Copenhagen Restaurants

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Dining' started by travelgourmet, May 24, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. travelgourmet
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    travelgourmet Silver Member

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    The thread on MASH Copenhagen got me pondering places I like to eat in Copenhagen. I tend to eat out a lot and thought I would give some thoughts on some of my favorite places to eat. Hopefully others can chime in with their thoughts and favorites. I'll start with one restaurant, and try to come back with some others.

    noma - There is a lot written about noma, which the San Pellegrino list has crowned the "Best Restaurant in the World" for 2 years running. This fame has made reservations hard to get. You must book 3 months in advance, on the first of the month, at 10am CET. So, at 10am on 1 June, you can book for the entire month of September. Be online at 9:55 and keep hitting refresh and you should be able to get something decent, but by 10:05, pickings will be slim, if there is even anything left.

    What can you expect? Some of the most interesting food you've ever had. The food is all from the Nordic region and the attention to detail is incredible. When we spoke to the chef, he claimed that what they do is "simple". One look at the cookbook/food-porn suggests otherwise, given the laundry list of specialized equipment and ingredients not readily found in the grocery store. But, he is right in that the intent is to present top-notch ingredients in a way that highlights the best of the ingredients. It really is a special place. Perhaps not something I crave, like a do a burger, but a truly great experience nonetheless.

    As an example of the type of dish you might encounter, I'll try to do justice to their "Razor Clam and Parsley, Horseradish and Dill". This was one of my favorites from my last trip, but I love razor clams, so I'm not unbiased. One thing that noma does is plays with textures and presents foods in different ways. Without assuming too much in terms of motivation, I suspect that this is partly to be different, partly to find the right combination of flavors, and partly to break down the diner's expectations of what the dish will taste like. If I were to look at a plate of razor clams with parsley and horseradish tossed on top, I think I would have a good idea what it would taste like. At noma, they create what is basically a parsley jello, and wrap this around the razor clam, creating what looks like some sort of razor clam candy. They top this with horseradish snow that delivers the essence of horseradish, but spreads the flavor evenly through the dish, preventing the flavor from overpowering, and increasing the harmony of the dish. This is drizzled with dill oil, that serves a similar purpose. To be honest, it throws me off, and makes me curious in a way that a more traditional presentation wouldn't. Is the food fussy? Absolutely. It is probably even pretentious. But, it somehow works.

    The restaurant itself works too. This is Denmark, so it is not a golden chandelier sort of place. The room is spare, with brick walls, wood floors, and almost rustic furnishings. To be honest, this means it can get a bit loud if there are large parties as there were on my last visit. The service is a bit different. You have a waiter, that introduces the menu and manages the beverages and silverware and the like, but the dishes are served by a parade of the kitchen staff, including Mr. Redzepi, himself, if he is there. Clearly, the kitchen staff have a closer association with the dish than the waiter does, and it can be interesting if you get the courage to ask a question and establish a dialogue, but it also somewhat interrupts the continuity. I think back to a meal I had in Napa last year at Redd, where I had the most amazing waitress. By the end of the meal, the relationship was so comfortable that it added to the experience. With 8 different cooks coming by, I'm not sure you can get that same intimacy. Still, the service is top-notch.

    As with virtually all restaurants in Copenhagen, dress is pretty casual. I'm not sure that I would wear shorts, but jeans are fine. If you really wanted to rock the hipster look, then jeans, t-shirt, and blazer would fit right in.

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