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Three Michelin Stars, Copenhagen

Reviewed by Justine Murphy, CEO of mymuybueno –  September 2016

The entrance to Geranium is unusual. On arrival you take the lift to the 8th floor of the National Football Stadium, Parken, in Copenhagen. This made it all the more exciting and so very different.

Geranium was set up by Rasmus Kofoed and Søren Ledet and first opened its doors at the King’s Garden in Copenhagen in 2007. The restaurant closed in 2009 then reopened in 2010 at its current location. Co-owner and executive chef Rasmas Kofoed won his first Michelin star in 2012 and his second a year later. In the spring of 2016, Geranium was awarded its third Michelin star and was the first restaurant in Denmark to receive this honour.

Rasmus is the only chef to ever have received gold, silver and bronze medals at Bocuse d’Or (the most utterly prestigious gastronomic competition in the world) in 2005, 2007 and 2011. Super talented.

With its panoramic park views, you are completely surrounded by nature in Geranium. It is all so very fitting and you can see from where Rasmas draws a lot of his inspiration.

My initial impression of Geranium was tarnished somewhat when we were asked by the hostess who served us initially if we had any allergies. Every Michelin star restaurant in which I have ever eaten is already pre-informed about this at the booking stage, and then this is always the moment when that information is re-confirmed – “Mrs. Murphy I believe you have an allergy to crab etc.” This puts my mind at rest, as it means the kitchen are fully aware prior to my arrival of my severe allergy, so it was disappointing that they seemed unaware, and more so, when they then questioned just how allergic I was. Needless to say, this intrusive line of questioning made me uncomfortable. Having my guest clearly point out that if I ate crab, I would go into anaphylactic shock and die did drive the message home but left a nasty taste in both our mouths. The professionalism was hugely lacking and the hostess did not represent a one star establishment at all, let alone three.

We soon moved on from this, as the food started to come and, like Noma the day before, was presented by each chef, which was lovely. It limited our interaction with the hostess, and of course set us off on our Geranium journey afresh. 

I must highlight my other negative though, which was our table seating. I think our table was the only one in the entire restaurant that didn’t have a view of the open kitchen. Every other table had this angle and it was a shame to have missed this hugely important element. Facing the other way would have only provided us with a view only of an island in the centre of the room, so that was not an option either. It felt a little strange to have been seated like this and miss the kitchen in motion.

There were so many dishes and it was a full afternoon of much eating, which meant I sadly had to skip my dinner at Amass that evening, as I just was so terribly full after my lunch at Noma the day before and dinner at 108 in the evening. Big lesson for the future – when embarking on a food tour, one day per restaurant is absolutely adequate.

The Autumn Universe was the apt title for this highly anticipated menu, as it was October when I visited and the surrounding trees of Copenhagen were lined with glorious autumn hues.

The meal opened with a choice of champagne by the glass which was explained perfectly.

The opening dish was Lobster, Milk and Juice from Fermented Carrots and Sea Buckthorn. This was delightful – a beautiful succulent lobster (both claw and body) covered in a silky set milk and some bright orange, fermented carrot juice, finished with a few drops of sea buckthorn oil. This orange goodness was subtly sweet and savoury and worked very well with the lobster.

Jerusalem Artichoke Leaves, Walnut Oil and Rye Vinegar. Visually beautiful Jerusalem artichoke leaves, which were light and crisp, accompanied by a creamy walnut oil and rye vinegar dip/emulsion. The combination was perfect, with good earthy flavours from the artichoke, which were subtly enhanced by the vinegar.

The combination was perfect, with good earthy flavours from the artichoke, which were subtly enhanced by the vinegar.

Tomato Water, Ham Fat and Aromatic Herbs. This was a small bowl with tomato water, tomato jelly and ham fat oil, served with aromatic herbs. The latter was served on a spoon, which you stirred into the tomato water. This was a very elegant appetiser with super intense flavours and a wonderful aftertaste – fresh, but with great depth from the ham.

Charred Potato in Aroma from Bark and Sheep’s Butter. This worked nicely and was a playful twist on the classic potato and butter combination.

‘Dillstone’ Mackerel, Horseradish and Frozen Juice from Pickled Dill. Now with this one, our hostess (who we shall not name) revealed that there was a surprise inside, see if you can guess what it is. My guest tasted first, then said stop, as she thought that it might have been crab. We called another server to ask what the content was. The hostess came running up to confirm that it was not crab and that she would not have made that mistake, but such was our distrust of her by this stage, we just didn’t feel at ease. Not great. However, once knowing that it was definitely mackerel, I relaxed and tasted away. The raw mackerel was coated with a pure and intense-tasting dill jelly and paired beautifully with a dill-cucumber granita and horseradish crème. These were sterling flavours and it was really lovely to see such traditional Nordic ingredients as dill, mackerel and horseradish being used so creatively.

Next came the ‘Razor Clam’ with Minerals and Sour Cream. What a delight, a genius creation. It was an edible razor clam shell with a filling of chopped raw razor clam and sour cream seasoned with tarragon, parsley and a touch of lime zest. An exquisite bite with such refined flavours and wonderfully delicate textures. This was truly exceptional.

An exquisite bite with such refined flavours and wonderfully delicate textures.

Then was time to move on to the main dishes, starting with Celeriac, Scallop, and Dried Trout. A delicate and crisp tartlet with a beautifully light filling of scallop and cured and dried trout flakes, with an accompanying dish of strips of roasted and pickled celeriac, sandwiched together with lemon verbena leaves, garnished with purple thyme, and served with a delicately flavoured scallop coral and brown butter bouillon. Gentle, perfectly balanced flavours that really worked together well.

Salted Hake, Parsley Stems and Finnish Caviar in Buttermilk. This was thinly sliced, salted hake (dry marinated with parsley ash and then lightly smoked) and a thin disc of clear tomato jelly, served with a creamy buttermilk, parsley stalk and Finnish caviar sauce and finished with a spoonful of crunchy fish scales. The dry marinating had resulted in a marbling effect, making for an extra, beautiful visual ingredient. A fantastic pairing with a wonderful series of textures, the buttermilk adding just the right touch of creaminess, and the caviar giving the dish a deliciously long finish. The parsley offset the salty/briny flavours in this dish perfectly.

Crispy Grains, Bread with Old Grains and Gluten Free Bread with Seeds. It was an interesting concept to bring the bread as a main event but it broke up the dishes well, as the ones served prior to this course were very pure and light in nature. I found the dishes that followed to have more intense and comforting flavours and this course led us to the next part of the menu nicely. It comprised of gluten-free rolls with pumpkin seeds and sourdough rolls with old grains and cheese-flavoured crispy grains served with whipped buttermilk and seasoned with red sorrel. These were light and airy and really delicious.

Creamy Vegetables, with Oyster, Cauliflower, and Pickled Elderflowers. This was a grilled oyster, fresh peas, marinated cauliflower and pickled elderflowers, covered with a creamy emulsion of potato, leek and parsley which had been turned into a light foam. It was a lovely dish with warm flavours and so very light and creamy.

Wild Herbs, Leek, Smoked Pork Fat and Melted ‘Vesterhavs’ Cheese. Charred young summer leek, nasturtium, various edible flowers, soft and runny quail’s egg yolk, some caviar and smoked pork fat, complemented by a delicious, mildly acidic Vesterhavs cheese sauce. A delightful combination of warm flavours – the egg yolk delivering lovely richness without overwhelming the other ingredients. Best of all was the cheese sauce, which provided delicate but perfect umami flavours. This was comforting but refined, and overall a very satisfying dish.

Best of all was the cheese sauce, which provided delicate but perfect umami flavours. This was comforting but refined.

Jerusalem Artichokes, Sorrel Leaves and Jerusalem Artichoke Sauce. This was light and delicate, with a heavenly creamy sauce with depth of flavour. I am always slightly disheartened when presented with a vegetarian dish as my crab substitute, as it would have been nice to have another shellfish option offered, however it was lovely all the same. My guest had the King Crab, which she said was excellent.

Grilled Pork on the Bone; Pickled Pine, and Blackcurrant Leaves. This meat course was an extremely elegant dish of pork rib, which had been slowly braised for ten hours, then grilled, smoked, and glazed with a grilled pork reduction, brilliantly paired with a pork and blackcurrant leaf oil, pine essence and some sweet pickled and confit garlic. Expertly cooked pork with intense and robust flavours and a stunning pork sauce with a sublime depth of flavour. A kohlrabi moon gave texture, crunch and a freshness to cut through the rich pork flavours, and wild herbs and flowers from the forest were used to decorate the pork, which created a spectacular finish to the dish, both in flavour and in fragrance. You eat this dish with your eyes and nose first – such balanced ingredients really showcased at their best.

Moving on to the dessert.

A Bite of Beetroot, Rhubarb, Yoghurt and Tagetes. This was a thin and crisp beetroot sphere which housed a smooth sheep’s yoghurt mousse filling, dusted with rhubarb powder, and garnished with borage flowers and marigold leaves. A delicious flavour sensation indeed, and one that worked remarkably well.

Ice Cream from Beeswax, Pollen and Honey with Blueberries. This was a delightful dish of blackberries marinated in black honey with some elegant floral juices, garnished with flowers, and accompanied by beeswax ice cream with honey and bee pollen, which was finished with a sprinkling of pollen dust. An elegant and pleasing combination and I could honestly have kept eating the ice cream all day long, it was so smooth, delicately creamy, and just perfect.

I could honestly have kept eating the ice cream all day long, it was so smooth, delicately creamy, and just perfect.

Wood Sorrel and Woodruff. A visually stunning dessert of woodruff and white chocolate mousse, covered with a thin layer of chervil jelly, topped with iced wood sorrel pastilles and a beautifully made crisp “twig” from plum. A really light and refined dessert – this really impressed me.

Finally there was a liquorice skull with a liquorice mousse filling. A playful end to the meal, but I wasn’t quite sure of its relevance after such beautiful, refined, elegant dishes – it seemed a little out of place. The skull confused me, and although they said it symbolised the end of the meal and represented ‘Skål’ which means ‘Cheers’, in Danish, it just felt like it was the ending from a completely different meal than the one just eaten. The previous dish of the wood sorrel would have been the perfect sweet ending.

Afterwards I had a tour of the kitchen, which I will share with you on a later posting. It was quite a surprise seeing the pitch from the kitchen and pretty awesome too – and I’m not a football person. It was lovely to meet Rasmus himself, although he was in full genius focus creating a new dish. The wine cellar was probably one of the best I have ever been to, containing an extensive selection of sterling wines.

We then were led to sit in the lounge area, and they closed the dining room with curtains. Coffee was enjoyed and some delightful Petit Fours of Caramel Cake with Pumpkin Seed Oil, which was absolutely perfect, Chocolate with Oats and Sea Buckthorn, and Green Egg with Pine. A nice final bonus and some of the best Petit Fours I’ve had, with much thought given to them.

Wine:
A wonderful selection of their choosing which worked well.
Fleur de Passion, 2006 Champagne
Odinstal 2013 Riesling
Morgon 2014
Favourite Dish: ‘Razor Clam’ with Minerals and Sour Cream
Least Favourite Dish: The Liquorice Skull
Napkin Fold: Yes.
Menu to take home: Yes. In fact, delightfully, one was presented at the start of the meal in an envelope with a welcome note, so that we could to refer to it at the table, and then another, updated with my leek dish that replaced the king crab, came in a card that I could also take away with me.
Meal for two, including wine, water and service: £750.
Final Thought: Bar the hiccup at the start with the allergies, and then the table seating also, the food was simply flawless. Most of all, they were clever creations with such subtle flavours, all exquisitely brought together in the palate and truly allowing each ingredient to express itself, as well as work in a beautiful symphony with others. However, a final sour note was that I had paid a deposit for the booking, and only upon my return it was noted that this had not come off the bill. A refund of the deposit was therefore requested, and duly given. This was an administration error not expected from a three star restaurant, and the same goes for the other negative points, which are not good enough. The whole joy of visiting a three Michelin star establishment is that everything should be absolutely perfect from start to finish, and despite the middle part being the utterly wonderful food, I cannot help but be disappointed by the issues highlighted, especially for the money you are parting with. It was still a sterling experience, however.
I also have some behind-the-scenes photos, which I look forward to sharing with you at a later date.

Geranium
Address: Per Henrik Lings Allé 4, 8. DK-2100 Copenhagen Ø
Telephone: +45 6996 0020
Hours: Evenings Wednesday to Saturday 6.30pm – 9pm (6.30pm – 12am)
Lunch Wednesday to Saturday 12pm – 1pm (12pm – 3.30pm)
Website: http://www.geranium.dk/en/