A First Look at Geranium 2

Timing couldn’t be better as today, Rasmus Kofoed leads Denmark to a Bocuse D’or victory! Congratulations, Rasmus & Team!

Skip this blurbage/intro if you actually want to read about the restaurant!

I over-think things.  I imagined that I would have some cohesive way to write about all the restaurants & thoughts in my head.  I was trying to determine what group of restaurants or locations to discuss first.  Now, I have a healthy respect for the dedication it requires to maintain a blog (or a serious case of verbal diarrhea).  Most people would know me as a proverbial nomad of hobbies.  I would rather describe it as “hardcore adhd” – I like to be very good at what I do, regardless of the different subjects.  But oftentimes, I hesitate (my dear wife knows this as there are a pile of projects that need to be done around the house).  Making a WordPress account, setting up a couple of short posts wasn’t too difficult, but actually committing verbiage was difficult.  No longer – time to start writing.  ps. I doubt there will be any semblance of chronology in my posts (hoping to write about the less-known places). It’s all relative, I’m sure, as we went to a lot of recommended places by Trine (very good food) & Food Snob (see the links below for their sites).

[October 9, 2010]

This was the second day of our Copenhagen visit and the first dinner of the evening.  Because we don’t have unlimited time to travel, we had to apply the hobbit lifestyle of “dinner, then supper”.  There were way too many restaurants in Copenhagen to check out in 4 days (and most restaurants don’t open for lunch or on Sundays/Mondays).

Copenhagen is a very tight knit food community and this theme will arise in other posts (more so than any other city I’ve ever visited).

Our reservation was at 6pm and the restaurant is in the park area, north-west of the core.  Our taxi dropped us off at this fence barricade/pedestrian lane and we hoped that it was the right place.  As we walked up to the unremarkable building nearby, we realized it was just finishing it’s construction mode and was indeed the right place.  The elevator had only one destination, on the 8th floor: Geranium.

In many of Copenhagen’s food scene discussions, Geranium comes up quite often.  Head chef, Rasmus Kofoed, earned a Michelin Star (in their 2008 Main Cities of Europe guide), 77th rank on Restaurant Magazine’s Top Restaurants of the World 2009, and won the European Bocuse d’Or in 2009.  Unfortunately, the original restaurant closed due to a disagreement with the ownership group. Fortunately, for all of us, Geranium version 2.0 was reborn on September 22, 2010.

As we arrived early & before service, we were greeted by the hostess and an empty restaurant. Uniquely enough (at least to me), the service crew were wearing dark grey, long smocks with wide belts and our hostess had “smart” glasses on. Reminds me of elves with a grey theme.

We didn’t converse much, but Chef Rasmus walked up to us and greeted us with a comment on the view of the beautiful sunset. The restaurant has awesome views of the park and the rest of Copenhagen with their 2 walls of floor to ceiling windows.

After we sat down in the lounge/waiting area and while perusing the menu, we munched on these amuses:

Carrot Ball with Sea Berry & Blueberry Juice

Beet root roll with apple jelly

Salted Dutch cracker

Mayo to go with the Dutch cracker

The amuses were decent, especially the beet root roll.  The Dutch cracker reminded me of a Pepperidge Farm’s Goldfish (not in a bad way necessarily), but in colour and flavour profile and formed like a branch.

The menu has a bunch of different tasting options, with their regular menu (protein based), their Green menu (vegetarian) and their Universe menu (I’m assuming it is their secret “kitchen sink” tasting as there isn’t a description on the site) . I’m fairly certain we would have considered the Universe if we weren’t going to Restaurant Relae afterwards.

We were particularly interested in the Green menu, as we’ve never had a pure veg tasting menu before. We also went with the juice pairings.

After we chose our menu and drink options, we were seated in a comfy, round, corner booth. Here’s the view from the corner. The kitchen was in the opposite corner and the “bar” was to the back of left side.

Here are the main dishes: (see the full photo set on Gizelle’s Flickr)

cucumber / sheep’s milk yogurt, dill & horseradish

cabbage / herbs & leek flowers

celery & celeriac / rye & apples

The first few dishes of cucumber, cabbage & celery were quite subtle, but refreshing as the main ingredients were the focus of the dishes.  Deceptively simple, as there were so few ingredients.

“grains in two servings”

#1 spelt & barley loaves

#2 fried bread with onions & aged cheese

With the two bread courses, we were given a new centerpiece with grain sheaves in a small vase.  The first came in a basked and was composed of spelt + barley loaves, still warm from the oven.  The most traditional/non-modern dish of the evening.  The second was definitely more in line with the rest of the menu.  “Fried bread” definitely aligned with my comforts of bread, onions & cheese – we couldn’t help but compare to AOC’s version from the previous night.  AOC’s was in traditional bun form, but they were both pretty good.

jerusalem artichoke / leek & verbena

The Jerusalem artichoke dish was decent, although I can’t remember too much else from memory (I should do what Docsconz does and bring a recorder!).

wild & pickled mushrooms / chestnuts

When it comes to crumble & nuts (reminded me of Langdon Hall’s version with cepe crumble), it’s hard to go wrong for us.  There were a variety of wild mushrooms, some in raw form, while others were pickled and with a nice chestnut crumble on top.  This was paired with “mushroom juice”, a tea-coloured drink (think distilled mushroom) which was strange at first, but matched very well with the dish.

roasted potato / pea sprout & pea flower

“Roasted Potato” – with a gratin top, similar in appearance to creme brulee, was definitely a comfort dish for me (“i love carbs”).  Probably the heaviest dish of the evening, it was rich without being too heavy.

foamy juice / biodynamic apples

Also acting as a palate cleanser, this dish rang out as “pure apple”.

elderflower beer & preserved elderflowers / herbs with a taste of licorice

In terms of presentation, I enjoyed the beer ice cream, served in what appears to be a laser or plasma-cut beer bottle.  Flavour wise, it was pretty good, although I can’t see myself sitting in front of the television, eating a big bowl of it (although I’m sometimes known as an ice cream monster)

wood sorrel & woodruff

The last dish of the evening was “wood sorrel & woodruff”. Sorrel popped up reasonably often during this trip and this dish was intended to describe soil textures, branches & leaves.  This was accomplished with sorrel, chocolate ‘branches’, white chocolate underneath and Spanish chervil leaves.  An interesting combination and a good way to finish of the meal.

Overall, the dishes were executed on a very good level.  Quite pleasing in terms of taste (definitely some new ingredients for me), while highlighting particular foraged ingredients or local favorites.  Nothing ever got too complicated or heavy, both good things in my world. In terms of the drinks, there were some interesting juice pairings, like “soiled mojito” and mushroom juice that come to mind. As a juice pairing “rookie”, I’m not convinced about the value (think medium priced wine pairing).   They were good pairings and flavours, but it’s hard to justify at 70% the cost of the tasting menu.

Would I return?  Definitely.  Did it blow my mind? Not necessarily. But – it has definitely had me contemplating quite a bit in the last couple of months. When we plan another trip out to that neck of the woods and get a reservation for Noma (we booked our trip with only a few months notice), I will be excited to return to Copenhagen to see what Chef Rasmus & his team has in store.  With the northern European nations sweeping this year’s Bocuse d’Or, their region’s cuisine is definitely in the limelight.

Geranium 2
Per Henrik Lings Alle 4,8
2100 Copenhagen

Telephone: +45 69 96 00 20
Wednesday-Saturday 6 to 9pm (6pm to 1am)

Website: http://www.geranium.dk/

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2010 Top Ten Restaurants

As I reflect on the last couple of years, I’ve come to recognize how blessed we’ve been to have eaten at so many fantastic restaurants in just a couple of short years.

This year was primarily focused on Europe (2 trips), but we had a pleasant trip to Chicago for an extended 4th of July weekend.

I’m writing this in our hotel room at the Vdara, so I can’t go into too many details right now.  We’re heading to Joël Robuchon at the Mansion (MGM Grand Casino Resort in Las Vegas) tonight, but here’s my quick top 10 best restaurants of 2010 (in no particular order):

1. Restaurant Aqua, Wolfsburg, Germany

2. Geranium 2, Copenhagen, Denmark

3. The Sportsman, Seasalter, UK

4. Alinea, Chicago, USA

5. Hof van Cleve, Kruishoutem, Belgium

6. De Librije, Zwolle, The Netherlands

7. L’air Du Temps, Eghezee, Belgium

8. Auberge de la Grenouilliere, Montreuil, France

9. Sollerod Kro, Copenhagen, Denmark

10. Kiin Kiin, Copenhagen, Denmark

Honourable Mentions: The Fat Duck (Bray, UK),  Ledoyen (Paris, France)*, Parkheuval (Rotterdam, Netherlands), Facil (Berlin, Germany), Restaurant AOC+Relae (Copenhagen, Denmark), Vie (Western Springs, USA), Harwood Arms (London, UK), Langdon Hall (Cambridge, Canada)

Missed restaurants: L’Arpege (cancelled due to fire), Chez l’Ami Jean (closed on arrival), In De Wulf (missed our ferry+car rental wouldn’t stay open), Schwa (stoves weren’t working that afternoon), Herman (we were staying at the Nimb, but couldn’t fit any more restaurants in)

* I was quite ill during the meal and could barely eat a bite of each dish.  Unfortunate, especially with the hefty price tag.

Happy New Year – may you have a great 2011!

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hello world.

The first utterance from the womb – “hello world”.

I know there is a default hello world message via WordPress, but the nerdo in me (doodled in code ever since Basic, back in grade 4?) required this first test.

There are many great food blogs out there, but there is a strange need to get your thoughts out there in the twitter/blogosphere.

I don’t know if this will be a restaurant review site, but let me try it out and see what happens.   I’m going to focus on mostly international places, but may end up writing about the local Toronto haunts.  Your thoughts as always are welcomed – I don’t mind flames, although I fire back :)

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