We spent 5 days in Copenhagen recently and had a few very good meals.
Not mind blowing, but we definitely ate well.
Before going to Copenhagen, my big decision was whether or not to have a splurge meal at Geranium(2500dkk), Kadeau(2000dkk), or AOC(2000dkk) (was considering them in that order). I decided against it, and chose to do a few less pricey dinners. In retrospect, I would probably do one of those high end meals (either Geranium or maybe at The Alchemist, once it opens again). Or Noma, of course (we have resos for vegetable season).
I left feeling like we ate some delicious food, but that we may have be better off spending that amount of money in Italy, France, Spain, London, Berlin, or maybe even parts of Eastern Europe (Vienna, Prague, Tallinn or Slovenia, maybe?).
Two reasons that come to mind are that ‘new nordic’ has infiltrated the rest of the world by this point and that it’s harder to ‘wow’ doing that style of cooking — or maybe eating minimalist vegetable preparations, that far north of the equator, in the middle of winter, 5 days in a row, is not really the best idea.
Despite great technical ability and obvious care, and attention to detail, there was a bit of soul, taste, heartiness lacking from the food. It would have been nice to have more of the Danish/Scandinavian influence at times, though I suppose it's hard for me to really pinpoint what that means.
Ranking the meals we had
(r) = recommended
(r/wt) = recommended, would travel
Studio (r) / Sanchez (r/wt)
Slurp Ramen (r) / Cafe Atelier September (r)
Johns Hotdog and Deli
108 (best pastries, not great coffee) (r/wt)
Democratic coffee (very good pastries, very good coffee) (r)
Hart Bakery (good pastries, didn't try the coffee) (r)
Prolog (coffee a bit papery and under extracted, but probably good on average)
Coffee Collective (still good coffee, but the worst of the bunch)
Amass was closed while we were there, otherwise would have been second on my list to try, after Studio.
We went to Studio on an odd night, where we were the only guests there and the head chef was not. The food was very good throughout, and there were a couple of standout dishes (a long cooked Belgian endive dish and a pine-mushroom dessert really stood out for me), and there were some very nice flavor combinations and really tasty components throughout. Overall, I would say the food there was on par or better than what we ate at the 2* Horvath (a recent meal in the same price range, so easy to compare against).
Despite some issues with cooking/inconsistency, Sanchez was really great, imo. Would definitely return, although there are things they could work on imo (tortillas, rice, mole -- my wife also didn't like her taco which was served in a (charred?) cabbage leaf that was apparently not that well thought out or executed, or maybe both). But I would say the flavors here, at times, rivaled those at Quintonil / Pujol, but maybe not the presentation or sophistication of those places. I think in time this could really be a destination spot. I plan to return on my next visit to CPH, though we might opt for Hija de Sanchez.
*Host and Alouette*
Host and Alouette were good; but not amazing. Again, it's tough when you're being compared to other very good restaurants cooking the same style of food with the same ingredients, so I think that's part of the problem. There's very little I could fault either restaurant with. The value at Host is a little better.
Studio was a clear step above either, for me.
(Alouette was our last meal of the trip, so I wonder how much palate fatigue had to do with this)
A lot of well-cooked vegetables that didn't have a ton of excitement to them. I cook like that most days, and when you want to put the vegetable as the star there needs to be a really good vegetable to start with (and ideally you would have something to pair it with to give it some more interest). I felt like the seasoning could have been stronger for most dishes, though maybe I had grown tired of minimalist root vegetables by this point of the trip.
The flavors were good at times, and overall execution was great -- but there was nothing there that really made you want to have seconds (or even finish the dish, in some cases). I actually thought the value was pretty good in comparison to other places (285dkk/pp for a lot of food), though it just didn't really hit the spot for me. But, maybe in the summer it would be better. If I was to do it again, I would choose Relae over Manfred’s.
Would also return to Baest as well. One of the best pizzas I've had anywhere.
Slurp, Selma, and Cafe Atelier September were all very good, but quite pricey for what you get. Same to be said for Apollo Bar and Ruby, where we had friendly service, and a good time -- but with a CPH price tag.
Slurp -- the vegetarian ramen wasn't my favourite style, but it was very considered, flavorful and had delicious noodles. Definitely a really good execution for that particular style.
John's hotdog and deli was good for a quick meal, though I wouldn't go out of my way for it, and if I were in the area I would probably go for Hija de Sanchez. The vegetarian option was not the best, though the fries and huge condiment bar are definitely winners.
*Best Bites of the trip*
Dessert at Studio (roasted almond ice cream, mushroom oil, young pines, mushroom almond praline) - I’m getting a bit weary of mushroom in desserts by this point, but this was really delicious — young pines were a great pairing and the roasted almond ice cream is one of the most delicious ice creams I’ve ever had — perfect texture.
Mushroom Tamales at Sanchez — these were by far the best tamales I’ve ever had; only available on the tasting menu ( and you can’t order extras afterwards…). Super moist, flavorful, really spectacular.
Yogurt with granola and macerated kumquats at Cafe Atelier September - simple, delicious. An expensive bowl of granola, sure, but worth it as a bit of a splurge.
Stracciatella, roasted garlic, mixed greens, oyster mushroom pizza at Baest — really delicious pizza
Roasted Parsnip with Sorano beans (Alouette) - probably some bonus points for the chef being the one to explain the dish and providence of the beans, but a really well executed version of a pretty average sounding dish. The beans were very very tasty.
Pastries at 108 (108) - worth the trek. I'm hesitant to say they were the best pastries I've had, but they definitely got me thinking about the best pastries I've had.
*Food ideas to try at home*
Pickled Jerusalem Artichokes (Johns Hot Dog and Deli)
Macerated Kumquats (Cafe Atelier September)
Mushroom Oil (Sanchez)
Shredded raw oyster mushrooms on pizza/salad (Baest)
Elderberry Powder (Høst) (used on sweet and savoury dishes for an acidic/floral punch)
Pickled baby peaches (Ruby)
*Things we brought back home with us*
Hven Gin - based on previous discussions on this board; yes, delicious. Widely available, a little pricey -- probably worth it.
Will order online:
Empirical Spirits (https://empiricalspirits.co/) - had the ‘fallen pony blend’ — delicious. Worth the price and then some. Highly recommended.
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