Copenhagen: Geranium (Oct. 2013)
Exec Chef: Rasmus Kofoed
October 25, 2013
I’m kind of posting out of order here. I have some past meals from Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Copenhagen that I should be covering, but I already have this post ready… so I’m just going to publish it! (I don’t know how long the Noma posts are going to take…)
Geranium’s a name I hear get mentioned alongside Noma a lot when people talk about the best restaurant in Copenhagen, and after eating there I can see why. The flavor and ingredient combinations are exciting and very technically precise. Also, the plating is gorgeous—the presentation of each course was very beautiful. I can see why some people believe that Geranium is as good as Noma. Chef Rasmus Kofoed is a vegetarian, and that seemed to shine through in this meal. It wasn’t very protein-heavy at all, and in a lot of ways it was just as, if not more, vegetable-focused as Noma was.
Geranium reservations are a LOT easier to get than Noma ones. You have to make your reservation three months in advance at a specific time for Noma, while I made my Geranium reservations on the same week. We went for lunch, though, and I’m not sure how easy dinner reservations are to make—during our lunch, the restaurant actually wasn’t even full. There’s slightly more food for dinner, but apparently the lunch tasting menu is close enough. (I mainly chose lunch because of the lighting. Pictures of food during dinner for my iPhone are always terrible haha.)
The restaurant’s on the eighth floor, and it has a beautiful view of the surrounding area. There’s a lot of green to look at, and eating in the fall allowed us to see a wide range of vibrant colors. The view actually reminded me a lot of Per Se’s view of Columbus Circle and Central Park.
The service here felt a lot more formal than Noma’s. Everyone in Noma seemed super happy and laidback, while the staff at Geranium exuded more of a formal dining aura—kind of what I’m used to at Per Se in NYC. The staff is still really nice, though, and they’re still more laidback than, for instance, waiters at the stricter French restaurants in NYC or Europe.
You get two options of tasting menus for lunch, a longer 3-hour tasting or a shorter 2-hour tasting. Naturally, we went for the longer version. Lunch was a mix of canapés to be eaten with our hands and individual courses. There wasn’t necessarily a strict transition from canapés to actual courses, but the closest to an actual “transition” would be when they give out the bread.
Crispy grains from Kornly (a kind of Danish cheese).
Crispy carrot and sea buckthorn.
Raw pear and lemon verbena.
Sunchoke (Jerusalem artichoke) chip and mayo whisk with walnut oil.
Oyster leaf with trout roe and parsley.
Crispy salmon skin with mustard from Bornholm, Denmark.
Dried flowers and dried apple.
Boletus edulis (porcino mushroom) soup and pickled quail egg yolk.
Charred potato and sheep’s milk butter with sorrel and… some plant.
Burnt leek, elderflower gelée, and pine.
Something bark (I unfortunately forgot), thin rye, and onion purée on the chip.
Celeriac chips with seaweed salt. Served with mayo with søl (a red seaweed).
Uni, yogurt, and pickled elderflower.
Jellied ham and tomato water with sorrel flowers.
“Dill stones” (dill gelée filled with smoked mackerel), horseradish sauce, and pickled cucumber granite.
We were supposed to get each dill stone and dip it into the horseradish sauce, mixing it with the cucumber granite.
Milky cheese with jus of fermented carrot.
“Razor clams”. This was a clam salad inside a thin cracker shell painted with squid ink.
For those who have eaten at Atera in NYC, this was actually very, very similar to the “razor clams” featured there.
“Vesterhavet” sea buckthorn, heather, and moss.
Sourdough bread made with emmer and spelt. Served with garlic butter.
Onions, chamomile, and melted hay cheese.
Lightly smoked mussels, terragon, cream, and algaes.
Cod cheeks and fermented cabbage.
Lightly grilled venison seasoned with smoked pork fat and juniper. Served with a sauce made from dried berries, venison, trumpet mushroom, and beets.
For some reason, this course wasn’t too delicious. The venison just wasn’t that flavorful. Also, there was something about the sauce… I think it may have seemed too acidic; I’m not sure. There was just something about the course overall that made me dislike it. I’m having a hard time describing it :(.
White chocolate cream with wood sorrel gelée on top. Served with granite of sorrel.
“Fallen apples”, elderberries, dried leaves, and juice from Danish apples.
For the final dessert and course, they moved us to a table (with Chef Kofoed’s three Bocuse d’Or trophies on it!) in the kitchen. We sat behind the three trophies (he won in 2011!) and faced the service kitchen, where the kitchen staff greeted us with a warm smile and then served our dessert.
“Naked Trees”. Crispy puréed prunes, frozen “disc” of dark beer, and biodynamic cream infused with beech wood.
Chef Kofoed thinks that this is his best dish at Geranium so far. He likes it because it’s apparently a good representation of Denmark right now, especially during wintertime. The trees are “naked” without leaves, just like the “tree” here. There are very strong, crisp flavors, and the dark beer and cream added a crispness and creaminess to the dessert.
I honestly preferred the white chocolate and wood sorrel gelée dessert (the first one) more, as I thought that that dessert was more delicious. However, I can see why Chef Kofoed likes this course so much. It’s a really creative combination of flavors and a wonderful representation of nature.
“Green egg” made from chocolate caramel and pine.
As with most of my meals lately, there were some hits and misses. The standouts were the oyster leaf and ikura (course 5), charred potato and sheep’s milk butter (course 9), dill stones (course 15), and white chocolate cream with wood sorrel gelée (course 24). Those courses were all as delicious, beautiful, and true joys to eat. Unfortunately, this meal was not without its misses. I thought the burnt leek and elderflower gelée (course 10), celeriac chips (course 12), onions and hay cheese (course 20), and venison (course 23) could have been better. I should note that I probably would have found the razor clams (course 17) to be amazing if it weren’t for the fact that I have had similar razor clams three times already at Atera.
Overall, though, I had a great meal. It’s a shame that the restaurant wasn’t filled while we were there. People should also make a stop by here when they fly to Copenhagen for Noma.
We had some really creative and delicious dishes here, and I can see why Chef Kofoed scored so highly at the Bocuse d’Or competitions. His food is very technical, and the flavor and texture combinations are very precise. I do have to say, though, that the Noma kitchen seemed to take more risks. In a way, the food at Noma was more exciting, and it was really cool to see the different things that the Noma kitchen did with their food. However, they still did some pretty amazing things with the food at Geranium. And the presentation of the food was BEAUTIFUL; I think the plating there was one of the best I’d seen in a restaurant in a long time.
I do kind of wish my meals in Copenhagen had more protein, though. I’m curious to see what Chefs Redzepi and Kofoed can do with a more protein-heavy meal… I guess that would go against their philosophies, though. Oh well! The meals were wonderful regardless.