- Visit Date: 14th April 2022
- Restaurant: Alchemist
- Address: Refshalevej 173C, Copenhagen, Denmark
- Telephone: +45 31 71 61 61
From the moment you arrive at ‘the big bronze doors’, you know you are at Alchemist. The door opens, the music ushers out, welcoming you to enter a world like no other. In this instant, there is a feeling, your sixth sense even, that acknowledges that you are about to experience something very special. Meaning this review will be reflecting that too.
Once coats are taken, and a scented warm napkin provided to freshen up with, you are then into a pitch-black room, and Act 1 begins. A violinist appears under a spotlight and begins playing. As she finishes and the light disappears, a warehouse style door starts to lift and unveils the next space to move into. Here you enter a big, high-ceilinged, beautiful room, displaying the most vast and impressive, all glass wine cellar I have ever seen, as well as the test kitchen. This area is the lounge.
Seated here firstly to have snacks and understand more about Alchemist, all explained by the utterly exceptional Kathleen, whose passion, love and knowledge is evident and very impressive. She explains how everything ahead of us is an impression, not a dish- it is considered everything consumed, including art installations such as the violinist, these just not being in an edible manner. It’s also explained here how the violinist, Lulu from the Copenhagen Philharmonic, was to help you separate from the outside world and your day, and immerse you fully into the experience.
Each impression as it comes is just incredible, and writing here simply doesn’t do it justice, you need to view the highlights to be able to understand and see it to believe it. Nothing equates quite like experiencing it, because they really do master tapping into your every sense and making an impact. Everything is in acts and scenes, in a very theatrical fashion, which feels appropriate given the stages being led through, and ultimately taking us into what will feel like a theatre in many ways soon.
In the lounge, Act 2, we have from the test kitchen the creative, technical, and scientific impressions. You’ll be able to match these in the order of all the photos below.
Daisy– The national flower, drunk like a shot- lemon verbena.
Greed – Icy goodness demolished as fast and greedily as intended.
Smoky Ball – Puffed ball, cream with langoustines, almond, caviar.
Dumpling– I loved this so much, silk sugar from Japan spun into candy floss, and then made into a fabric to stitch together the savoury components pak choi and a nam jim sauce; a sweet and savoury delight.
Space Bread– NASA research gastronomy in space is something they do at the test kitchen ( also working with Elon Musk )- a design concept to make a bread that is not baked, made from vegetable leftovers, sourdough aroma, freeze dried, and as we are still on planet earth, to have caviar with it too, beluga of course. Just brilliant.
Omelette– ‘The’ perfect omelette and it was delicious, topped with truffle, so fluffy and creamy inside. Strong enough to be picked up, and the burst of egg, followed by lardo and truffle in your mouth is good. Rich umami goodness.
Sunburnt Bikini – Homage to the ham and cheese bikini toasted sandwich of Barcelona, made with mochi dough.
Mojito – Washed down at the end with an edible cocktail, a gin and tonic. An aeration of the tonic water, gin and sea buckthorn.
From here we are led up the stairs, as Kathleen explains more about the wine cellar, and walking along the glass floor with even more wine below, a door then opens to reveal The Dome.
Here we are, at the beating heart of the Alchemist, and it’s time to venture into Act 3.
This act is divided into four scenes. Above on the dome are the amazing visuals, sounds and impressions that interconnect with what you are eating, or soon to.
1984– This was served while under the ocean, as The Eye, and the whole Big Brother is watching you vibes with TV screens appearing above in the zone, come later. The surveillance just highlights the world we do now live in and how much George Orwell was right about. I realised quickly that there were going to be no mild hints here about such things, this is in your face, make you think stuff, intertwined cleverly with good food, flavours, ingredients, ethics, music, sounds, visuals and just a massive amount thrown at all your senses at once. At the bottom, white asparagus, lumpfish roe and smoked lumpfish, very seasonal, caviar and gel made from the eyes of the codfish.
Ankimo – A sandwich made of monkfish liver, parfait, ponzu, mirin, between two crisps made from cod skin and seaweed butter.
Marine Invaders – Crab for others, with sea urchin ( I had caramelised celeriac on top ).
Lobster Claw – Their version of a lobster roll. Tail and claw into a salad, dipped into a lobster farce, and then into corn-starch and vodka, and then cryo fried- this was so crisp and light, the dip was smoked butter, horseradish, and fermented tomato. Holy moly this was delicious.
Plastic Fantastic – Visually drawing upon the plastic in the ocean, with the bags floating in the sea above on the Dome and a big reminder about something we all can make a difference with. Highlighting the issue how plastic is present in our fish and seafood, and ultimately in us. The cod fish is on the bone still, the jaw, so you can scrape it off with your teeth, it is brushed with smoked bone marrow and the edible plastic is made from collagen from the cod skin.
The Brill – Mousse of scallop and langoustine with brill (others had king crab) sauce of butternut squash, orange and chillies.
The Butterfly– Yes a real butterfly which has been fed on honey water…..on top of a salad of bok choy, apples, and a broth made of butterfly wings.
We had transitioned through a few dome screen changes throughout: underwater, plastic, Kyoto, the heart- which was very powerful, and then into the next scene which is where the Big Brother ones began, all linking in with what you have already experienced, eaten and learnt and the connecting factors as we move ahead.
Tongue Kiss- You put the tongue in your mouth and consume its contents- a Japanese Kiss, to be treated like a lover’s tongue, just enjoying what is on top- and not to bite it, as it is a silicone mould of a tongue. White asparagus, raspberry, yuzu, tofu, this impression is to invoke delight and disgust.
Breathless – This was so good, made with lamb lungs, smoked and braised, pickles, chanterelles, cracker of ‘smoker’s lungs’, fermented redcurrant.
Lamb Brain -Lamb brains poached in walnut oil for three hours, cooked but raw feeling, bread, cherries, strawberries.
Food For Thought- Presented in a head, diving into the mind of the man trying to change how foie gras is produced, Eduardo Sousa, and that you don’t need to force feed a goose in order to fatten goose liver. Again, a topic being highlighted that has an impact, the sound of geese around you. They feast and fatten themselves eating all his fruit, and they pay homage to him for how he produces his foie in a more sustainable and ethical way. This is cold and hot – the bottom is foie encased in madeira, and the top a frozen and aerated foie gras mousse.
Mycelium – Oyster mushroom gel, truffles, and oyster mushroom foam with a Jacu Coffee Kefir.
The Pigeon– The pigeon in wax, cooked in the beeswax too, grilled to add smoky aromas, breast of pigeon, Rasmus shares about this on the BTS too- this was so delicious, one of my favourite dishes, I loved it. Served with truffle, brown butter, fermented redcurrant sauce.
In the dome visuals above, we were now in an M.C. Escher version of the Alchemist above which was both surreal and utterly brilliant.
By this point I lost count of how many times my napkin slid off my leather skirt, kudos for the swift replacements offered every time, until I finally tucked it into my skirt to hold it in place. Yet another example of the sterling attention to detail, and the light-hearted vibe and environment as it became a running joke.
Airy Bread – Yum, this was very good. Bread made with potato starch as light as air, topped with emulsified yeast and brown butter and Joselito jamón and truffle.
Stuffed Morel– Morel juice, pickled mushrooms and walnuts.
Hunger – Wow this one evoked a big impact for me, just seeing the ribcage and thin rabbit meat on the ribs with some harissa. It makes you almost unsteady, but also made me massively have humility, sat there at a 2 Michelin star experience and having this in my face, good, it was like a slap, and a wakeup call to the reality of much in this world. Powerful stuff.
Fluffy Bao– A reduced XO sauce of oxtail and scallop, roasted shrimp, into a circle of coriander, and mop it up with the bao- sooooo much flavour here, it was amazing, I could have eaten this impression again and again.
Burnout Chicken– Well, this certainly gets you to sit up too. Animal cruelty needs to end and here, combined with the earlier visuals and sounds in the dome, you can’t get more in your face about it than a cage with a foot and claw hanging out. It’s a lot for some, and I observed this impression pushed some guests outside of their comfort zone.
You need to take the bird from its cage by grabbing the foot, and set it free. Soufflé made of the thighs, stuffed with shrimp, fried and brushed in sticky sweet Asian flavours, lemongrass, green chilli, tamarind and crispy puffed potato texture to top.
Once again very cleverly done, and I chose to post this on my own grid for the same reason, versus say a prettier dish image. It also tasted so very good too.
Cheers!- I was the naughty one, sorry Rasmus, and I did record this part briefly, it was too cool not to.
Force of Nature – Colostrum at the bottom, which has a silky texture, a real bee on top, dried in honey, and a honey sauce. There is sweetness from the honey, and acidity from the orange wood ants. A very clever dish.
Andy Warhol – The banana, a hibiscus ice cream hiding under the shell of the banana, made with apples, and zest.
A special mention here for the pine nut liquor as part of the tasting, it was like a really, really good, far better Baileys.
Lifeline– This one was a reminder about giving blood. Ice cream made from pigs blood. Filled with ganache of deer blood garam, blueberry and juniper
Macashroom– Lion’s mane mushrooms in the test kitchen. An interesting mushroom, as it has many benefits, such as neuroregenerative properties. Macaron. Meringue made from the Lion’s mane. Filled with an ice cream of shiitake. Freeze dried Lion’s mane to top. This was splendid.
Guilty Pleasure– A chocolate bar. There is a lot of child labour rampant in the cacao trade and the chocolate industry, helping to improve your chocolate buying choice, and improve the industry, I already am very aware of this via my own chocolate buying choices with Tony’s Chocolonely who opened my eyes and made me far more aware. The chocolate bar is shaped like a coffin, which says it all.
So many more changes in the dome throughout the last scenes, including beautiful Northern Lights. The wine pairing was really something else too, not surprising given their astounding wine cellar.
Now leaving the dome, and head into Act 4, and oh my goodness, nothing quite prepared me for this, you enter into a pink room. A bright neon pink room. There is a woman in a boiler suit stood with a pink bob wig and a countdown being played. I felt like I had walked into some warped episode of Lost and considered that maybe there had been acid in the chocolate, that was now starting to kick in.
Pink room, pink table, pink carpet, pink drink, pink wet rolled towel. The voice on the player, started and the pink haired woman mimed the instructions to match, to clean your hands, and throw the towel to the floor. There was a small pot with a cream custard like substance inside. The next instruction was to take your index finger and insert it into the pot, stir, and lick it off. Trying to do this while filming it was slightly challenging, but I got into the groove and rolled with it all. You’ll hear me squealing in delight at just how fun, brilliant, random and borderline erotic it all felt.
This place pushes your boundaries brilliantly. It’s very clever. From there to dancing around to Barry White with my pink drink with bubble lights, feeling transported to a totally different world, and then just like that, another door opens, signifying that it is time to leave. I kind of don’t want to leave the pink room, I’m loving it too much but off I go. This act was called Pinkwashing.
Entering now a very different dynamic, being the amazing kitchen where all of Rasmus’ team are present, lined up to greet, with a shout of ‘OI’, and all is explained operationally, as well as to showcase the giant screen that they use for all dietary requirements, and everything is displayed for service. It’s just another layer of excellent logistics, and no stone left unturned.
Act 5, the final act, is consumed upstairs. The final impressions.
Amber– A stone that is from Denmark and Rasmus has clear memories with as a child going to find amber on the beaches and biting into them to test, as they are a little softer than stone, this impression was almost too good to eat, it was so much like holding a piece of amber in your hand, and it tasted beautiful. Fresh ginger, honey and ants.
Cubic Margarita – Loved this edible cocktail, well I love a Margarita, blasted down cold and tasted great.
Tarte Tatin – Incredibly clever and visually stunning, puff pastry but the shape inspired by the lights and created in a very clever printed way to get the shape, and filled with apples and tasted amazing of course too.
This marked the end of the night and what was a 7 hour experience from stepping through those big bronze doors.
Sitting here to write this up, I can’t help but chuckle at some of the memories created. I immersed myself entirely in the experience, and lapped it up to the full, as I think is the only way to experience Alchemist.
By the end of the evening, and after I had interviewed Rasmus that very morning, I came to the conclusion that Rasmus is absolutely a trailblazer, and certainly a genius. To be accomplishing what he is at just thirty years old is incredible, and very powerful.
I think we should all sit up, listen, and take note. We all have the power to change the world a little at a time, and his message, and the impact the experience has, imparts so much more. You walk away thinking about key issues he has brought to your attention, to not ignore them, but to be aware of them, and I would like to think, to make such an impact that in your own life you want to do something about them too in your own way.
I simply cannot wait to return. I loved everything about the Alchemist. It’s an experience like no other, and I urge you to book and go and experience it for yourself. It has moved to the number one spot for me for now. Sorry Frantzén.
You’ll find a Behind The Scenes Highlight with Rasmus.
And then Highlights for Alchemist split into three parts.
My interview with Rasmus will be evolving in a different way and will be shared when it is ready.
#mymuybueno #mymuybuenochefs #mymuybuenovisits #eatlivelearn