11 June 2016
I’m not sure why I planned this trip, but it came about in a matter of days and I thought, why not. I usually don’t like travelling in Europe during this time because it’s lousy with tourists and places start to dream about Midsummer and shutting down, but nevertheless something worked out and I hopped over the Atlantic for a quick trip through 4 countries where I’ve spent quite a lot of time over the past 20+ years.
My first stop was Copenhagen, almost no thanks to Norwegian Air. Cheap it may be, but there’s a bloody reason why it is. Plus, you get the insult-on-foundation called Terminal 1 at JFK to deal with… We got into Copenhagen late, but no problem as it was already a busy Saturday afternoon in holiday-minded Denmark. Nice to be back somewhere I’ve been visiting many times for 22 years…
That night I headed out for a nice dinner Kokkeriet. Although it boasts 1 Michelin star, it seems to be the restaurant that gets little or no love from the various food bloggers and the usual “Noma is fucking beyond amazing” crowd who are in a circle jerk over the same half dozen places in this city. That’s why I purposely chose Kokkeriet. I wanted to see beyond that blog-smeared haze.
It’s a relaxed upscale restaurant and I got a great table in back all set up like a throne for the lone diner. Excellent service at the onset and they went through how things work. I went with the big tasting menu as I hadn’t eaten anything since a really bad sandwich at JFK the night before, and the full wine pairing. Soon the series of snacks began.
First up was a sunchoke waffle with mushroom powder. The latter made a big difference here. Then next up (not too quickly, thank goodness, unlike the indigestion-inducing Kadeau a few kilometres away) is a wee potato cake.
A bit dry and the promised cheese was lacking, but the combination of flavours including ramson and especially onion was very nice. Next up is an interesting looking morsel.
Obviously beet involved — just crusted. Inside is a cod and bacon concoction. Worked okay, a bit on the bitter side and the beet seemed more visual than flavourful. So far the snacks are mixed, and next is chicken skin.
This worked far better, the liver pate added a lot to the dish. Texture is good too, retaining crispiness. And then the final snack arrived, the pork riblet.
They used a currant-based sauce for this tasty little snack. I love Danish pork, and this was a fine example to close the opening part of this meal. I’d say it’s so-so, some good some weak. I’m looking forward to the full meal as the menu looked quite excellent. I don’t judge places much by this snacks segment, but it did its job — it’s gotten my attention. Then it begins…
The first dish was a feast for the olfactory sense as the herring broth was just divine. The first 30 seconds all I did was breathe it in… Nice poached quail egg, really works with the salty broth. The aroma remained intoxicating… A good balance here, a good start! The wine pours, by the way, was quite generous — especially for Denmark. We move onto the second dish in a few minutes and it’s a feast of shades of green.
The celeriac rose was evident of the cider vinegar it was pickled with, of which the apple and pea base complemented. Perhaps too tilted to apple (which was splendid) than peas, still quite a nice dish. Worked well with a wee bubbly too. So far am enjoying this dinner, good pairings and service. Lots of other folks enjoying dinner this Saturday evening too.
Next up is a dish focusing on squid, complemented by wee bits of crispy pork and a delicious ramson-centric sauce. I usually don’t like my squid sliced so small, but this worked very well, almost like a wee pasta dish. Sauce was excellent, the pork may have been the less necessary part of this excellent dish. Delicious!
The fourth dish is a scrumptious scallop topped by some fried chicken skin. The scallop was delicious, tasting of that stealthy sweetness you get with a really nice scallop. Only negative — the chicken skin really didn’t work and were actually something I scraped away. Like in the last dish, it was in my opinion somewhat unncessary and not done very well in this case. But the scallop? Excellent.
I was enjoying this tasting menu very much, complemented by good wine and excellent service. Fellow diners were a mix of locals and foreigners, and the staff does service in various languages with little problem. The joys of the Nordics. Back to the food, the next dish was a puzzler at first…
It was labelled as cured beef with roe and cheese, but it seems everything is housed in this daikon construction. It’s cute for sure, but not very practical to eat as it’s hard to use daikon to “wrap” anything. But the beef was excellent, as was the roe and cheese — just hard to get everything into one bite even after deconstructing the daikon tower… Delicious, cute, but not too practical…
Next up was the miss of the night, the klippfisk — Norway’s famous dried salted cod. This dish unfortunately was overwhelmed with a clashing potato mess on top. The egg under this helped, but the star really was the sauce. A little lacking in the fish tho. Sadly, the weakest dish all night. Then the momentum returned with the next dish, the humble beet.
I love beet but this really was gorgeous with hay-smoked cream that really brought out a divine aroma. Just a very nice dish for all the senses here as we start the transition to heavier items.
Next item was a tasting of veal — this time the tongue. One of my favourite parts, and they did a fabulous job with it. Amazingly tender but without losing the consistency that makes it tongue. The oyster-parsley sauce added even more to this excellent dish. The dish of the night so far, but that’s about to change.
Chef brought out then a wee poussin and carved off a piece and plated it for me for the next dish, and it was a beauty…
I have to say this was the best poussin I’ve eaten in many years, amazingly delicate (as they are) but full of flavour. The asparagus selections complemented this dish perfectly, and at this moment this dish is a candidate for one of the top 10 dishes of 2016. Fabulous! I was smiling quite nicely now as we move to the final savoury dish.
Perhaps the poussin was too good, this oxtail dish was a bit mediocre. The broth, which brought out the essence of marrow, was nice as the terrine was a little dry otherwise. I think I was still on a high from the last course so it’s not very fair of me to judge this course…
Well, that was a nice dinner. They let me relax a wee bit before we started on the dessert courses. I had passed on the cheese course as I was feeling a bit full. The first of the three desserts paid tribute to the cucumber.
Very nice, worked as a palate cleanser. Touch of white chocolate to make it more dessert-like. Good start.
Next up a tribute to lemon and sorrel, with a strong appearance by caramel. I’m not a dessert person as you all know, but this worked very nicely and balanced tart and sweet successfully. The sorrel gelato was a big plus.
And finally, the final dessert was a chocolate mousse, complemented by prune and hazlenut and lots of flowers. A bit all over the place with flavours, almost chaotic. Maybe that’s the way they wanted this meal to end?
I enjoyed the dinner very much and asked about something local to complement this fine meal, and they decided to give me a tasting…
Oh my! A rather generous “tasting” of each of the 4 brandies. All excellent full of flavour, but the one that got my attention was the one of crown dill! I had to have more of that as I closed the evening.
Now Copenhagen has disappointed me many times in the past fine-dining-wise, but tonight was a solid one. The poussin will live on in my mind for a long time. Excellent service, a relaxed but upscale feel, no pressure — unlike so many of the blogger-infested places in town. This was lovely. I see tons of Instagram posts of the same radish rose from Noma near the water, and I think of my poussin and smile… #winning