“You are very welcome,” said Chef Rasmus Koefoed as he approached our table with our first main course. We didn’t know what we were being served or too much about him. It turned out out he is a three time participant and gold winner in the Bocuse d’Or; an intense culinary competition of the world's best chefs. Robert was lucky to get this booking at the last minute only a day earlier. He booked it only knowing that it was number 49 of the World's 50 Best Restaurants and that Copenhagen had become a culinary destination.
This feeling of “not knowing” was mainly the theme surrounding our evening since we got off a taxi cab outside the Fælledparken in the Østerbro area of Copenhagen.
It was our first dinner at a Michelin Starred restaurant. As the elevator door opened to the 8th floor, we were greeted by two receptionists behind a counter area. They checked us in and got our coats for us before leading the way to the dining room. The room was very spacious and sleek with big tables and plentiful space between them. Everybody in their dressy clothes were already seated enjoying glasses of wine. After settling in at our table, we already knew what we were going to have - the Universe Tasting menu with juice pairing. This selection included 14+ courses made with ingredients specific to Denmark and the season.
We were first served with amuse bouches or snacks as they called them.
Potato Chips & Seaweed: Delicate chips that were slightly salty held a strong ocean flavor.
Carrot & Seabuckthorn: We thought they were berries when these were brought out. But, we would not have guessed that they were candied carrot juice filled with seabuckthorn foam. They tasted like tangerines although a bit less sour.
Seasalt Cheese & Ramson: Bread sticks that came with a dipping sauce flavored with ramson. The salty bread sticks went well with the pungent taste of the sauce similar to that of garlic.
Mushrooms: When these fancy silver egg cups were place in front of us, we thought we were about to eat a dish made with eggs or resembling eggs. But as one of the chefs opened them, we were introduced to mushroom foam that was rich and savory.
Razor Clams: Razor clam tartare wrapped in squid-ink crusts that looked like shells. Yes, they get creative with their servings!
Jerusalem Artichoke Tree & Walnut Oil: The strips coiled in the branch were made of Jerusalem artichokes. Each strip delightfully went well with the rich nutty taste of the dipping sauce seasoned with walnut oil. The chef had to remind us that the branches were inedible. Good thing he did or we would have tried to eat them too!
Our first glass of juice came when they finished serving the snacks.
Lemonade with Pine Juice: The lemonade mixed with the freshness and minty sensations of coolness from the pine was truly refreshing.
Jellied Ham, Tomato Water & Rapeseed Flowers: This was one of the most flavorful dishes we had up to that point. As soon as we bit the jellied spheres, a gush of liquid that tasted like ham exploded in our mouth. The smokey, sweet and salty flavor of the ham was complemented by the slight bitterness from the rapeseed flowers and the umami taste from the tomatoes.
Dillstone & Fermented Vegetables: Inside these green “stones” was a gel-like substance made of dill and salmon meat. It came with a dipping sauce made of roe and dill stems. These bite-size wonders were truly pleasant and flavorful.
The Perfect Scallop: One of my favorites from the night. This salted scallop rested on butter sauce and was topped with elderberries. Like with the rest of the seafood served, the scallop was fresh and succulent. Everything on this plate was amazing!
Algiers, Cucumber & Apple Juice: As the name suggests, this juice was a mixture of aloe, cucumber, apple with a touch of celery. It was a delectable drink. More please!
Hake, Horseradish Juice & Herb Stems: The meat of the hake was wrapped inside an Icelandic dairy product, which reminded us of yogurt.
Jonagored Apples Juice: First of the various types of apple juice served to us that evening. This one was wonderful and had a sweet and tangy taste to it.
Bread with Emmer & Spelt: Warm and delicious pieces of sourdough bread (made with spelt and topped with oats) were placed in front of us. They became even more tasty when eaten with the buttermilk spread that came with them.
Onions & Melted Hay Cheese: The most unforgettable thing about this dish, aside from its taste, was the extravagant way it was brought out. There were three people who served this dish to us. The first one brought out a plate with the onions, the second one brought out the sauce in a silver tea pot, while the third one brought out a shiny horn with black crumbs inside it. The soup made with hay cheese was poured on top of the sweet onions, while the bread crumbs coming from the horn were delicately sprinkled on top of the dish. This was all happening right in front of us which made the experience even more interesting.
Ingrid Marie & Tarragon Juice: Ingrid Marie is a kind of apple from Denmark. The juice was light and smooth.
Elements of the Sea: Made of chopped oysters, lumpfish roe, different types of seaweed, sea herbs and a beurreblanc (buttersauce), this dish was exquisite!
Pigeon Apple: The juice was very aromatic and sweet. I could taste the difference between this apple juice and the other glasses of apple juice we have been served with. I never realized that apples came in so many different varieties.
Langoustine & Hay Aroma: Perfectly cooked langoustines seasoned with herbs, flowers, and herb sauce lie on an artsy silver platter in front of us. A very pretty plate but would the taste be pleasant as well? Of course it did! The dish had a pristine taste. The freshness of the langoustines was made perfect by the earthiness of the seasoned herbs on top of them.
Cold Verbena Tea: A glass of verbena tea with lemon and basil. It tasted like sweet, minty chamomile tea. This drink was soothing and also served as a pallet cleanser. Ready for the next dish!
Herbgarden: This is Rasmus Kofoed's signature dish. The broth was based on cured lamb which we watched poured over a bowl containing foraged flowers, fresh herbs, and Danish asparagus. We couldn't wait to dig in to this mouth-watering spectacle as we watched the dish being prepared at our table. Each bite delivered the essence of Denmark. The dish was intriguing yet wonderful.
Grape & Juniper Juice: The juice was sweet mixed with a piney and earthy taste coming from the juniper berries. This drink was a little bit thicker with more intense flavors than the other drinks. It almost tasted like red wine sans alcohol.
Deer, Beetroot, Berries & Stems: The deer was soft and tender lying on a sauce made of beets, berries and mushroom. On top of it was a cherry vinegar film. I did not enjoy the dish as much, not sure if it was because I was put-off by the idea that I was eating a reindeer (poor Rudolph) or because I was getting full. I swear I heard the chef say "reindeer" when he was introducing the dish to us.
Elderflower Soda: The top layer of this dish was foam covering about three spoonfuls of elderberry jelly. I really enjoyed each spoon. It seemed as if various tastes of goodness and pleasantness danced in my mouth as I took in one spoon after another. The whole cup had just enough sweet in it with a slight hint of acidity.
Wood Sorrel Juice: This drink was concocted with wood sorrel and woodruff. We didn't know what they were but eventually found out that they are types of herbs.
Beech Tree & Wood Sorrel: This dessert was slightly sweet and smooth, another one of my favorites. It didn't have a sticky aftertaste similar to what you get after eating a whole bowl of sugar. The plate was made of frozen beech tree juice with wood sorrel leaves. The bits on top were ice cream that fizzled in our mouths.
Frosty Flowers, Rhubarb & Thyme: The most beautiful dish of the evening. Rhubarb compote with frozen flower and meringue. The tart flowers and the vanilla-tasting syrup made a heavenly dessert.
Green Egg: Egg-shaped chocolates filled with frozen mint filling inside. They were your typical chocolate mints but presented in an interesting way.
Carrot Leaf: One last treat. Crispy and sweet. As the name suggests, they were carrot-flavored chips.
We loved the dinner and happy to have gone. Our palettes were opened to new ingredients and flavors that are considered New Nordic Cuisine. Jerusalem Artichokes, Sweet Woodroof, Seabuckthorn and Elderberries were some of the new ones we were exposed to. I stopped making a list and completely surrendered myself to the experience as I figured that the dishes would come out amazing no matter what ingredients they used. And I was right! Every dish was visually beautiful, skillfully prepared and flavorful all at the same time.
Per Henrik Lings Allé 4
2100 Copenhagen, Denmark
+45 69 96 00 20