Geranium ***

Geranium
Per Henrik Lings Allé 4
2100 København Ø, Denmark
+45 69 96 00 20
Website

Denmark’s capital, Copenhagen, is high on the list as the best city to eat on earth. The birthplace of New Nordic cuisine, and home to numerous world celebrated restaurants, also has the highest concentration of Michelin starred places in the region. The city was hailed as the gastronomic capital of Scandinavia. In 2016 when the Michelin guide promoted the restaurant Geranium to three stars, it further solidified the city’s status.

Geranium is the first and only three Michelin-starred restaurant in Denmark. It also claimed the top spot in the Nordic White Guide 2017/18, and currently ranked number 19 on the World’s 50 Best Restaurant list. With all the awards, the path to greatness was challenging for co-owners head chef Rasmus Kofoed, and Soren Ledet, the wine/restaurant director. They opened the restaurant in 2007 and was awarded a Michelin star a year later, but bankruptcy of an investor led to its closure. In 2010, the duo re-opened Geranium at its current location and regained the Michelin star in 2012. The second star came the following year and finally the third star in 2016.

Aside from the Michelin accolades, Chef Kofoed was the only person to win bronze, silver and gold at the prestigious Bocuse d’Or competition (the trophies are proudly displayed in the restaurants lounge area), and was voted Danish Chef of the year in 2003. He is arguably the most decorated chef in Denmark. His culinary career started at Copenhagen’s Hotel D’Angleterre before embarking to Belgium’s two-Michelin starred Scholeshof. After coming back to Denmark Chef Koefed took the reigns at the now closed two Michelin-starred Kommandanten (the first restaurant in Denmark to hold multiple stars), and held various head chef position in the city. His final stop before Geranium was the head chef position of Hotel D’Angleterre. Mr. Ledet on the other hand, was a former chef at noma turned sommelier. He curated Geraniums award-winning wine list that was recognized by Wine Spectator.

The restaurant is housed on the 8th floor of the Tiel Parken stadium, which is also home to FC Copenhagen, the most successful football club in the nation. Geraniums floor to ceiling windows provide a panoramic view of the surrounding area. The interior is stylish and strictly Scandinavian with white and gray color scheme. The open concept dining room is slated with natural wood floorings, neatly dressed oversize round tables, and custom made Danish-designed chairs and benches. There is an open kitchen in the front of the dining room giving diners a theatric aspect and direct view of Chef Koefed and his chefs in action.

A seasonal “Geranium Universe” tasting menu cost 2000 DKK (750 DKK deposit to confirm the reservation) is offered both lunch and dinner, which consist of fifteen plus courses.

To start, I was served a decadent custard of Lobster Milk, Juice from Fermented Carrots & Sea Buckthorn. The custard has layers of sweet, savory, and vinegary essence that comes together in harmony. At the bottom, are delicious pieces of lobster meat. Next, was the Jerusalem Artichoke Leaves, Hazel Nut Oil & Rye Vinegar. A pair of crispy chips shaped like a leaf from Jerusalem artichoke, and served with a tasty mayonnaise dip from hazel nut and rye vinegar.  This was followed by the “Razor Clams” with Mineral & Sour Cream. These ingeniously constructed edible razor clams made from wheat and squid ink, were delightfully filled with chopped raw razor clams, sour cream, tarragon and parsley.

Then came the, Tomato Water, Ham Fat and Aromatic Herbs. This was a small cup of tomato water served with a spoon filled with herbs and petals. The tomato water has incredible robust flavors. Mixing the herbs with the tomato water, as instructed by my server, releases the elegant aromatics of the dish. The “Dillstone” Trout, Horse Radish & Frozen Juice from Pickle Dill was a brilliantly conceived dish. Coated in dill and shaped to replicate a stone, the humble trout was elevated, and given a certain refinement. The chilled bitterness of the horse radish with pickle dill was the rightful cohort to the dill stone. The Nettles, Smoked Cheese & Dried Oyster had  rich smoky features, as well as having a clear oyster presence.

After six terrific appetizers, it was time to move on to the main dishes. The first course was a seasonal Danish delicacy; Smoked Lumpfish Roe & Fermented Creamy Cauliflower. The subtle lumpfish roe was given a touch of smokiness that went very well with the sharpness of the fermented cauliflower cream. Salted Hake, Parsley Stems & Finnish Caviar in Buttermilk was the second course, and also Geranium’s signature dish. This had delicate flavors that were heightened with the saltiness of the caviar. The buttermilk gave it the perfect hint of creaminess, while the fried fish scales provided the crunchy textures. Next was an enjoyable bread course of Crispy Grains, Bread with Old Grains & Gluten Free Bread with Seeds. Two types of bread and cheese sticks served with homemade butter.

The meal continued with the Scallop in Juniper Aroma, Flippa Reduction & Browned Butter.  Prepared tableside by Chef Koefed himself, the scrumptious scallop marine’s sweetness was magnificently lifted by the broth’s nuttiness.  Lightly Salted Turbot, Green Herbs, Celeriac & Pickel Pine was a tender piece of mildly seasoned fish with a nicely seared outer layer. In harmony with the turbot was the pleasant tartness of the celeriac sauce. Thevibrant herbs and its vegetal essence balanced all the component on the plate.  The following course was Tartlet with Fjord Shrimp, Sol & Pickled Elder Flowers, a tart filled with crispy shrimps, herbs and flowers comes with very good flavors. The final main course was the Stuffed Morels, Wild Mushrooms, Smoked Chicken Fat & Hops. The profound earthiness of the mushrooms and morels were combined exquisitely with savory lushness from the consommé of smoke chicken fat.

Prior to dessert I was given a tour of the restaurant. We started in the lounge area, which was separated by a marble center island table with an enclosed fire place, before proceeding to their wine storage. We continued to their private dining area, where we sampled in-house cured meats. I made my way to the back kitchen that looks down on the football pitch, before exiting to the dining room.

Back to my table, dessert began with A Bite of Beetroot, Blackcurrant, Yoghurt & Tagetes; a tiny ball caramelized in beets had a soothing sweetness while also having a lingering liquorish sourness. Served in pair, were the Ice Cream from Beeswax & Pollen, Dried Apples and Elderberries. The ice cream had a beautiful refreshing natural sweetness, while the bowl with dried apples and elderberries had a pleasing fruity dulcet.  For the final dessert, I was served the Caramel With Roasted Grains, Chamomile & Pear.  On the plate was a rich puffy mousse sweetened by caramel syrup, which was fittingly accompanied by grainy sweetness of the pear.

I opted to have the mignardises at the lounge where I was served Pumpkin Tree & Cake With Pumpkin Seed Oil, Caramel, Dried Plum Juice & Aromatic Seeds, Chocolate with Oats & Sea Buckthorn, Marshmallow with Rose Hip and Green Egg with Pine.  I had these confectionary delights with a cup of fresh Danish latte, carefully brewed in-front of me.

After fifteen or so courses and four hours later, the culinary marathon was sadly came to an end. This was an amazing meal that had plenty of unique and intricate flavor combinations, with different textures. One course after another continued to excite the palate while also appealing visually. The cooking focused and precise down to the very smallest details, and the use of local seasonal ingredients was remarkable. Chef Kofoed’s repertoire that won him numerous culinary accolades, and made him one of the top toques in the world was on display on my visit.

As with any place in Copenhagen wine marked up is ridiculously out of this world. It was no different at Geranium where the wine pairing cost 1500 DKK ($210). While there was a cheaper juice pairing, the restaurant was happy to accommodate my request of a mixture of wines and juice pairing for a lesser value at 1000 DKK. Having the best of both options, the juice pairing of Green Apples &Elderflower, Gooseberries, Sunflower Seeds & Tarragon and Cloudberry were creative and fascinating, especially with how their sweetness complemented the food properly. The same can be said with the four glasses of European wines as it adds an extra after taste.

The service was sincerely friendly and particularly attentive. Though the manner of professionalism were still on display they were still able to make it fun.  I was thoroughly impressed with the young and diverse staff on how well trained they were. Everyone that brought the food to my table, from the hostess to the chefs, and wait staff were equally knowledgeable, and very much involved in providing a dining experience. As with Chef Koefed, his presence in the dining room was very much noticeable. He served, performed table side preparation, and interacted with his guests, stopping by every table every so often.

Wine Pairing:

A meal at Geranium is costly but well worth the price of admission. There is no better restaurant in Copenhagen. For years it has lived in the shadow of noma but since its closure and the arrival of the third Michelin star, Geranium has undisputedly become the top dining venue in Copenhagen.

While three Michelin stars are the highest accolades that a restaurant can achieve, not all with this honor is equally in the same caliber. Geranium, on the other hand is the Creme de la Creme of these select group and rightfully one of the very best in the world. Dining at this restaurant was epic and unforgettable and will forever be etched in memory. This was New Nordic cuisine at its finest.

 

Aquavit

Dining Room

Aquavit
65 E 55th St
New York, NY 10022
(212) 307-7311
Official Site

The average life span of a restaurant upon its first day of opening in New York City is three months. During that time it will either make it or break it. Aquavit, on the other hand, has withstood the test of time in this city’s competitive dining environment. For 25 years it was the premier Scandinavian restaurant as well as a fine dining establishment in New York City. It has received numerous accolades and rave reviews throughout the years.

This restaurant was once home to celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson who made a name for himself while manning its kitchen. During that time Chef Samuelsson received a three star review from The New York Times making him one of the youngest chefs to accomplish such a feat. Now, Aquavit’s kitchen is under the helm of Marcus Jernmark (who was the executive sous chef up until Chef Samuelsson’s departure in 2010). His modern interpretation of Nordic Cuisine was recently awarded a star by the Michelin guide’s 2013 edition.

Aquavit has a lovely modern interior and an unconventional layout that is complimented with a wonderful Scandinavian fixture that was popularized by IKEA. This restaurant in Midtown East has a long lounge area with high ceilings visible as soon as you walk in. It has clusters of Danish designed egg chairs and aquavit jars displayed on the wall. Towards the back is the bar followed by a series of rooms that are used for private events. The medium size dining room in the front is decorated with beautiful chandeliers, dark wood flooring, and numerous round space tables in the middle along with arm less oxford and elbow chairs. Uncovered dark Mahogany table tops with comfortable leather booth seats are on opposite walls while the windows with street views serve as a back drop to Fortune 500 diners that mainly occupy the room at dinner time during weeknights.

 

 

 

 

In order to truly experience Chef Jernmark’s seasonal cooking; the $85 four course (an extra $55 for wine pairing) dinner is my personal recommendation. It allows the diner s to design each course from the menu. During lunch, a three course set menu is available for $35 dollars as well as an a la carte option for both times.

The kitchen has a few surprises to start up the dinner, like the chilled truffle soup served in a canning jar that when it’s opened it resembles a waterfall of smoke that is a prelude to the amazing things to come.

The Herring is a staple food to every Scandinavian country, so I had to have the Cold Smoked Holland Herring. I liked the smoky taste and zesty sourness from the pickled onions. The Herring Trio was pretty good as well as the Gravlax for starters. Then there was the Nantucket Sea Scallops that was presented beautifully on top of the shell inside a wooden box. The sea urchin with the scallops made this deep oceanic dish delectable.

 

 

The Day Boat Cod with cauliflower and caviar has a deceitful look of an uninspiring plate of whiteness, but once you have had a taste of the cod, with the cauliflower against the saltiness of the caviar it has a remarkable flavor combination. The Wild Mushrooms with poached eggs was another dish that was surprising. I loved the mushroom and the poached eggs were just an added goodie that made this plate more than delicious.

Meat dishes like Wagyu Beef “Rydberg” where the pieces of meat were juicy and the truffle jus created an earthy fondness to it. Then, there is the Swedish Meatballs with mashed potatoes and lingonberries. The meatballs were very moist and the lingonberries provided a touch of tartness as well as sweetness. While poultry options like The Crescent Farm Duck Breast with Foie Gras was also very good. The fatty foie gras with the tender duck meat went very well together and a similar style dish, Penobscot Chicken Breast, was pan fried perfectly.

 

 

 

 

There isn’t much selection when it comes to dessert s, but the Peach and Pistachio and the The Apple and Rye with caramel is an excellent way to end a meal with something sweet.

Aquavit has an extensive wine list that is derived from different parts of the globe. I once requested the Sommelier to pair my dinner with wine and it was done amazingly to my liking. But the flavor of the infused aquavits is a must to try here. There is a plum flavored aquavit for those that prefer a little sweetness, a Horseradish for a more potent taste, or an Asian Pear for those that enjoy a more fruity drink.

Way before the explosion of Nordic cuisine in New York City and the US, Aquavit had established its brand here. It is a pioneer and an institution in this city. I once dined at this restaurant a few years back and I vaguely remember anything, but I have enjoyed my recent visits .The staff are attentive and professional. Chef Jernmark’s brilliant technique and precision are seen on every plate that comes out of the kitchen. Having no recollection of a dish that I disliked, I realized how Aquavit has withstood the test of time.

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