20 September 2014
My second and last night in Copenhagen took me out to the Christianshavn part of town. No, not Noma, no interest in that. I had decided to have dinner at the 1-Michelin, highly-raved-about eatery originally from the Baltic island of Bornholm, Kadeau. As my readers know, having lived on the Baltic coast for years, I have a special love for anything on a Baltic island. This was why I chose Kadeau.
Christianshavn is actually a hike from the centre, and I was a sweaty mess. Copenhagen has to be the only city that does not have its underground serve the central train station, and the trains that day were a mess going north… So I legged it.
I recovered for a few minutes after being sat at the large communal table that runs through the restaurant. I was early so it wasn’t very busy yet. I relaxed, ordered a full wine pairing, and looked forward to this journey to Bornholm without leaving Copenhagen. Menu looked interesting, though I was told there’s quite a long list of amuse bouches. And it begins.
The first amuse was a potato roll, with a dab of urchin inside. Just a palate starter, nothing special. Urchin didn’t stand out much. But it’s just a snack, so…
Barely had I finished chewing the second amuse appeared, smoked mackerel. This was very nice, I love mackerel so this was a huge plus. But once again before I finished chewing (and got a chance to sip the wine) the third amuse came.
I’m feeling rushed as now we have a strange thing of chicken skin and Jerusalem artichoke. This didn’t work at all, and I purposely waited to eat this so I can at least have a sip of wine… I know it’s not busy yet, but this is ridiculous.
And as expected the minute I finished this morsel it was taken away and the fourth amuse arrived. This was a thin piece of sourdough, with lichen as flavouring. This was interesting and nice, what I had expected from this restaurant.
However, now I was pissed off, as I was still eating this dish, holding half of the sourdough, when they took the plate away. This has now broken not just speed rules, but courtesy rules. A huge front-of-house fail. I still had food in my hand for goodness sakes.
I was starting to sour on this place when the fifth amuse came, a weird beetroot dish with powder. Interesting, but was odd — and before I could ask a question, they took it away again! WTF. Are they trying to rush me out as a single diner, so I can free up space for a late seating? Not happy so far.
The sixth amuse then came, a mushroom soup. This finally allowed me to slow things down as I had some more wine. Nothing special really. The whole thing is getting mixed up and the flavours are clashing left and right because of the ridiculous speed of service.
The seventh amuse starts a trio of duck-related items, the first being smoked duck breast. This was very nice, very flavourful. The only reason service slowed down was because the runner had trouble removing the stone tablet…
The eighth was duck skin. Unfortunately, done almost like a crackling, it was utterly tasteless. A 180-degree from the last one.
And finally, the last amuse, the ninth, was duck heart. Not bad, but nowhere as good as the chicken heart I had at Colonialen in Bergen a few nights ago.
Honestly that was rushed and annoying. I asked the server, and he said the kitchen preferred it served quickly like that. That is utterly annoying and goes against every aspect of slow food. I want to appreciate what I eat, not to be overwhelmed to a point I can’t figure out if the item is good or bad. Just to let you know, the photo of amuse #1 was timed at 18:41. The photo of amuse #9 was 18:56. 15 minutes for 9 items. To make it worse, amuse #8 was timed at 18:51 — so 8 items in less than 10 minutes.
I’m sorry, that’s not the way I like to dine. It’s a bloody waste.
This has soured me on the entire Kadeau experience, and the first course did not help in that impression.
This is actually a dish based on mussels and cabbage. Really? It also featured lovage and green strawberry. But frankly the texture of this dish was confusing and I felt like a rabbit. The mussels all but disappeared. Compared to the dishes I’ve had for the last few days, this was a total miss.
I did ask them to slow things down a little, so I actually had 9 minutes to eat this and enjoy my paired wine… The second dish did not change my impressions very much.
This is based on squash and fresh cheese. I like squash/courgettes very much, but it seems rather unbalanced. The oyster essence helped, but really, it didn’t do much for me. I’ve seen better use of squash in suburban dining rooms. Growing even more disappointed.
The third dish was beef tartar. To be honest these were completely flavourless. No strength of beef at all, and very poorly seasoned. Bland at one end, a rock at another that I almost worried would crack my tooth. The additions below, most notably pickled onions, was actually the highlight of this dish. Wow, shocked. Maybe my palate was blown out by the lightning amuse bouches, but still…wow…
The fourth dish was a wee langostine with cauliflower. Not bad, but very modest. Compared to the langostine I’ve had the last few days at Koks & Hafnia in the Faroes and Colonialen in Bergen, this was really bottom of the list. Very disappointing. Remember, this place has a Michelin star.
Even though the service speed was now normal and adequate to enjoy the wine pairings, I was already pretty sour on this meal. The next dish didn’t help, not at all…
Dish 5 is centred on the green onion. I love green onion, but this is trying too hard to be Noma or Maaemo or Ylajali. Not bad, but it’s really not in the same league. But to be honest, this is the best dish of the night so far (alongside a few of the amuse bouches).
Dish number six was finally a good dish that made some sense. An excellent piece of pork, which Denmark is very good with. Carrots were okay, a bit overdone. The pork didn’t need any adulteration as it is a fabulous piece of meat. Best dish of the night, and that’s not really saying much…
We move into the desserts with a morsel based on toffee and cream…
Then finally to apple and plum… They really didn’t do much for me. I was pretty sour on this meal. I didn’t even touch the petit fours when they arrived as I was just keen on getting out of there. Throw in the annoying Danish practice of stiffing diners paying with cards (especially foreign), I put down a wad of cash and just wanted to forget this evening.
Frankly this dinner at Kadeau was not enjoyable at all, especially considering how amazing my food has been the last 5 evenings. This for me just shows that my fears of an overrated Copenhagen is coming true. It’s hyped so much the entire dining experience is no longer enjoyable — like in NYC or London. Mediocrity is being rewarded with 1 Michelin star it seems…
I leave Copenhagen with a bit of a sour taste in my mouth. I headed out before they attempt to bum-rush me with more amuse bouches…