Copenhagen - Two very expensive days of eating and drinking but worth every penny (very long review)
So, I knew one of my meals was going to be expensive and had prepared accordingly, I had also heard the rumours that Copenhagen is not a particularly cheap place to visit, nothing quite prepared me for the battering my and travelling partners wallets was got though.
Arrived late on friday night and headed straight out to a nearby bar in Vesterbro that I had read about online, a microbrewery going by Mikkeller. We arrived and the place was pretty busy, a downstairs bar that offered up approximately 20 beers on tap and many more from the bottle. Prices ranged from 25 to 60kr depending on size and strength of your beer choice. I sampled about 4 and have to say all of their own brews, plus those from other local breweries were excellent, the kaffe stout and imperial stout were really excellent, and thankfully only cam in 200/400ml serves, not sure I could manage a pint of 10.2%.
Next day was very good coffee as Estate Coffee, very good milk based espresso drinks, as good as have had here in the uk and a mean Valrhona brownie to keep me going until lunch.
Lunch was out at Aamans, a smorrebrod specialist, and it certainly delivered, at approx 50kr each they were very good, with a great selection of fish, meat and other toppings, for me the stand outs were the steak tartare with tarragon and a fried piece of pickled herring with various additions.
A quick stop at Emmerys for a cake also delivered with a very good chocolate (valrhona again) sourdough roll, and a cake (i forget the name) of pastry and raspberry jam, perfectly tart, just refreshing enough following the llunch.
Following a brief trip to see the mermaid it was time to get out of the cold so we headed back to Mikkeller to try some more of their beer, the double ipa was excellent as was a pils an their american dream (american lager style, very floral) and a bar snack of spiced sausage to keep us going.
The first stop of two of the night was at Ruby's for a cocktail, very pleasant it was too, a great room and a nice place to start the evening, I have had better cokctails but it was certainly a good one, hen onto the main event, a dinner at Noma.
needless to say since I booked it back in Decmber I have been pretty excited abot getting in and on the saturday I wanted. Following a cold walk over the bridge and through the residential area we arrived at a rather scrub ridden car park, not the most picturesque of places, but the main building with our destination in was handsome and looked welcoming with a warm glow emanating from the windows.
We arrive and are welcomed more than warmly and shown to our table, what a lovely room, low lit, well spaced tables and the look of happy faces on the people who have already started their meals, a good start.
Drinks were ordered and we settled in for the long haul, here is how it went
Malt Flat Bread and Juniper
Moss and cep
Seabuckthorn leather and pickled hip roses
Cookie with lardo and currant
Rye bread, chicken skin, lumpfish roe and smoked cheese
Pickled and smoked quail egg
Radish, soil and herbs
Toast, herbs, smoked cod roe and vinegar
Not a bad start, the quail egg and chicken skin dishes were stand outs, all enjjoyable, these had aweome depth of flavour, particulalry the chicken skin
Leak and seaweed
Razor clam and dill, buttermilk and horseradish
Scallops, beech nut, watercress and grains
Chestnut and lojrom (more fish roe from a small oily fish), cress and walnut
Oyster and the ocean
The 'fish' course were a highlight for me, the scallop dish was a solid 9 or 10/10 dish, really amazing flavour of watercress mixed with the dried scallop, fantastic flavour and texture, almost up there at that level was the chestnut and razor clam dish, again very clean flavours, but intense to a degree too
Onion and unripe grape juice, thyme and tapioca
Celeriac and truffle
Pickled vegetable and bone marrow
The Veg courses also delivered some excelletn results, the truffle sauce was particularly good with the 'confited' celeriac (cooked in goat butter). the pickled veg was as pretty as you would imagine and the flavours good,with an excellent pork licquor offsetting the sharp pickle
The main course arrived and it was also very good indeed
Rain deer tongue, apple, malt and brown butter
Cooked for a long time at low temp, rsulted in my mind a consistency of slightly firm foie gras, the accompanying veg/fruit helping raise it yet further, although we did think the tongue a little under seasoned. So far so good, based on our usual Good Food Guide (uk) scoring system we were up around the high 8s, however, then desserts arrived
Brown cheese and beetroot
The were either a little disappointing, as with the pear which failed ot deliver an intense enough flavour for me, matched with a 'sponge' that was cleverly created (something to do with a vaccum) but generally added nothing and as someone said, just didn;t taste that good. The snowman wass a trio of citrus desserts, meringue, mousse and sorbet, all very nice but again lacking that intensity. the final dessert of beetroot with liquorice and brown cheese (to me a bit like caramelised evap milk) was again a little bit lacking and a bit too odd for my tastes. None of the desserts were sweet, I asked our waiter and he explained Rene doens't like people getting over full, but still fo rme they needed something a bit more, or maybe just didn't suit my palate. Petit fours also bamboozled, can't remember them entirely, but one was a potato crisp coveredd in chocolate (valrhona no doubt) and sprinkled with fennel, not great!
Away from the food, service was excellent, the knowledge of staff was astonishing, both on the food, preparation techniques and the matching wines and beers we had. The room is fantastic and very buzzy, something that often goes out of the window at some high end establishments, very much like a neighbourhood eatery. So as a dining experience we had a fantastic four hours, as a restaurant I can safely say I haven't experienced better (San Pelogrino were rright) but as far ass the food goes, there were a few highs, and some very consisent savoury courses, but once the desserts started I am afraid it went down a bit in estimations, an overall score of 7.5 was given on departure, put in context Fat Duck is 8.5 and Le Manoirs 8, so right up there, but possibly not as high as I thought it may get.
The sunday was spent in recovery of sorts, yet more walking between coffee shops, this time Coffee Collective (yet more excellent espresso based drinks) and the Kent Kaffe Lab and then onto a Burger Joint set up by (allegedly) ex michelin chef looking for the perfect burger, it was very good, but two burgers, chips and two cokes coming in just under £40 was a hard hit, made Noma seem a veritable bargain.
Having now returned to the uk and spent nearly all day talking aboit it I can safely say that Noma is one of the best evenings I have had in a restaurant, possibly only thing coming close is the FD, I smiled for nearly four hours straight (very rare for me) and for me, food issues aside, the restaurant deserves to be right up at the top of any list.