Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Geranium Restaurant (Bocuse D'Or Winning Chef), Copenhagen, Denmark

It was with great expectations that we arrived at Geranium Restaurant. The chef and co-owner, Rasmus Kofoed had just won the the Bocuse D'or. However, Michelin granted Noma, another Copenhagen restaurant, 2 stars and the San Pellegrino World's 50 Best granted Noma #1 resto in the world status. Geranium only has a single "rising star" in the Michelin guide, not an official one star. The decor of this spacious restaurant is classically beautiful in a spare Scandinavian way.

Our first presentation was carrot and seabuckthorn. A crispy thin candied carrot shell filled with seabuckthorn foam. And then, many small dishes followed, with great attention to detail.

Beetroot and apple vinegar topped with cottage cheese.

Lumpfish roe and horseradish mayonnaise (on left).
Tomato foam, Danish ham gelee, lemon thyme flowers and clarified tomato essence. The conception of this dish was inspired but the tomato essence was too tart and overwhelmed the other flavours. Tomatoes in season would have been more mellow and perhaps sweeter. A great chef should be aware of this. Granted chef Kofed was not in the kitchen this day. 

Branches made from Danish cheese, with ramson (wild garlic leaves).

Crispy pork ear with vinegar and parsley on top.

Danish oyster and chopped cauliflower, cauliflower sauce, melted smoked cream cheese. Cauliflower and oyster are a good combination but the dish lacked any "wow".

Tapioca, garden sorrel, dill, king crab, apple juice,and cucumber topped with frozen crab juice. A tasty but overly complicated dish that just did not "sing".

King crab, tapioca, apple juice, dill, sorrel, cucumber topped with frozen crab juice. A tasty but overly complicated dish that just lacked any "wow". 

"Grain in two servings". Bread and butter. What can I say? Good but not great bread with very good but not great tasting butter. At this restaurant, everything should be great!

Crumbled Danish "hay cheese" with red, pearl and spring onions, watercress, crumbled bread (ie like fresh bread crumbs) and a sauce made of melted "hay cheese".  This was a good dish. The cheese and onion flavours and the texture of the crumbled bread were all highly complementary.

Slightly smoked potatoes with borage, crispy peas and a powder made of smoked grape seed oil, then after presentation, topped with a potato puree. This was a good dish with nice textures, but again, not a "wow". The flavours were a bit bland and the dish could have done with less sauce. The 3 photos below show how this dish was presented.

At this point of the meal, I began reflecting on the similarity of presentation of many of the dishes feeling a bit overwhelmed with the preponderance of whites incorporated in the presentations.

Monkfish with elements of the ocean. Monkfish, quail egg, squid ink flakes, a mussel, mussel gel, a variety of bits of seaweed from the beach and ocean, with some mussel sauce. I really enjoyed this dish.

The next 4 photos were how this course was presented. Bouillon made from lamb's breast was poured over wild foraged flowers, leaves and herbs. A very subtle soothing and nicely flavoured dish.

We were then presented with a "palate cleanser", a sea foam apple gel made from biodynamic apples, a lovely and innovative, refresher for our palates.

Then, braised veal tail with slices of Jerusalem artichokes,  Jerusalem artichoke puree and black truffle with crispy "puffed" pork lard was presented. The 2 photos below show the presentation.

A sauce made with brown butter, wild forest mushrooms and thyme, was added to the veal tail course. This was a very good dish, the sauce pleasantly rich tasting,

Frozen carrot juice. chervil stalks and preserved (pickled) elderflowers with white chocolate and  a "sparkling" elderflower sauce. The 2 photos below show the presentation.

This was a great dish, refreshing and considered by all, the perfect dessert and considered perhaps the best dish of the meal.

"Milk in mysterious ways": Biodynamic sweet milk yogurt, caramelized milk, sponge cake with milk protein, dehydrated milk ice cream, "milky way" shell with milk, clarified buttermilk whey with vanilla. This was a very good, thoughtfully creative dish

On reflection, after the conclusion of the meal, I had a sense of disappointment considering the praises this chef has received. There was an overwhelming perception of bleak whiteness of so many dishes. The minimalism of so many of the dishes compounded this feeling. Despite the serious consideration of each dish by the chef, some dishes just did not sing. It should be pointed out that the much praised chef was not working the night we attended, however, considering the caliber of this restaurant, that should not have been a necessity. Although many of my friends and acquaintances have often heard me say, one cannot eat atmosphere, from a purely aesthetic point of view, considering the furniture, the lighting and tableware, this restaurant has one of the most pleasing aesthetics of the many high caliber restaurants I have attended over the years.

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