Saturday, September 15, 2007

Spoil Yourselves Rotten: Restaurant Geranium

Appetizer of King Crab with Cauliflower - purée and crudité. A small leaf of mint-flower and mint leaves for that hint of freshness. Way to start a meal.

Alright, people. I have never, ever done this before. What you're about to witness is a Food & Thoughts First. I'm going to try and do a restaurant review.

Why, you may ask, haven't I done this before? Afterall, this is one blog that's lived past the 3 year mark, is one of a very few - maybe the only one? - written in English, food blogs from Denmark. And yet, yet, the closest I ever got to mentioning a restaurant has been a very short remark here (which did prompt an e-mail from the owner after a guest he had mentioned they went there because they read that short notice - so obviously I have POWERS! Muahaha!) but other than that, the closest I've gotten to restaurants is the recipes from a couple of them that I've been tooting.

I just stared at this plate when it was put in front of me - is cooking art or handicraft? Scallops with beets - purée, raw in slices, cooked cubes - hazelnut mayo and fresh hazelnuts - blackberries, sweet cicely and chickenwort. This was probably my favorite dish of them all. I love the use of herbs, how they totally change the flavor of one bite from the next, depending on which one you happen to pick up on your fork. And yet, they all just matched the dish, seperately and together. Plus, scallops is probably one of my all time favorite food items. Crunchy fresh hazelnuts, bursting fall in your mouth. Lovely.

And there is, of course, an explanantion. You see, in case you didn't already know, for the last 8 years or so (and how on earth could you have been reading this site and NOT known??), I've worked as a waitress. I only very recently stopped - as in, it's been 8 months since I had a regular employer. Yes, I do still have an occasional shift here and there, but these days, I'm revelling in Friday and Saturday Nights Off. It's a whole new experience, I'm telling you.

Copenhagen is a very small city. We're a little more than one million people here and we have A LOT of gorgeous restaurants, but the people running them are a select few. So when you know one, you know a lot. At least by name and appearance, and who knows, you probably, at one time or the other, had a few night caps with every last one of them, or worked with them for a shift. I'm not saying this to sound like a big-shot. I doubt many of them would recognize me. But I know who they are. Somehow, like I said before, this makes me feel even more like an amateur. I don't like judging people, and more than anything, I don't like judging people I kind of know, but then don't, 'cause oh dear, what might they think of me and I'm only a wanna-be and... You can just tell how much I worry, right? Of course, there's also all the stuff about "do I really take photos at a restaurant??" and the whole fact-checking-enchilada that... Eh.

Jaw of cod, tortellini with pumpkin, pumpkin squares, onions, fresh lima beans and pumpkin bisque. Earthy beans and pumpkin combining with the flavors of the sea in form of the cod jaws, with the onions somehow like a lightly pickled one broke the intensity of the bisque in a perfect way, both with regards to texture and taste. The bisque was poured on top of the rest tableside, one of those nifty little, albeit often used, tricks I adore. The last of summer/beginning of fall in my mouth. I like that season.

On the other hand, I can't go on any longer and not let you all know that really, there is a reason you should all get your behinds to Copenhagen and eat your way through it. Not just because I say so, but maybe, just maybe, I could show you some pictures, add a few choice words and then YOU be the judge yourselves. And I can point you to Trine's blog, Good Food, and let you check out all of her reviews, while I try to secure my unsteady legs here in the unknown territory that is restaurant reviewing telling stories about restaurants. Please indulge me...

Probably the least favorite of all, but for some reason main courses are often a thing that doesn't speak that much to me - maybe it's just that there's more on the plate? Anyways - Pork with potato chiffonade, parsnips and parsley-pesto, wild mushrooms and "gravy". Everything was absolutely lovely, the parsnips maybe a bit on the crunchy side for me, the parsley maybe over-powering everything else? But I loved, loved, loved the potato chiffonade - I guess when it all comes down to it, I'm just a carbo-loving kinda girl!

For lunch this Thursday, Martin and I went to Restaurant Geranuim. This is one thing Trine reminded me of: go for lunch. It's cheaper, and you can take better shots. I'm on a steep learning curve here, and I'm looking to Trine for help - Thank you, T!:) Also, as Sam says, transperancy is everything, so I will mention that one of the waiters there is an old colleague of mine. The reason we went here for lunch is also because I did one shift there, helping them out when there was a sudden sickness in staff, and I got totally smitten with what I saw on the plates. I had to try it out while not apron-clad and in a white shirt, pouring wine for others. This time, I wanted wine poured for me.

Restaurant Geranium is the brain child of chefs Rasmus Kofoed and Søren Ledet. Rasmus Kofoed is a recent winner of the silver medal at the Bocuse d'Or (sort of a chef's world championship) and Søren Ledet doesn't come short of recommandations either: Chef of the Year 2004 (in Denmark, naturally), former co-head of kitchen at Noma (only the 15th. best restaurant in the WORLD) and generally speaking, just a world class chef. And I'm not going to start on the rest of the kitchen staff there, 'cause it would be all Chef of the year 2005, Best Young Chef etc. etc. You get my point.

Danish cheeses, clockwise from the front: smoked brie - røde Kristian - some goat's milk cheese washed in ashes that was VERY pungent - blue cheese, that I really liked, but sadly, have forgotten the name of. I'm like that with cheese names. With it we got a green tomato chutney, crispbread with muesli and pumpernickel. Yummy in my tummy, but I wouldn't have wanted to kiss me right after it ;-) (Martin's not that big on smelly cheeses - he loves his cheese alright, but is into the firmer kinds)

The philosophy of the restaurant is one of "unconditional love for the finest, pure ingredient" - they're pretty much organic and biodynamic throughout. The actual placing of the restaurant in Kgs. Have, one of the green breathing spots in the middle of the center of the city makes for a gorgeous backdrop for what they put on their plates. Large crocks of herbs are everywhere outside the windows on their little patio, and people are passing outside with strollers and dogs. Mighty pretty.

So simple, so perfect: blueberries (fresh and dried) with blackberry sorbet, "koldskål" (Traditionel Danish cold dessert "soup" made with buttermilk, eggs and vanilla) and kammerjunker (the traditional "cake" to go with koldskål) - oh yes, and caramelly, chocolate-y thing for garnish. And a couple of delicate lemon balm leaves. Yay! Not too much, not too little, just a little sweet something to finish off. I hope I'll remember the taste of those blueberries forever, they were unlike anything I ever had. And if i don't remember that, I hope I remember how much fun Martin and I had looking at our tongues when we finished. Heh!

As I said, I'm not going to be doing a review as such, but the pictures in this post I think pretty much speaks for themselves. A photo's worth a thousand words, right? What they serve there is nothing short of gorgeous, and for some reason (we are talking about big, broad-shouldered, wild haired chefs here) very feminine. Look at that scallop serving? Any girl worth her salt would swoon just looking at that.

Sweets with coffee: liqourice marshmallows, caramel-discs and pistachio-covered truffles filled with a dulce de leche-like confection flavored with eucalyptus oil. That last one - I'm sorry, but ick. I've never been fond of eucalyptus, so that might explain it. You try new stuff. It's all part of the learning curve, growing older and wiser, right?

There's no doubt the people here know what they're doing, and that they are exceptionally good at it as well. Scallops cooked to perfection (caramelized on the outside, just this side of raw on the inside) potato chiffonade you want to put your head to sleep on it looks so soft, perfect blueberries that leave your tongue all blackish-blue you daren't speak afterwards because noone will take your seriously with a tongue looking like that. People caring about what they do. The attention to detail. The light, the lovely light. The gorgeous food, the glorious wine - which, on a side note, I only remember along the lines of: riesling, white burgundy, riesling, red burgundy, riesling and monbazillac - and yes, we REALLY like rieslings, so we were close to heaven here.

This is most definitely a place to come back to. You should go, too.

Restaurant Geranium
Kgs. Have
Kronprinsessegade 13
1306 København K
Phone: 33111304
Open for dinner Tuesday-Saturday, lunch Tuesday-Friday.


Cathy said...

Everything sure looks good! Gorgeous photos Zarah - I think I like your approach to restaurant reviews :)

Anonymous said...

Lucky you! Read a review not long ago and will totally go there someday. But next stop is Madklubben.

Funny the bit about Copenhagen restaurant life. I know for a fact that we have less than six-degrees of separation on that front!

good food said...

Congrats on your new business area, Zarah! You're doing very - said the Jut's way as I just returned from a weekend in Jutland. ;)

Your photos are gorgeous, GORGEOUS, your descriptions precise, and above all, you tell your own story of your own experience. That's why I love it! Thanks to you!

(Can't wait until Thursday, where my lunch is going to take place ;-)

good food said...

Just noticed a typo: "You're doing well" - it should read instead. Maybe you can correct that and just delete this second comment from me?

Kevin Kossowan said...

Next time we're in Denmark, I'm going to hit you up for some restaurant recommendations before we go. That food looks fantastic!

Sara said...

Your pictures are wonderful - the food all looks stunning.

kate said...

I wish I was going to Copenhagen. The food looks simply delicious. The presentation is incredible ...

Dana said...

Such gorgeous pictures of the food. I found your site by chance and found it interesting you're so hesitant to review.

And, ps, do the people at the restaurant find it odd when you whip out your camera each time new food arrives? :)

Shaun said...

Zahra Maria - Your experience is well captured in this post. It is great to read restaurant experiences by other bloggers from all over the world. My partner and I often dream of going to Northern Europe, so reading your blog helps situate me in beautiful Denmark.

Sometimes I get so cocky and think I would love to cook for a living, but then I see what chefs are putting in front of guests, like at Restaurant Geranium, and then I tell myself it is just as well that I am a home cook - I could never compete at this level. However, there are wonderful ideas here to adapt to home cooking as well as presentation.

This is an interesting read. Thanks for all the details!

Jeena said...

Hi there you have a great blog,lovely recipes. Feel free to visit my blog too :)

Jeena xx

Click Here For Food Recipes

Zarah Maria said...

Cathy - thank you!

Jennie - let me know how Madklubben is! And yes, teeny tiny the restaurant scene is - but then, Copenhagen is too. I actually kind of like it! Who do we both know? I'm curious!

Trine - Thank you! That means a lot to me, coming from the expert!;-) (and unfortunately I can't edit comments, only delete them - Blogger is like that - eh!)

Kevin - you're more than welcome to! We do have a nice share of outstanding places - we're lucky!

Sara - thank you!

Kate - I was pretty amazed at the presentation, too. Art on a plate, for sure...

Dana - I am - or was, anyways - a bit hesitant. I think mostly because who the heck am I to judge? But that, as well as the photographing is just something I have to get used to, 'cause there are to darn many good places not to tell about them worldwide! Re. the camera - for these shots, I actually whipped out my camera phone - it's a bit smaller than my SLR! And I did try and do it rather discretely, but it felt just a tiny bit - weird. I don't think anyone really noticed it, and those who did was probably thinking: is she putting her phone into the soup and why on earth would she do that?!?:)

Shaun - Inspiration is everything! And I'm just like you - I sometimes think I would love to be a chef, but if I was to actually DO it, I would have to do it as the best - and I'm not sure I'd be willing to pay the price. Eh - luckily, there are definitely things you can do on a smaller scale, at home. Which is oh so cool, too. Thanks for stopping by!

Jeena - thanks!

Pragyan said...

Wonderful art indeed.

Anonymous said...

Used to hang out at Tyven... after hours, and sometimes the owners came by Sabines after work too.

Garrett said...

Damn, what a spread!!!

Jessica said...

Food presentation is everything! these plates looks absolutely beautiful. thank you for sharing them, the king crab looks yummy.

Allan Østbjerg said...

Lovely post, and absolutely lovely restaurant! :)

Was there on the opening night.

Thomas Iversen said...

Hi Zarah,

Just saw your great blog.

The great thing about these food blogs, is that you can have the pleasure of reading such a great description with fantastic illustrative pictures and not gain a single pound.

Thanks for sharing your experience on Geranium, which I agree is absolutely brilliant.


/Thomas Iversen

Pille said...

I cannot believe I never commented on this post? I loved the review - got a good sense of the food served. If I were a food editor, I'd hire you:)

Lasse Kruse Rasmussen said...

Dear Zarah.

I just found out through Facebook, that you had vour own Blog! and what a informative and nice blog you have there.

now I know why you can´t work evening shifts anymore.. (because of this blog) I think Riesling would change you mind, like in old day´s at TyvenKokkenHansKoneOghendesElsker.

Here almost 7 months after your visit I see the nice pictures and remember what a nice day it was, sun shining and good atmosphere all over. It was nice to see you in the restaurant, I hope you will look by in this summertime. It´s supposed that the terrase should be open more often. As you know it´s difficult to get staff, hopefully we will have enough staff to have open on all sunny days.

See you soon at Skål or on the streets.

Best regards Lasse Kruse

itz said...

Congrats Zarah
I myself run a restaurant in Madrid dASSA bASSA which is said to be one of the best
and run a little company managing showcookings with the best cooks in Spain.
I would follow your recommendations as I´m planning to go to Cp this summer

S Lloyd said...

Is it still closed?
Are they planning to re-open Geranium?

Zarah Maria said...

S Lloyd - sorry for the late response. It seesm the boys will be opening again, at a new location: check it out