at Søllerød Kro, cannot be concealed. She even succeeds in making white chocolate taste heavenly and fresh in an ice cream with pickled rosehip leaves, rosehip syrup and liquorice, revitalising the palate in the wake of the main courses, while paving the way for our final landing with the most iconic sweet and bitter classic of them all: chocolate, chocolate, chocolate. This most glorious chocolate cake, with chocolate in three layers, textures, and intensities, has been on the menu through the years – and regulars would undoubtedly march out in protest if it were not.
If you are the least bit enthusiastic about smørrebrød, the Danish claim to culinary fame, you are likely to fall in love with Schønemann. The restaurant is, as is customary, situated a few steps down from street level, and first thing that catches your eye is the well-stocked bar. Few places in town can compete with Schønemann’s offering of over 140 kinds of schnapps – and if you find the volume daunting the staff are very skilled at finding the very best match for your order and taste buds. The menu is extensive and you can definitely find every kind of traditional smørrebrød here, as well as quite a few original inventions. Some pay homage to regulars and Copenhagen icons like “Renés favourite” dedicated to Noma’s chef, a light creation of Greenland halibut, creamed cucumbers, radishes and chives. The service is folksy and friendly, and very knowledgeable. Although it’s a smørrebrød classic, shrimp is often a disappointment at Copenhagen establishments, as they’ve often been swimming in brine longer than they were in the ocean. Not so here, where both the plump, hand-peeled shrimp and the homemade mayo on the “shrimp pyramide” serving passes the test with flying colours. We are served an oaked dill schnapps to go with “Havfruen” (The Little Mermaid) and it works very well together with smoked salmon, halibut and the dill-spiked shrimp mayo that tops it off. Herring (house-pickled, of course) is a must here, as is trying one of the nine different variations on tartare. Those sceptical to raw meat need not fret, the seared tartare (named after restaurant critic and smørrebrød aficionado Ole Troelsø) is the perfect introduction – spiced up with cognac, lovage and garnished with horseradish and deep-fried capers. So how many smørrebrød can one eat? Well, according to Schønemann’s: two will lay the foundation, three will make you feel satiated, and four will end the meal with a smile.
Situated right on the idyllic harbour, Sletten is one of those restaurants that never seems to disappoint, and everything from the welcome to dessert flows effortlessly and elegantly – we never doubt that we are in good hands here. Sletten has a constantly changing menu of smaller courses that you can combine as you like according to your level of hunger. Ingredients are locally sourced and the proximity to Øresund is emphasised in the menu. This is the place to enjoy a well-prepared and deeply intense fish soup made from a stock of turbot and lobster, further enhanced by black trumpet mushrooms – as well as an enticing view over fishing boats, the pier and the thatched roofs of the well-preserved Humlebæk houses. Or you could try the fried skate wing with lemon-marinated kale topped with mussels. The food is fresh, colourful and well balanced – this is, after all, the sister restaurant of well-renowned formel B in the city centre. The Danish classic dish “brændende kærlighed” (burning love) is a comforting plate of buttery-soft mashed potatoes, dehydrated and deliciously liquoricey beetroots, crispy ventrèche and delicately prepared sweetbreads. A succulent cut of Iberico secreto is fried to pinkish perfection, and the rosemary ice cream atop a pear cream covered with a crisp almond tuile is a delightfully not-so-sweet ending. The wine list is excellent, and Bourgogne aficionados will surely spend a lot of time poring over what to choose. There is also a good selection of wines by the glass.
Time stands still in the beautiful idyllic surroundings of the open-air museum replicating a historic village, Den Fynske Landsby. Unfortunately, the staff fail to establish an air of authority, comfort and tranquillity around our table, even despite the arrival of tried and true Sortebro Kro classics, such as the straightforward tomato quiche and crisp croquettes of pork with a smoked mayonnaise dip to get us started. Of particular note are the strong wine pairings with the maritime dishes. The Burgundy glasses are filled with a full-bodied, fruity vintage that perfectly accompanies roasted cod garnished with fresh pink salt bombs of lumpfish roe and the concentrated sharp taste of onion disguised as small pickled ramson capers. Also on the plate are diced pickled gherkins and a thick, rich bisque made from the cod’s bones to tie it all together. While the cuisine is excellent, our waiter is a bit robotic as he lists the wine options and leaves the dough for the bread with the oyster dish to rise in a jar on the table before baking. The inn nurtures a great love of baking, as reflected in the bread basket with homemade varieties such as sourdough bread and focaccia.
The beautiful seaside hotel was built on the northern coast of Bornholm in 1911 and has been a source of relaxation and pleasure ever since. Needless to say there is a magnificent view of the Baltic Sea from the restaurant. After a few delicious appetisers and a visually and orally pleasing variety of potatoes and herbs with the appearance of a bird’s nest topped with a quail egg, the next dish is the most satisfying of the evening. A perfectly cooked lobster tail is amazing in a sauce of browned butter with a hint of ginger and soy sauce. The green cabbage leaves on top add a touch of bitterness to perfect the balance of the dish. In our glasses we are served a biodynamic 2014 pinot d’Alsace by Marcel Deiss which turns out to be a flawless match with its full body, slight sweetness and hints of vanilla. Throughout the evening restaurateur, manager and sommelier Henrik Petersen exudes joviality and professionalism and creates a pleasant and warm atmosphere in the entire restaurant. The wine list is the most impressive on the island with a particular fondness for big Burgundies. This time, however, we place our trust in Petersen’s hands by choosing the wine pairings and do not regret it for a second. The great flavours continue with a piece of mackerel with burnt skin in a rich bouillon with a purée of beans topped with aromatic ramsons, which are abundant on Bornholm. The stuffed quail that is up next is juicy and savoury with an intense sauce made with the gizzards, and on the side we find morels, green asparagus and potatoes. The sauce and morels add depth and umami to the dish and the asparagus is crisp and fresh. Yet again the wine match is spot on. Julien Guillot’s Clos de Vignes du Maynes in Burgundy is the oldest practising organic vineyard in France with a history dating back to at least 900 CE. His 2012 “Cuvée Auguste” is made mostly from the rare pinot fin grape, from which pinot noir is descended. It gives us a lovely complexity with notes of blackberries, meadow and citrus fruits, but also some deeper aromas and flavours of spices, soil and minerals. After a dessert with fresh rhubarb, liquorice and white chocolate sorbet bathed in crème anglaise – and Sauternes in our glasses – we look back on an evening with excellent service and atmosphere, and a kitchen that cooks local, quality produce without too much modern experimentation. Stammershalle trustworthily provides you with a soothing sense of old-school well-being.
At Studio, all the aesthetic and material parameters of a meal are attended to with unwavering mastery. Torsten Vildgaard and his incredibly competent staff serve some of the most innovative and delicious Nordic gastronomy in an extremely appealing way. Every time a dish is brought to the table, half of the kitchen staff joins in for the presentation – without ever causing you to feel disturbed or uncomfortable. Rather, it’s as if you are a dinner guest at Vildgaard’s own home. The tightly choreographed open kitchen is another innovative aspect, bolstered by the staff’s attentiveness and respect for guests and their fellow colleagues. With strong roots in Noma’s kitchen, Vildgaard long ago cemented his personal taste profile: bold umami in Nordic ingredients supported by salt and sweetness, nuanced with plenty of acidity, distinctive herbs and berries. Juniper berry seems to be Vidgaard’s signature spice. Pine, juniper berry and thyme form the spine the five rich snacks, including venison tartare with pine oil, herbs and crisp dark rye bread. A small fire of pine needles and juniper bush adds an enticing smell and makes the dish a unique sensory experience. The charcoal-roasted beetroot served with blackcurrants and pickled summer berries is characteristic of the kitchen’s boisterous flavours, elegantly elevated by a rosehip kombucha for those who choose the well-composed juice menu. One of the evening’s highlights in the seven-course menu (preceded by the five snacks and followed by two delightful petits fours) is the poached witch flounder, butchered into sections as if it were a lamb rack. Each little bone is finely cleaned and the fish is cooked with exacting precision, served with pickled onion skins, wild greens, the first ramson shoots of spring, last season’s pickled berries and a wonderful herby buerre blanc. The wine pairings complete the flavour profile, like when celeriac with fermented green strawberries and black truffle is served with a 2013 pinot noir from DuMOL in the Russian River Valley, providing perfect harmony between the acidity and notes of forest floor. A nostalgic, grandmotherly dish is also served, though in a more advanced version: hay-smoked beef cheek in a fatty jus with cabbage. Reflecting the kitchen’s respect for a meal’s composition, this main course is a true crescendo and turning point. The desserts also shine, particularly the final serving of plum compote, plum skin sorbet and plum pit foam, whose marzipan notes mesh perfectly with the creamy brown cheese reminiscent of of dulce de leche. Innovation and originality are united in the meal’s orchestration, making the experience of fine culinary arts at Studio nothing short of extraordinary.
The large windows facing out towards Frederiksgade, the somewhat dilapidated, glossy white-painted floors and the raw oak tables scream bistro, and leather aprons on the waiters, tattoos and long beards play into this style, but the food is exceptionally beyond everyday bistro. We are addressed in a relaxed tone, feel that we are being attentively served, and the presentations are precise with an appropriate degree of detail. The wine list has an affinity for the low-sulphered styles, but with varying degrees of success. We start with finger food in the form of small, soft and chewy Danish tacos with an elegant crab salad, while a small crustade with lumpfish roe gives us a taste of the kitchen’s generally delicate style, with its ultra-light flavours. On the other hand, a brilliantly crisp, precise and tender malted dough quiche with mussels, raw pickled cucumber cubes and kohlrabi packs powerful flavour, but is unfortunately dominated by a cream of smoked fresh cheese. However, Domaine Rietsch’s auxerrois 2015, with its slightly bitter and umami-saturated fullness, tempers the smoke and the two work nicely together. Dry-aged beef (103 days) is featured in the next dish, cut into raw bright-red flakes, over a kind of tartare of cauliflower and Havgus cheese, with a topping of French sorrel. The deep flavours of the dish harken back to the Stone Age, but the acidity is too weak; meanwhile, it’s impossible to determine whether Les Parcelles Tète Nat was chosen because the dish originally had acidity, or due to the sommelier’s wishful thinking. There is no bread with the food, but the bread arrives as its own dish, fried and oil-drenched with powerful flavours and accompanied by a fresh, spring-inspired relish of veg and almonds. It’s light-hearted, delicious and much-needed at this point. Our sommelier demonstrates keenness in the choice of Hervé Villemades Les Souchettes 2015 from Cheverny, a wine with extreme malolactic character; it’s paired with the last season’s Gråsten apples, slow-baked for amplified flavour and topped with caviar of white sturgeon and a divine reduced buttermilk with browned butter. Underneath it all is a relish of pickled fermented beach plants. It’s a memorable, inventive and ingenious dish showcasing fundamental culinary elements in synergy: crunch, softness, creaminess, sweetness, acidity and umami. Two meat dishes – one with sweetbreads and celeriac ragout, and the other with grilled, braised pork breast – demonstrate the same brilliant simplicity, including a sauce of chicken stock and walnut, where the bitter and nearly caramelised sweetness of the walnut support bitter varieties of cabbage on top of the pork. The Jerusalem artichoke caramel with a coconut-like flavour, served with pear cubes and sweet woodruff, is in the same harmonious zenith as the apple-caviar dish. All in all, an adroitly executed orchestration of contrasts.
If there’s one place we dream of dining again, it is Søllerød Kro. Chef Brian Mark Hansen, Restaurant Manager Jan Restorff and the entire crew embrace you with warmth, offering delicious plates displaying their courageous gastronomic endeavours. The foundation of the cuisine is classic in terms of both wine and food, but Hansen and Restorff enchant and thrill us with a meal filled with enjoyment, exploration and surprise. Hansen’s kitchen manages to make caviar, oysters, langoustine, foie gras and pigeon seem bright, light and almost green. Restorff draws on the powers of his skilled nose and his deep insight to weave compelling stories and, with his empathetic understanding of each diner, he presents you with wines you will not soon forget. Take the halibut confit, served on a bed of buerre blanc with yuzu, pomelo, whitefish roe and a sprinkling of nutty fried Jerusalem artichoke and breadcrumbs, paired with the petroleum of a 2014 riesling, Ungeheuer GG, from Von Winning in Pfalz. The wine bores straight into the nutty Jerusalem artichoke and browned butter, while delivering an acidity unintimidated by the citrus fruit. The almost vegetarian dish with slices of celeriac, crisp chicken skin and artichoke balances on crisp, lightly fried water spinach and is topped with a foam of Høost cheese. This delicious serving is elevated to the heavenly by an exquisite burgundy, a 2014 Chassagne-Montrachet from Ramonet. The surprising star of the evening is Søllerød’s meat course, an interpretation of pigeon as a mosaic of perfectly roasted, petite morsels packed in crisp sweetbreads and served with mushroom-morel gelée and a whole stuffed morel. The pigeon has a fresh, light flavour, but is bursting with umami and acidic sweetness from a special “Russian” onion. The whole dish is bolstered by Diego Conterno’s Barolo Ginestra. The desserts at Søllerød Kro are not to be missed. The restaurant is renowned for its excellent pastry kitchen, and Hansen has an innovative style all his own. Symbols and shapes are at work here, so that by the end of the meal you find your senses elevated and attuned to the artistic culinary creations. We sample all five options: mango, yuzu and yoghurt as leaves on an exotic flower; monochrome parsnip in flakes with honey and chamomile; “The Snow Queen’s Tale” with coconut, passion fruit and vanilla; “Well-insulated Green Fantasy” with pistachio, thyme and hay milk; and the brown finale with chocolate, walnuts and arabica. The standout of the five is the pistachio dream, combining crunchy nuts with the creaminess of the biodynamic milk, whose sweetness is spiced up with thyme. The inventive desserts shine even brighter with the Beerenauslese Scheurebe in our glasses, and we conclude that Søllerød Kro offers one of Denmark’s premier dining experiences.
In the scenic confines of one of Denmark’s most iconic villages lies a gem of a low-ceilinged, thatched building that houses one of Denmark’s oldest and most striking inns, Sønderho Kro. Owner-operator Jakob Sullestad shines in his multifaceted role of hospitable host, head chef and restaurant manager – all with great respect for local traditions, the magnificent surrounding nature and the culinary contributions of the Wadden Sea and the island of Fanø. It’s an establishment seeping with history and atmosphere. The welcome snacks are homemade pork rind and baked root veg crisps of blue potato and tapioca, served with a dip of homemade mayo with fermented garlic. Both the menu and the inn’s open wine cellar reveal opportunities to enjoy a variety of selected rarities from leading winemakers. We begin with a crisp, unsulphured biodynamic Follador Prosecco from 2015 with fresh citrus notes in the aroma and palate. Each of the wines proves to be expertly paired with the evening menu’s five courses. The first course is steamed monkfish with creamy meat and a light bite, pickled white asparagus, crisp, thinly sliced fresh rhubarb that adds acidity, and sweet cicely for a touch of anise. Here we enjoy a Dr. Bassermann-Jordan 2015 from Pfalz made with weissburgunder – tight and with good acidity – and, somewhat uncharacteristically for this grape, notes of exotic fruit. New potatoes and pea shoots are topped with a generous portion of fresh lumpfish roe and garnished with herbs and egg yolk confit in rapeseed oil. The dish is an elegant and delicate harbinger of spring. Succulent pollock with a nice, meaty structure is served with steamed spring onions, smoked fresh cheese foam and ground elder, contributing a characteristic flavour reminiscent of parsley. Back and braised shank of lamb prepared to perfection, falling off the bone yet still juicy, is served with potato confit, green asparagus with ash of burnt potato and watercress, whose nutty and slightly piquant flavour adds freshness to the dish. Tender prime rib is aesthetically served with thinly sliced fresh and grilled fennel, fried asparagus, fresh butter-fried thyme and watercress, and a well-executed red wine glaze. The dessert is a fresh and acidic rhubarb compote with rhubarb sorbet, with sweetness from white chocolate mousse and depth from hard liquorice sprinkles – a sublime composition. All of the dishes are served as small works of art on beautiful dinnerware. The hospitality, atmosphere and environment all combine to make you feel like a welcome guest.
Local ingredients have become a matter of course at Denmark’s leading restaurants. But few manage to make local fare such a complete experience as Tabu. We begin with snacks from the Limfjord: poached oysters with a tart crème fraîche, surrounded by parsley gelée. The presentation is aesthetically pleasing, spherical and green, while the dish has a delicate and refreshing taste of the sea. The same flavours are taken up a notch in the next snack, mussels with crisp pickled cucumber, followed by a grilled langoustine with smoked bacon and dried carrot that further increases the intensity of flavours. Perfect-temperature halibut from Skagerak is topped with the year’s first lumpfish roe and covered with a velvety canopy of grilled ramson gelée, giving the dish a creamy texture and the complexity of grilled flavours. The halibut is perfectly balanced, preventing any one of the many delicate flavours from dominating. A cream sauce split with aromatic oil brings it all together, with fresh baby ramson shoots providing a sharp edge and balance. An Italian chardonnay from Friuli proves more than capable of embracing both the delicate lumpfish roe and garlicky ramsons with sufficient fresh acidity and slightly bitter notes. Every wine is well paired, but the presentation is a bit inconsistent, ranging from factual descriptions to more chatty stories; they would benefit from tightening up the ship with a more uniform approach. The dishes are nicely explained by the chefs themselves, with the common thread being a vibrant and personal account of the ingredients’ northern Jutland origins. The in-between course of venison ragout tenderly melts on the palate, garnished by variations of Jerusalem artichoke. Thinly sliced crudités form flower petals around a confited egg yolk, which thickens the bold bouillon flavoured with Jerusalem artichoke and venison. Pickled Jerusalem artichokes add a tart touch, while fresh thyme leaves elevate the dish with a fragrant aroma. In our glasses we have amontillado sherry, a very astute match with fine acidity and walnut tones to accentuate the nutty flavour of the Jerusalem artichokes. On our previous visit to Tabu, we were thrilled. Now the kitchen appears even stronger, with sharper dishes and unique gastronomic storytelling that shines a brilliant spotlight on locally sourced ingredients.
The sound of tambora drums echoed across Copenhagen when Taller opened in 2015. The completely unpredictable, exotic and alternative world of flavours was exactly what gastro-Denmark was lacking. The style remains wild, daring and unusual, but on our visit this year it feels like they have sanded down the edginess. They still cook over a fire in the open kitchen where an old workbench serves as the prep counter. From your shiny copper table you can watch as the food is prepared, and the chefs come out with the dishes when they are ready. The menu features a unique combination of ingredients. Where else would you be served oysters with ham fat, tomatillo and granité made with two types of grapefruit? And when did you last dine on cassava with dulse seaweed, dill, diced fennel and creamy leek mayo? The local Nordic influence, combined with the Venezuelan connection to Chef Karlos Ponte’s homeland is clear in the selection of ingredients. Take, for example, the intense mouthful of meaty flavour in a thinly sliced chayote squash, served as a taco with a filling of braised beef cheek and dried scallop dust. Meanwhile, a Danish octopus sliced into fashionable ribbons is served in a sauce with curuba (aka., banana passion fruit) and deliciously crunchy minced pork rinds. The crisp potato-like olluco, topped at the table with a hollandaise with fermented ants, is also worth noting if only for its unconventionality. But as with a number of servings, the dish lacks sufficient heat and could have benefitted from more flavour. While the food is highly unpredictable, the wine pairings play it much safer. Champagne with snacks is a matter of course, but it appears here in a somewhat disappointing version of three grape varieties from the organic winemaker Bourgeois-Diaz. The other dishes are served with chablis, chardonnay from Jura and two varieties of red Burgundy, all of which are safe food wines. The best pairing is Peter Sisseck’s Psi 2012 from Ribera del Duero, whose red fruit and spiced barrel notes perfectly accompany the dish of lamb fillet rolled in ramson and leek ash with a wonderful bright green guasacaca sauce made with citrus, herbs and chipotle. Restaurant Manager Jacob Lauridsen is not on the floor when we visit, and the wine explanations are sometimes a bit nonsensical. For example, a welschriesling is presented as a type of riesling and dolcetto as Barolo. These errors are quickly forgotten, however, as both the waiters and chefs contribute to a relaxed atmosphere that perfectly matches the spirit of the restaurant. We love the casual rascally mentality of our Irish waiter and we love Taller when the kitchen shatters culinary paradigms for how sour, salty, sweet, bitter or umami-rich a dish can be. But this year’s visit offers fewer of these trademark “wow” moments.
With just over a year under its belt, The Balcony is already firmly established as more than a passing fad with delusions of grandeur. We begin a spring evening in March with a glass of champagne blanc de blancs from Henri Mandois and a rain of snacks. The most memorable ones include the caramelly Jerusalem artichoke purée in its own crisp, fried skin, elegantly presented on a platter of fresh Jerusalem artichokes, and a couple of citrusy oysters with Havgus cheese, served on nitrogen-steaming beach stones. The bar is hereby set for the rest of the evening. A portion of eminently fresh lumpfish roe is joined by a salad of red sorrel and beetroot as crudité, gelée and juice, paired with an archetypical Austrian riesling from Stagård, whose crisp acidity and touch of white pepper make it a perfect partner for the menu’s first course. The flame-grilled halibut of the subsequent course is outshined by its own garnish, which is so brilliant in all its simplicity that it could carry the dish all by itself: sweet, raw Greenlandic shrimp on one side, poached leek from Funen with dill and pickling brine gelée on the other, and a rich fish fumet with dill oil and light liquorice notes, uplifted by a floral vino bianco from Malvirà in Piedmont. The choice of the wine pairings has proven to be a good decision. The wines are sublimely paired and the service is top-notch with Restaurant Manager Kasper Winther at the controls. His deep experience, cultivated through many years at Molskroen and Falsled Kro, is palpable and remarkable. The parade of delectable flavours continues with a fermented cabbage packet with umami-rich mushroom soy sauce, browned butter with hazelnuts, diced apple and a bright green, slightly acidic purée of Granny Smith apple. This vegetarian dish is nicely supported by a delicate orange sauvignon blanc from La Grange aux Belles, Anjou. The ambition is sky-high, and with the skilled Peter Steen Hansen and Anders Jensen in the kitchen at the thermomixer, tweezers and burners, the gourmet quality shines through clearly and precisely. Having enjoyed flawlessly executed luxury from beginning to end, our elation following an evening at The Balcony in Odense comes as no surprise.
For more than 100 years, the crisp white palace in Skodsborg by the sea has housed a wellness centre for the upper class and delicate artistic souls seeking to uplift their wellbeing. With last year’s opening of a new gourmet restaurant named after Head Chef Erik Kroun, the spa hotel’s proud traditions have undergone a striking gastronomic overhaul. We sense this immediately as we tread inside on the soft carpet of the elegantly decorated pavilion with just seven tables and a fabulous view over the waters of Øresund. We are escorted to our seats by the evening’s competent waiter duo, headed by Restaurant Manager Martin Troelsen, who provides superb service – equal parts responsive, knowledgeable and highly attentive. The evening opens with Billecart-Salmon bubbling on our palates, and the Bee Gees in our ears, as we admire the magnificent wooden chandeliers hovering high above our heads. We choose the full menu, whose tongue-in-cheek Danish name is akin to “full blast”. First comes the obligatory salvo of starters. The last one, an onion soup that is to die for, has so much umami and intense poultry flavour that it almost runs circles around the first course, a small and round beauty in New Nordic robes: cured pollock topped with crisp slices of black radish and small dabs of lemon and dill on top. The lemon encroaches on the delicate richness of the fish, amplifying the taste of the sea. A little sprinkling of toasted oats adds complexity with delicious dry firmness, while a young, flinty chablis perfectly flanks the dish’s discrete notes with citrus aroma and succulent acidity. A truly elegant opening. Kroun’s tribute to Danish classics – a theme throughout the evening – continues with the next dish. A freshly caught female lumpfish arrives at the table, opened wide to reveal the year’s first mild, saltwatery lumpfish roe, arranged directly from the fish onto potato blinis with homemade crème fraîche, chopped red onion and chives: an ode to simplicity and sublime ingredients. White Burgundy from Leflaive is just about to out-manoeuvre the taste of the delicate roe, but the butter-fried blini grabs hold of the wine’s buttery notes at the last moment, saving the day for a perfect landing. The quality of the wine pairing menu with the food is outstanding throughout the evening, so we decide to stick with the pairings rather than venturing on our own through the otherwise extensive and impressive wine list. Another example is a mineral Chassange-Montrachet with smoked butter in the nose, served with a smoked scallop in beurre blanc with Baerii caviar: a perfect pairing with yet another creamy and refined dish, accentuating Kroun’s seasonal hotel cuisine as one of Greater Copenhagen’s leading culinary comfort zones. It’s cuisine that never goes against the grain, liberated from technical grandstanding and strict dogma; in almost Italian-like fashion, it pays homage to simplicity and delicious flavour with sublime ingredients, while delivering with great precision. The Restaurant By Kroun is not overwhelmingly avant-garde, but it is top-class neoclassical retro fare.
Since 2001, Ti Trin Ned (“Ten Steps Down”) has been a culinary oasis in Fredericia under the whitewashed vaulted ceilings of the former fermentation cellar of a distillery. White damask tablecloths, Wegner chairs and golden designer lamps create an unpretentious elegance, and the staff demonstrate a finely-tuned ability to maintain relaxed precision in their presentation. This isn’t the place to come for avant-garde provocation, but for classic craftsmanship and cuisine with roots in the local soil. We begin with snacks that come from the restaurant’s own farm outside of Fredericia: honey-glazed carrots sprinkled with fruity blackcurrant powder, Jerusalem artichoke skins filled with a luxurious cream of truffle oil and sunflower seeds, and delicate kohlrabi slices folded as dumplings around pungent sauerkraut. “Fish sticks” made of bakskuld (salted and smoked witch flounder) and cod are perfectly crisp and salty, while a meatball with malted barbeque sauce is umami heaven-on-a-stick. It’s an impressively promising start. We are paying our visit in the midst of darkest February, when kale is the first – and only – harbinger of spring. The kitchen bravely serves four variations – purée, powder, leaves and kale sausage crumble – with poached cod from nearby Skærbæk Bay. The seaweed-like intensity of the powder and a metallic tingle on the palate is counterbalanced by the acidity of a classic Danish “grandmother dressing” (traditionally made with heavy cream, lemon, sugar, salt and pepper). It’s a beautiful and honest interpretation of the season. The fine art of constructing a dish from many elements with a unified result is on display throughout the evening. Tartare of salt-baked beetroot is served with horseradish cream, sour gherkin gelée, shredded duck breast and ramson capers; it almost tastes like kimchi. It’s superbly composed and the cool fruit of a 2015 Planeta from Sicily’s Etna region is a competent pairing. The wine list sticks mainly to Europe, and the menu’s pairings are not from the hipster cellar, but sure-as-Sherlock prove masterful. Of particular note is Château de Montifaud’s Pineau des Charentes, where faint alcoholic strawberry notes are superb with the butter ice cream, parsnip purée and sour plum. But prior to that comes the main course: fillet of beef with bordelaise; a classic dish from a classic cut of beef. The sauce is silky-smooth and beefed-up with bone marrow, while the meat from Grambogård finds fresh contrasts in the crisp garlic and pickled celeriac. The dish is like a decadent reward for our Protestant journey through the empire of cabbage. Ti Trin Ned excels at both classic craftsmanship and seasonal vegetable-based cuisine. Sometimes we find ourselves wishing that the kitchen would aim more for ultra simple but daring dishes, such as the sublime sorbet served as our pre-dessert, made with birch sap from the restaurant’s own farm, but no one can dispute what the couple behind this establishment has achieved: 16 years with international honours, the affinity of the local community and a kitchen deserving of its prominent standing in the world of Danish gastronomy.
With wide balconies stretching up the multi-storey facade, Vejle’s Hotel Munkebjerg most of all resembles an Austrian guesthouse where you could expect watered-down bier vom fass and Wiener Schnitzel the size of manhole covers, but make no mistake: the hotel’s ambitious Tree Top restaurant is headed by Columbian-born Bryan Francisco – crowned by White Guide as the 2016-17 Rising Star – with his acclaimed fusion cuisine, where distinct Asian flavours and techniques meet European classics. A well-established tradition at Tree Top is washing down the first wave of snacks under the vaulted ceilings of the wine cellar with Munkebjerg’s house champagne from Charles Gardet. The highlight of this opening heat is the puffed rice crisps with saffron dust, served on a bonsai tree and accompanied by bakskuld mayo – a serving whose eclectic components and fine balance of richness, fish, smoke, crunch and saffron aroma exemplify Francisco’s crossover philosophy. Upon arrival at the restaurant’s dining room, we are delighted by the freshness of the air and the peaceful, almost recording-studio-like calm that only occasionally is interrupted by a couple of crackling chirps from the flames of the open fireplace in the corner. We are served throughout the evening by a team of five waiters who take turns presenting the drinks and food in an informative and welcoming, but predominantly formal tone. The strongest dishes of the evening are the maritime and innovative servings rooted in fusion cuisine. A slider on a corn flour bun filled with succulent pulled duck and kimchi is a superb manifestation of respect for ingredients where less is more. The mini-burger is accompanied by a young, dry Mosel riesling from Weingut Schmitges; the pairing is a delicate reminder that riesling and fermented foods dance in unison like Fred and Ginger. The fusion spectacle continues with raw tuna, marinated in various citrus juices, with yuzu, sesame and freshly picked coriander: a transparent ceviche-inspired dish where each element comes through clearly on its own, yet accentuates and supports each other. We make a brief descent to Earth with a cut of beef tenderloin wrapped in various beetroot textures, accompanied by a glass of Châteauneuf-du-Pape with a little age. It is an intensely violet-coloured dish, and although the earthy tone of the beetroot variations mesh nicely with the wine’s oaked notes and the crisp Maillard symphony of the beef, the innovation altimeter falls to more ordinary heights here. But, overall, Tree Top impresses.
The “U” dances above “formel” in the logo, reflecting the connotative U-turn from “formal” to “informal” in Danish. The dancing letter may also reflect the central role of musicality in formel B’s precocious sister establishment. Such tactful and carefully choreographed sensory indulgence is rarely seen in this price class, invitingly and seductively executed to the smallest detail in this cosy cave bedecked with heavy curtains, sparkling golden facades, dark velvet and glowing lamps. The waiters exude attentiveness and a desire to serve. You are the centre of the universe. The tempo is fast-paced, but this suits the overall atmosphere, as does the music. Our first course of four arrives from the “An informal experience” menu, which naturally offers choices ranging from oysters to pork rinds and other whimsical snacks. In the first dish we expect the lobster to be overpowered by the highly acidic tomato vinaigrette, but it proves to be the perfect contrast to the wild flavour of the fresh, red-white meat. Dill is given the opportunity to stand out here with its deep green colour and intense aromatic flavour. The ice-cold thin slab of frozen crème fraîche with ramsons releases its fat as it melts on the palate, elevating the dish’s acidity. There is also crunch and deep umami from dried strips of kelp. It’s truly liberating when culinary techniques are presented in such an understated and mature way, without showing off. The same can be said of the wines, which are presented with great passion and typically stem from close partnerships with the natural winemakers themselves. We enjoy a classic Loire in our glasses: a chenin blanc from Agnès & René Mosse, which starts with intensely sweet yellow fruits then, as it opens, has nutty notes that tame the many coy flavours of the lobster dish. The city’s unruly culinary pulse is beating strong at Studiestræde 68.
A summer pavilion overlooking the water casts its golden light on Varna as the staff welcome the diners. We are escorted to the foyer and bestowed with a glass of bubbles. The evening begins in style with a bold serving of snacks to properly pave the way with lobster, an array of dips, breaded minced chicken, puffed sago grains, toasted nuts, grissini and foie gras terrine. Professionalism is a virtue here, as one indulgence follows the other. A huge slice of seared foie gras – the signature ingredient of legendary Aarhusian chef Palle Enevoldsen – balances on a bed of duck rillettes, applesauce and fried brioche topped with raspberry foam. Protein is not in short supply here, nor in the subsequent serving of cured cod. The cuisine predominantly features heavy brown sauces and is umami-packed, but generally lacks acidity. The parade of meat culminates in roasted pork tenderloin with braised cheek of pata negra pork, chestnuts, beetroot and lingonberry sauce. It’s fortunate that our uniquely talented wine server, drawing on excellent presentation and selection skills, finds a 2011 Langhe nebbiolo from Giovanni Almondo to stand up to the intense flavour of the pork, as well as a fresh and memorable pinot noir, Ara Pathway from Marlborough, New Zealand. The transition from meat to sweet fails to please with over-sweetened fried cladonia lichen on an extremely mature Gnalling cheese from Arla Unika. These flavours are offset with a chocolate bar with passion fruit and mango that frolics with a sweet Saussignac wine called Vendanges d’Autrefois. We are certainly being pampered, but we are not on a journey of experimentation and discovery. Varna is a lovely establishment with safe bets and superb service.
At Vendia, they call a part of the restaurant a brasserie, but the term is more a reflection of North Jutlandic modesty. The dishes served here would unabashedly be sold as gourmet at other restaurants, and the professional and accommodating service is at a corresponding level. The menu is divided into a Danish tasting menu and a traditional French brasserie menu. The Danish starters include a succulent and tender cut of pork breast, roasted perfectly so that the deliciously crisp and caramelised crust evokes dreams of summer and slow-grilled spareribs. But looking at the calendar or out the window, it is clearly winter, so the pork is joined by seasonal cabbage in an acidic and well-spiced mustard vinaigrette and slightly sticky gastrique. The flavours are intense and well adjusted, and the presentation is aesthetically inviting. The French part of the menu also allows the kitchen’s acumen to shine through. The steak is perfectly seared and the béarnaise precisely seasoned, while the accompanying silky soft and bold carrot purée and butter-steamed vegetables with a good crisp bite to them make this familiar classic even more appealing. A glass of grenache with a dark, fruity intensity and herbal notes is a proper chaperone for the steak and béarnaise, and the other wine pairings are also apt. The dessert menu features a reinterpretation of rum soufflé served in a splintery crisp shell of dark chocolate with vanilla ice cream, raisins, toasted almonds and raisin purée, all of which buttress the taste of rum. The creative juggling of flavours evident in every dish makes this “brasserie” an excellent dining choice.
The concept at Vendia brewery’s gourmet restaurant shifts annually. This year the restaurant marks its ten-year anniversary with a series of greatest hits from the hand of Chef Kristian Rise. Our snacks begin with an item from the 2014 menu, whose theme was Danish smørrebrød. The most interesting snack is the “egg sandwich” – Vendia's new interpretation – comprised of thin slices of scallop and avocado, brushed with nut oil and topped with caviar. It’s a far cry from the traditional serving, but the fine salty sea notes are elegantly supported by the richness of the dish, while the combination of flavours and textures is spot-on. The first course is brown crab under a thin layer of cauliflower panna cotta, while the edges of the plate are adorned with a colourful array of cauliflower crudité, green cabbage leaves and small romanesco bouquets. The flavours are nicely balanced between the crab and the slightly bittersweet cabbage, but the latter rather overwhelms the smaller portion of crab. The kitchen’s creations are all exacting in precision and thoroughly aesthetic, showing technical expertise in preparation and seasoning, while the service upholds an equally high standard of professionalism. Each dish is accompanied by a short explanation of the idea and source, and the wines are presented with well-chosen and precise words. One of the evening’s highlights, dubbed “infantile”, is a collection of baby ingredients. Miniature carrots and baby corn shoot up from the base of the dish, which is comprised of carrot purée, barely warm langoustine and roe of lumpfish, herring and vendace. A multitude of interesting textures entertain the palate: the soft bite of langoustine, the effervescent roe and the crisp, light crunch of the baby vegetables. A rich lobster sauce gives the dish excellent depth to go along with the immature ingredients. A German riesling trocken in our glasses has the residual sweetness needed to embrace the langoustine and carrots, and its fresh acidity exquisitely brings the flavours together. The gourmet restaurant, which is only a small part of the brewery’s facility, is housed in a small room without windows. Although the ethanol fireplace lights the place up and jazz plays in the background, the surroundings lack the aesthetic details to keep up with the high level of the kitchen and service staff. After ten years at the top of northern Jutland gastronomy, Kristian Rise’s razor-sharp cuisine shows no signs of fatigue.
This is among the first lacto-vegetarian restaurants in Denmark, and it is rare to see a top-level restaurant that does not serve meat or eggs. Sound boring or self-righteous? Well, not when a master of interpretation and restaurant entrepreneurship such as Henrik Yde is behind the venture. Much as his Kiin Kiin took Thai street food to gastronomic heights more than a decade ago, Yde has set up shop in the new Langelinie district with plans of doing the same for vegetarian fare. Veve is housed in a raw but inviting room with soft chairs. It’s a thoroughly classic serving style with new creations in vegetarian cuisine, making guests feel that they are amongst the upper echelons of gastronomic excellence. Both the kitchen and the floor are staffed with competent and experienced professionals, but this is not necessarily evident in the prices, which are rock bottom considering the restaurant’s level. Yde is known for his creative snacks, a reputation he solidifies at Veve. We are treated to wonderful onion skin chips, vegetarian “meringue” with chickpea/soybean water, and nutty balls filled with lemongrass cream that taste like a crispy bite of Asia. Four dishes stand out: the Waldorf salad is an elegant crossover between Danish, Asian and American. Crisp flakes of Danish apples, sugar-baked walnuts and celery are topped with a sharp and mild sweet and sour chilli sauce, apple granité, crème fraîche, apples and celery. A blissful pairing of Peter Lauer’s riesling from Saar in our glasses touches on the same apple notes. Salt-baked celeriac is fashionably carved at the table and is perfectly al dente with uninhibited loads of herb butter: a fantastic dish full of salt and herbs. The aroma of Provence succeeds the celeriac, as the kitchen evokes magical tomato intensity from a baked tomato perforated with rosemary and completed by a bold glass of rojal from Bernabé. The wine list is generally more narrative than dogmatic, with many excellent pairings, including the pinot noir served with mushroom soup, which delivers a full blast of umami to mark the meal’s turning point. After that, diners are served a soft and pleasant applesauce with cream and crisp topping, which leads to the final act, featuring amusing petits fours resembling spices with a good, fruity coffee. We leave satiated, both in body and soul. The common thread at Veve is vegetable-based cuisine without fanatic devotion to any one corner of the globe, putting Yde once again at the trendsetting forefront. Veve heralds a fascinating new green era in Danish gastronomy.
Villa Vest is exactly where it always has been: right on the edge of the North Sea with a view that is equal parts heavens and sea. Few places does one feel so close to the sea as when sitting in the bright restaurant and taking in the undisturbed, endless expanse stretching to the horizon. As the sun shines through the windows, the first snacks land on our table. Among these are a dried, razor-thin and crispy cabbage leaf that crunches between the teeth and serves as a resting spot for dollops of acidic herb mayo, and slices of dried lamb from owner Kim Møller-Kjær’s own herd. Symphonic mouthfuls delight with the sweetness of the cabbage, acidity of the mayo and umami from the lamb. The snacks are followed by an appetiser with slices of white asparagus resting in the juices of a sourdough, providing a distinctively complex acidity and depth from the grain. The asparagus cuts through the dish as a crunchy and fresh contrast, while rosehip oil delivers faint aromatic nuances. The menu changes according to the seasonal ingredients in supply; on this visit, oysters are part of the starter. The plate is adorned with a circular blanched leaf of pointed cabbage, brushed with a parsley paste in an attractive green colour scheme. Hiding beneath the leaf is an oyster mayo, gooseberry compote and fine bites of grilled oysters. It’s an excellent, well-balanced dish, where the mayo and the freshness of gooseberries buttress the consistency and fresh sea flavour of the oysters. The cabbage leaf has the right texture to give the dish fullness and character, while a dashi-inspired cabbage juice with seaweed adds additional deep and complementary taste notes. The dish is accompanied by an eminent oyster wine made from the German gutedel grape, whose sturdy acidity and distinctive minerality mesh pleasantly with the light metallic notes of the oyster. Kim Møller-Kjær has consistently chosen good, harmonious wines for the pairings, and he masters the role of restaurant host with effortless elegance. He pays a visit to every table throughout the evening, reciting anecdotes with his warm, infectious humour, which permeates the atmosphere of the room. The main course is a slow-grilled pork breast with variations of beetroot. The pickled beet has a penetrating acidity that would be too biting on its own, but in combination with the rich and fatty pork it finds a nice balance. The pork also comes from Møller-Kjær’s own herd, taking the trend of local ingredients to a new level with an owner who brings his own animals to work. With a kitchen that presents subtle innovation featuring Northern Jutlandic ingredients, the villa by the sea is in top form from the very start of the season.
With over 100 Masters Level restaurants, the Nordic countries offer a wide variety of excellent culinary experiences. The Top 30 are all at the Global Masters level and they include some of the best restaurants in the world.