November 20, 2019
Embark: Fine Dining in Copenhagen
At Chapter 81 we love Copenhagen. We have strong ties to this beautiful city, so we want to delve deeper into what it has to offer, and of course showcase what we find. First – let’s chat food, one of our favourite things, and our favourite fine dining establishments in the Danish capital.
Fancy food is big news in Copenhagen, and when you try the end of the market classed as ‘fine dining’, you could easily get lost in a sea of Michelin stars. They have certainly got quite a few splashing around. You may therefore need to remortgage your house for your birthday / anniversary treats, depending on how much you want to splash out. But there are superb places to eat that Michelin have so far overlooked, as well as new(ish) kids on the block like Clou and the simply Championship-level Geranium, high above the national football stadium. I tripped about the city eating and drinking like a queen – making sure to take full advantage of a partner in the business to help skip waiting lists and the like…
Fine Dining in Copenhagen: The C81 Hit List
Now, this was a real birthday treat. Silo is in a newly developing part of the city, so we had a bit of a magical mystery tour to get there – the street didn’t even show up on Google Maps. A minimally-signed building and a lift all the way to the 18th floor landed us in another world; Silo’s large, bustling, chic, vivacious space.
Silo has two dining options; either at the bar, where you can see the kitchen, or in the main dining area. We opted for the bar – mainly because I’m nosey, but also because the menu there isn’t the traditional dining menu – it’s an array of mix ‘n’ match small plates, which allows you to fully explore what’s on offer from the chefs.
Pop up one more floor and you’re at the rooftop cocktail bar on the 19th, with views across the city and over Øresund to Sweden. Cosy sofas and blankets are available for those chilly Scandi nights (and optimum hygge).
This is the Noma team’s second venue in Copenhagen, reinvented yet again, this time as an urban farm on an old military ground in the Reffen area of the city. Not only has chef (and co-owner) René Redzepi secured two Michelin stars over the sixteen years of Noma’s existence, but the restaurant has repeatedly been listed as the best in the world. So this place can easily set you back £300 for the set seasonal menu, which is superb in many ways (including the fact that you get sixteen dishes). But – if you’re a student, you get a discount!
It was Vegetable Season when we visited – an exploration of the plant kingdom, which brings not only great vegetarian or vegan creations, but some weird and wonderful ingredients like edible mold and insects, all beautifully presented and not exactly small for a tasting menu. Drinks pairing options are biodynamic wines and a non-alcoholic juice variation too. More superb. Add to this the fact that the staff are completely friendly and accommodating, there isn’t a pretentious vibe in the house. Highly recommended.
This place is pure passion. With only a few covers, Krebesgaarden is very personal and the menu is inspired by their adjoining gallery (across the courtyard). The space is easily broken up for couples dining or groups. Another venue that prides itself on food and wine pairing, but here there’s something substantially more special about it all, and that comes from the stories from Mads when every dish and glass is served. Even each of the sixteen cheeses on the board had a story behind its discovery, as well as every glass of wine, and every single ingredient.
Mads and Karsten put so much love into everything they do at Krebsegaarden, personally knowing each supplier and producer they work with, understanding the complete journey of their food and ensuring the utmost in quality control. A great amount of time is put into this place from the moment a dish is thought of to the moment it reaches the customer’s lips – complete love. And the staff are like a family too – it wouldn’t function the way it does if they weren’t.
Absolute full marks for a superb restaurant experience – homely, easy-going, delicious and really great fun.
Jonathan Berntsen is barely into his thirties and is in his fourth year of holding a star – his eccentric menu ideas perfectly executed by chef Martin Sørensen meant they were still in their first tiny space when Michelin stepped in and badged them up. And Clou still isn’t very big – a mere 12 covers, so it’s also a very personal space, with the partners out on the floor making for yet again a hands-on experience.
The ideas form from wine choices first, then the simplest ingredients, beautifully presented; striped ravioli, sobrasada; even the melon (Cinco Jotas & Melon) is delicately sliced and lovingly laid out. ‘Banana, Browned Butter & Licorice’ looks like a piece of modern art, and has been on the Clou menu for over a year as a firm favourite. ‘A Whole Bird’ (quail) isn’t for the faint-hearted though; legs, breast, and a deep-fried head… The duo’s infectious excitement and enthusiasm shines through in their food and in the restaurant experience, and also won them the ‘Copa Jerez 2019’; the most prestigious international competition in food and wine pairing. Definitely one for the wine buffs to head to.
Den Lille Fede
So this name translates as The Little Fat One – kinda cute. And great, straightforward dining here – no messing. Simple five or seven course tasting menus, obviously with wine pairings, are updated every month to encompass new seasonal supplies and ideas. With arty presentation and laid-back vibes from the staff, Den Lille Fede is a really comfortable place to eat, and for a fine dining establishment they don’t skimp on portions either. They also offer a pre-theatre dining package.
Owner Kaspar Arnoldi took over the long-established restaurant almost a decade ago, and he promotes excellent food and service, with his staff all tasting and approving menu options before they go out. Dishes are exciting and experimental, taking inspiration from global cooking alongside traditional Nordic ideas. And surely they have the most minimalist dessert in existence – lime, honey and double cream; white on white on a white plate. It’s a close call between that and the panna cotta with vanilla, white chocolate and sabayon sauce.
Now, this is the big hitter – the only Michelin 3 star restaurant in Denmark. Located eight floors up, high above the national stadium, Geranium has delicious views over Fælledparken and the red roofs of the city. Everything about it screams fine dining (of course – they’ve got three stars) – from the beautifully clean decor (although I’m a little uncertain on the table cloths), to the sleek open kitchen, the ridiculously beautiful artistry and presentation, and the superb staff.
Head chef and co-owner Rasmus Kofoed and his team create dishes which challenge and excite each of the senses, with unusual components and playfulness – the textures on signature dishes which sound straightforward actually create explosions in the mouth; ‘Beetroot Stone’ with scallop and horseradish is just beautifully bizarre. Mixing Scandinavian with French, Kofoed is always seeking new ideas on presentation as well as preparation, which might sound like a huge cliché, but the standards here are exquisitely high; they create decoration on desserts so delicate its quite unbelievable that they’re man-made.
Yes, it’s insanely expensive, yes there’s a huge waiting list, but there’s also the most enormous wine list if that makes it up to you. And it is the best of the best, after all.
(originally printed in C81 printed Journal Issue 1)