There’s a river and it flows from the springs of Lapland. It’s crystal clear and it’s called the Juutua, one of many where fly fishermen swing their lines and catch the freshest of fish. The snow is pure white and the people are, shall we say, on their guard, but friendly nonetheless. Lapland is the land of shamans and it is at the kitchen altar of Heikki Nikula that we worship tonight, at Aanaar Restaurant in the Kultahovi Hotel where Sami culture and cuisine gets a rare chance to shine. His artistry comes in a rainbow of pink, orange, green and white, with some hairy brown stuff on top that we eye with suspicion. It’s ’naava’ or hanging moss, found on nearby trees – a testament to the clean air that reindeer find irresistible. It melts in our mouths, adding texture and an earthiness to this succulent starter of lightly smoked reindeer hearts, horseradish yoghurt and sweet marinated vegetables. Johanna Fabritius is in charge of the beverages and like the chef she has her own bag of tricks, combining food with beer, cocktails and wine. The house version of Finland’s famous Napue gin comes with angelica syrup, an ingredient we will come across again on this menu. It’s made from the hardy aromatic flowering herb angelica, that grows as far north as Iceland and Greenland. The main course is pike caught by Inari fishermen and turned into the lightest of fluffy white balls flavoured with a touch of lemongrass. Though the latter is not from this region we give them a break because it adds acidic, fresh interest to a dish that might otherwise be quite bland. The fish balls are accompanied by yellowish beurre blanc and cerise beetroot mousse with a hit of vinegar. We wash all of this down with a Yealands Riesling – clean, pure and unadulterated like the river flowing by. Dessert is aptly called “Snowball”. The bowl is too small for the lingonberry-filled scoop of yoghurt ice cream with angelica syrup and crunchy sweet meringue slices on the side. As we leaf through the menu, it’s evident that people from all over the world visit this magical place and that special care is taken to accommodate frequent visitors. In the heart of Sápmi, from true Sami people, comes this warm welcome.
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.
In December the farm that previously housed Ambiance à Vindåkra was transformed into one of Malmö’s most outspoken New Nordic restaurants. Heading it up is the Danish-Swedish duo Sven Jensen and Alexander Fohlin who previously worked with Nordic pioneers like Thomas Drejing and Claus Meyer. The concept is perfect for the little farmhouse with its wooden beams, whitewashed walls and crackling fire – a cross-fertilization of an inn in Skåne and an urban Copenhagen restaurant, where the frugally Nordic meets the generosity of Skåne. The flavour spectrum they create here (often with the help of brown butter and sweetness) is rounder and more approachable – without sacrificing exciting wild-picked, self-harvested or pickled ingredients. A good example is the fine, foresty tartare of coarsely diced perch fillet with fried oak moss, blackberry elixir, preserved blackberries, brown butter and samphire. Or the extremely tasty little amuse-bouche of poached, mashed, dried, and finally fried Jerusalem artichoke that is used to scoop up a fresh buttermilk panna cotta topped by bleak roe. In a Nordic “spring roll” sugar beets from the fields outside have been simmered for several hours, sliced and softly pan-fried to form a housing that encloses liquorice cress, goat's cheese and black garlic. Black truffle and poppy seeds top the creation and the nutty seeds play elegantly together with the orange wine from the Swedish-French vineyard, Mas Zenitude. Our palates delight in a lukewarm buttery brioche in a nest of warm wheat kernels served with a chilli-rimmed, air-dried slice of pork’s neck and pickled sea buckthorn. The same thing goes for the precisely cooked local pork with a sabayon flavoured with blanched black pepper and Finnish tar syrup. The wines are well chosen from a selection of natural wines and the non-alcoholic beverage pairings are innovative. SAV is quite simply creative joy on all fronts – and extremely affordable considering the level of cooking.
Sentralen has been open for a year, and it’s been a success from day one. The team behind it are called “Lava Oslo” – the fantastic four of the Oslo food scene – and they continue to create wondrous new dishes. Sentralen lies in the middle of Kvadraturen (“the quadrature”), a district formerly known for its courtesans and as a marketplace for those who lean toward self-medication. Today it is a whole other story and now, with this grand house of family entertainment, kids are flooding the streets and making it a safe place even for those who are easily scared. The old bank has been emptied of all its cold, hard cash and filled with soft values: good food and fine wines. The restaurant has a big open kitchen and a tall wine cabinet filled with the best from minimal-intervention producers around the world. The bread served here is made by Handwerk, a recently opened sourdough bakery. It has less of the old tradition, and more of the style of San Fran’s Tartine Bakery, with a charred almost black crust, a moist crumb and sports a mouth-watering acidity. The new classic, smoked beetroot tartare, is a nice way to take something as mundane as a beetroot and make it shine like a star. With a little help from horseradish and egg yolk, it’s as good as or even better than a traditional tartare. Next up, a bare-naked broccoli stalk is served with butter and broccoli cream – it’s as delicious at it is simple. A macerated Sancerre is a good choice, and because it has been macerated with its skin, it even stands up to the meatier things to come. The beef “tartare” is quickly seared before it is hand cut and dressed in pickled green strawberries, egg and Jerusalem artichoke chips. King crab, roasted in its shell with a Nordic spice blend including chervil and ramsons, is a greasy feast. It lacks some form of edible sponge to mop up all that delicious juice from the plate, but there is no shame here in using your finger to get it all. A potato pillow filled with Holtefjell XO, the go-to cheese of Norwegian chefs these days, is a cheeky take on gnocchi. The soft inner texture perfectly matches the pillowy exterior and the cheese's broad umami notes reveal why Holtefjell XO is called the Parmesan of the north. Sentralen is a cultural hotspot and still the best choice for a decent lunch in Oslo.
Shibumi is the Platonic ideal of an urban restaurant. Because of the format, and to a great extent the professional and well-informed staff, it can transform into exactly what you want it to be. True to the izakaya form, there is a bar with beer, well-shaken Asian twists on cocktails and finger food, but Shibumi’s range also extends to intimate date dinners, a foodie experience with carefully conceived sake matches, and friend or business dinners with an endless stream of share plates. It’s a pretty impressive feat. And despite the chameleon qualities that satisfy virtually everyone who walks through the door, the food at Shibumi is far from middle-of-the-road. Not, you understand, when it’s Sayan Isaksson who holds the reins. The salmon tartare in its little wooden box is a crowd pleaser we never tire of, with popping trout roe, sesame mayo and crispy rice paper, it is an explosion of flavour with lots of interesting textural play as a bonus. We prefer to sit in the bar and watch over the chefs as they assemble the most minutely prepared small dishes, grating fresh-smelling wasabi root on top and charring the ultra-fresh fish with a gas burner when it needs a little charred juxtaposition. Though fish occupies nearly half the menu, there are also deeply satisfying meat and vegetable dishes. Like flowersprouts, the trendy relative of Brussels sprouts which, after a turn in the deep fryer, delivers a crunchy cabbagey-ness. Gauzy katsuboshi flakes break up the oiliness. A Japanese “taco” containing tender braised short rib with homemade chilli paste and pickled cucumber disappears in a flash, though it’s somewhat one-dimensionally sweet. The skewered chicken hearts with fermented chilli paste is a more exciting choice with its delicious sweet-hot kick, as are the masterful gyoza dumplings. Have we eaten better ones in Stockholm? Probably not, even though dumplings have suddenly become commonplace. Shibumi’s version is crisp-fried on one side and the dough is perfectly paper-thin. The gingery ground pork inside is airy and juicy, and it comes with an extra-zippy ponzu sauce that contains aged red wine vinegar. And the desserts? We fall once again head over heels for the uber-charming small ice cream cones with the buttery, caramelly variation on miso. The bill is almost a joy to pay; it’s hard to imagine more bang for your buck.
Regardless of whether cruel autumn winds or balmy summer breezes are blowing out by Gothenburg’s inlet, it is solace for the soul to step into this beautifully renovated restaurant in the East India Company’s old warehouse. The welcome is warm and heartfelt, every detail is thought out and the rough-timbered walls create a cosy nostalgic charm. As soon as we sit down at the table it is clear that our hosts are Gothenburg’s – if not Sweden’s – most successful pair of restaurant workhorses, Ulf Wagner and Gustav Trägårdh. With the former at the helm and the latter in the kitchen, they run a well-oiled machine, focused on the total experience. The algae crispbread with subtle sea notes in the amply filled breadbasket sets the tone. Autumn is the season for both game and lobster, so a tender moose tartare has been given a lovely sounding board of lobster emulsion while tart apple and toasted hazelnuts create much needed contrast in terms of taste and texture. A semi-dry riesling from the Mosel matches nicely with its fruity, mineral notes. We continue with an absolutely brilliant cod loin, first cured and then poached to perfection. The creation is enthroned upon mixed cabbages in a foamy oyster sauce with a nice saltiness and crowned with freshly grated truffle. The flavours are finely tuned and let the fish play throughout his register. With a mighty piece of pan-fried turbot, however, the kitchen has thrown all finesse overboard and brought forth heavy artillery in the form of potato gnocchi, mushrooms and sweetbreads, all seasoned with tarragon. It’s rich, bordering on rustic, but it works. Even though the matching beaujolais struggles a bit. The delightful almond and pistachio cake with plums poached in port wine is still impossible to abstain from, but the tonka bean panna cotta that comes with it leaves us rather unmoved. At Sjömagasinet they are not only masters at combining ingredients on the plate - they also know how to match those combinations with the right beverage, and they do so with knowledge, charm and individuality. It is not easy to successfully navigate this flagship between the luxurious and the popular, tradition and innovation, but the gentlemen do it with honour.
At the very moment we step inside the door a cook begins browning butter. The smell! The sound! Isn’t this cheating? The sweet caramel aroma that fills the dining room naturally adds an additional dimension to the warmth, the atmosphere and the light that so nicely frames SK. We sit in the lower part of the dining room, where the pastry chef works at his kitchen island. In the upper dining room you look instead straight into the warm open kitchen. The cooks seem to thrive in the open exposure – they smile, cheer and come out with the food themselves. Choose between four, six or eight dishes on the long tasting menu – or order from the à la carte section. This is a high-class restaurant, but it never gets too fancy. They open at 5 o’clock and stay open late, so you can drop in for something quick – or devote an entire evening here. Either way, you can’t go wrong. Nor can you go wrong with the fermented, planed, puréed and fried celeriac, a perfect contrast to the salty-sweet, gently cured rainbow trout roe that clatters and pops around in your mouth. The hard-blackened, cured striploin with smoked mayonnaise, crispy pieces of winter apples and spring radishes offers nice contrasts. Except for the radishes, the kitchen follows along with the changing seasons. On our visit in early winter was dominated by root vegetables, cabbage, mushrooms and game. Overall the flavours are intense and a challenge for the sommeliers. They tend to match-make with well-known producers, but it’s the more unusual and artisanally produced wines to which we raise our glasses. Serving the white vermentino from the Italian red wine producer La Spinetta, with the rainbow trout roe, is typical, for example. But the best match is the one between the syrah grapes from Cornas and Domaine Vincent Paris and the tender, red wild duck that combines elegantly with mayonnaise made from toasted rapeseed oil, steamed cabbage and crunchy hazelnuts. If we should whine about something it’s the truly mediocre breadbasket. In the end, we are where our visit began – right beside that browning butter which, it turns out, is to fry the brioche that is served with a cloudberry compote and vanilla ice cream. Simple and so good. At SK the atmosphere is genial, generous and personalised, exactly what restaurateur Stefan Karlsson himself is so good at engendering.
A bit off the beaten path in downtown Tromsø, Eva-Linda and Espen Ramnestedt have reopened their acclaimed restaurant Smak (Taste), previously located in Bodø, some nine hours to the south by car. Starting all over again, they have tailored everything to their needs. With just eight tables, a small wine lounge, a chef’s table and a beautiful custom-made open kitchen, Smak is ready to revitalize the town. Both Eva-Linda and Espen are trained chefs, but Espen manages the kitchen while Eva-Linda takes care of the dining room, complementing his cooking with her hospitality. Espen uses modernist techniques blended with classic cooking to coax heartfelt flavors out of great ingredients. Eva-Linda’s warmth makes the diners relax and her passion for great wine makes any evening complete. As our meal starts off with a selection of snacks and champagne, we feel the devotion they’ve put into the restaurant. It’s immediately evident in the food that arrives: a thin crispy sheet of fennel is topped with Finish caviar and sour cream from Avdem Gardsysteri, and a potato waffle comes with Swedish vendace roe. A classic oxtail ragù is topped with lacto-fermented celeriac and a soft chicken liver pâté matched with sourdough and truffle snow. A serving of green asparagus, sweetbreads and quail egg makes us dream of spring, and their creamy and pristine fish soup made out of rose fish, lobster and carrots is a knockout in a town where fish soups are essential to the local food identity. Our meat course of beef cheeks takes the meal to a more rustic place, though we feel that some of the other dishes this evening could have been a bit simpler, with fewer components on the plate. The desserts are a show of technique, first with a delicious sorbet made out of Nýr cheese, then a dark chocolate parfait. The hand-brewed coffee and the box of petit fours is a great ending to the meal. Smak’s relocation to the town of Tromsø is a game-changer for the local restaurant industry and we hope its revival will lure the locals out of their homes on a regular basis. We, at least, will certainly return.
A richly aromatic juice of blue grapes from the garden is one of the non-alcoholic surprises. Another is a milk drink from Järna, shaken with coffee beans and orange peel. Delicious. The milk drink is served with a ganache with lingonberries and a meringue flavoured with fennel and caraway. Possibly caraway and fennel leads to thoughts of aquavit, but that is also the only association we get to spirits. In other words, it’s a shame that the restaurant has such a misleading name. Namely because some of Sweden’s best non-alcoholic beverages are served here – and those that do contain alcohol are far removed from the spirit world. It starts with a sweet-sour non-alcoholic sprattelsaft made from rowanberries served with a snack of fried cabbage with pickled radish. It’s an excellent combo, and the “alco-hol”alternative, biodynamic Gelber Muskateller from Steirerland in Austria, marries equally well. The most spectacular beverage serving, however, is a tea carefully prepared at the table using a piece of fermented teacake from 2012. The deep earthy forest notes are in complete symbiosis with a dish of grilled celery tops, wild ramson capers, funnel chanterelles and currants in varying stages of maturity. Chef Petter Nilsson has a confident palette and a creative handle on vegetables. Some of it is extremely daring, like in three black lumps on a plate: a fermented garlic clove, a baked beetroot and a charred baked radicchio. Three shades of black with deep, mouth-filling flavours in different textures. Entertaining, especially with a nice piece of lamb tenderloin. The focus on craft beer and modern natural wines is brilliant. A chenin blanc from Domaine Mosse in Loire has deep fatty notes and wild honey aromas that make the lobster ravioli filled with goat's cheese almost explosive when it meets the lobster broth with kombu seaweed. The beverages are managed by Hanna Lilja, who has been schooled by her predecessor, Erika Lindström. A Macon Rouge pinot noir brings out the muted root vegetable flavours in a dish with zander, grilled turnips and bottarga. With its superior drinks and one of Stockholm’s most interesting menus, a visit to Spritmuseum is one museum experience whose experimental exhibits are sure to entertain.
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.
Bent Stiansen’s Statholdergaarden is still turning out plates of artistry, and his young team is fine-tuned to meet the growing competition among Oslo’s great dining establishments. A carpeted staircase leads to extravagant rooms with elaborately decorated wooden trim, ceiling rosettes, carpeting and art: classic luxury. Statholdergaarden has more in common with the posh restaurants of Paris than the rustic New Nordic establishments of Oslo. Yet in spite of the white tablecloths and formal service, it’s relaxed and jovial. The cuisine is firmly rooted in French techniques, but borrows innovations from more contemporary sources. There are many choices at Statholdergaarden: à la carte, today’s menu, or the full tasting menu. Dinner kicks of with a parade of starters – the fried sweetbreads are soft and juicy inside and topped with a dill emulsion; a lingonberry meringue is crowned with a duck liver parfait; bøkling (smoked herring) comes with fermented slices of celeriac; and, lastly, a shellfish stock and pickled halibut. Within minutes we devour the homemade sourdough bread with two butters – one with porcini powder, and another from Røros. The combo of the mushroom butter with the fennel bread is our favourite. The scallops from Frøya come in the company of fresh green peas, yellow beet and a beetroot sauce cut with herb oil. Turbot, the great king of flat fish, is served with pickled onions and a fried piece of turbot fat, onion purée, and a velouté of Turbot, broken with chervil oil. We clean our palates with a granité of rhubarb before we move on to the carnivore section. Veal from Jæren comes from the high-quality meat-producing district in south-western Norway. The veal is so undercooked in the middle that, if pieced back together, it could probably be electrified back to life, but it has a delicious taste and nice, light chewiness to it. The baked sweet celeriac, carrot purée and the red onions together with a sauce of morels go so well with the veal, we would believe them if they told us that the vegetables actually grew alongside the animal. The dessert is a grandiose ending, and a showcase of technique. With a perfect balance of bitter dark chocolate, the citrusy orange croquant, sweet chocolate mousse and an acidic fluffy Italian lemon meringue, we want to order this dessert again and again. A miniature tree arrives decorated with rose meringue, coffee chocolate and orange marzipan to end the meal. Stadtholdergaarden shows great form, with food that makes us smile and the kind of service that ensures that you leave happier than when you came.
You can now find a little piece of unadulterated French gastronomy in the heart of Malmö. Karim Khouani has left Tygelsjö to compete with the more urban Malmö restaurants in Sture’s classic (and newly renovated) restaurant premises. The combination of the hundred-year-old decor, the simple door partition that breathes cool grey luxury, and the open kitchen convey a sense of elegance. For SEK 950, you get seven dishes, six snacks and an abundance of petit fours. In this era of experimental fermentation, it is almost a relief to be served perfectly cooked lamb, or a piece of turbot that falls apart in beautiful flakes. The finesse lies in the precision of the cooking and the small, light-green shroud that envelops the lamb tenderloin in sage and tarragon. The lamb is served with the season’s local vegetables – either breaded and pan-fried, or puréed – so there is also balance in the textures. Generous amounts of black winter truffle further anchor the French flavour profile. A buttery tender king crab is wrapped in parchment-thin lardo and topped with a small dollop of Ossetra caviar and red wood sorrel. The crab is amazing, and has been handled with care, in order to achieve a perfect storm of sweetness, texture and mineral sea-saltiness. In terms of wine, there are mostly low-key French classics to suit the theme. A light beaujolais works best with the oven-baked turbot with grapefruit and bell peppers. An impossible combo on paper, but the young, tart wine works surprisingly well. A floral sauvignon blanc is not as convincing with the crab, and an albeit delightfully spicy côtes-du-rhône is too strong to be the only wine served with the amazing cheese trolley – which could be worth a visit in itself. The kitchen is, on the whole, balanced and mature without too much shouting or screaming – and gets extra points when the perfectionist is allowed to come into his own in the amuse-bouches and petit fours. The small canapés are the evening’s highlights, with small cake pieces of fresh clams and garlic mayo, herb-infused “chips”, lobster meat with caviar, and the fried ball of pork cheek. The artistic expression is as meticulously controlled here as in the desserts, where Khouani does not shrink from the traditional in combining a coffee and chocolate tart with exotic elements like mango, coconut and lime. There are few places in Sweden where it is possible to find such a passionate relationship with cheese – and the portions here are more than generous. However, the discriminating wine menu needs a bit more courage and vision to match the great French narrative on the plates.
Lithuania’s most honest local flavors. Farm to fork extraordinaire. Sweet Root is an eatery where the staff and the growers are united by lifestyle. Owner-manager Sigitas Žemaitis serves up sincere stories about the origins of his food, adding much emotional flavor to the dishes. Of course his menu pays tribute to his suppliers, listing the farms by name. Chard, smoked ham and buttermilk are the beloved kitchen’s cornerstones, they conjure the hearty flavors of the countryside with astringent dairy notes, and homey smoky-earthy fragrances. Also on the menu: Simple fried chicken breast fillet served with bone broth, chicken liver and crisped chicken skin, a dish that proves chicken doesn’t have to be boring. Smoked pike is usually dull, when dressed with fermented cucumbers and gooseberries, however, it gets an acidic punch, ideally this dish should be paired with a sip of Riesling. Sweet Root is located in Užupio, across the river Neris in central Vilnius. It’s a cozy location, especially in the winter when darkness falls early and the lights from the neighboring shops and cafés twinkle invitingly. Strangely, Užupio is more crowded during the warmer seasons, which means you have it all to yourself come November-December.
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.
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 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.
This austere little locale houses some of Sweden’s most defiant cooking. Both the flavours and the colours of the dishes tend toward the earthy, doing full justice to natural wines. It is easy to be impressed by the many uncompromising experiences, like a dish where topside, from a cow from Bjällansås farm, plays the main role. Under the thin raw meat lies a delicious blend of ramson cream with chips made from maple peas and the crunch of hazelnut. Eaten all together, it’s a funky flavour-enhancer in which the herb cream and nuttiness meet iron, fleshy notes. The wine, a juicy, raspberry-ish nerello mascalese from Vino di Anna on Etna, grows in the experience along with the topside. The most attractive dish, however, is a plate with Jerusalem artichoke cream flavoured with smoky notes of sugar-salted char roe on which beautiful strips of thick and pickled green rhubarb make a fanciful, impressionistic effect. An elegant flavour combo with acidity, smokiness and a deep creamy taste. A pinot gris from Pierre Frick in Alsace lived up to the dish’s acidity. The celeriac dish with cultivated mushrooms from Torna Hällestad in Skåne is no beauty, with its snake-like dumplings of celery cream winding around the pale mushrooms. But the taste – packed with maximum umami – makes us forgive the transgression. The reddish-black, slow-baked beet has been grilled with a birch sap glaze and plated on a grey dish with an airy hollandaise that’s flavoured with woodruff vinegar and dusted with powders made from beef brisket and beets. It is stylish and surprising with fatty, herby, earthy flavours that take flight with help from the wine, a cabernet franc Les Tailles from Jean-Christophe Garnier. The grilled, red pointed cabbage is an odd beauty. It covers pieces of thinly sliced lamb from Ällmora farm with naked barley and smoked mayonnaise. The meatiness and the bitter notes work well with a syrah from Saint Joseph in Rhône. It’s nice to fall into a dialogue about the dishes with all the knowledgeable people in the dining room – and they impart their passionate knowledge more than happily.
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.