Sometimes serendipity smiles on you. Not taking into account that most kitchens in copenhagen close by around 9pm – I had left dinner a little late for the first night after day one at MAD2. It was 9:10 and things were looking bleak I was starring down the barrel of a kebab or takeaway pizza. This was not what what I had envisioned for my first night in a city becoming rightly famous for its new Nordic cuisine.
Across the road I saw a modern looking restaurant or bar. It looked the part and I could see people eating at a bar so maybe I’d be in luck here. Such was my panic about finding somewhere open I didn’t even take in the name. I asked if it was possible to get a bite to eat and the maitre d responded “I think you’ve come to the right place”.
They took me through to the open kitchen and sat me at the bar in front of the action. Only when I looked around did I realise I’d clearly stumbled on one of Copenhagens hotter restaurants Bo Bech’s Geist. To my left was sitting WD-50’s Wylie Dufresne to my right Fergus Henderson and across the bar Tom Atkins.
To be fair to Copenhagens chef’s it must be a tough time to be working when MAD 2 (Rene Redzepi’s Food Symposium) is on. Some of the worlds best chefs are in town for 2 days and the thought of serving several of them in one sitting must be more than a touch daunting. As I sat at the bar I couldn’t help but feel for the staff. that said on the basis of my meal I’m not sure they had much to worry about.
There is a dining room slighty away from the main kitchen but to be honest a seat at the bar is where the action is at. Its dark, moody the soundtrack it pointedly hip. Part of the joy of this place is the theatre of the kitchen and seeing Bo Bech and his team work their magic is all part of the experience.
Fortunately for me sitting right next to me were Julias Jaspers and Robert Krankenborg who present the dutch “Top Chef” programme. They had loved Geistso much that they’d come back for a second night. They had a number of favourites but steeered me towards the my choices below. There is clearly a love for local ingredients here and they feature heavily throughout the dishes
Salted and dried Young Duck with cherries, was an interesting take on the classic cherry and duck paring. It does the salty sweet thing well and the fruit and meat thing too. Fresh cherries, duck ham with a balanced acidic dressing – fresh yet rich. I liked it as a whole but I felt a good smoked duck breast or goose salami could have competed just as well with that duck. It needed the dressing to lift the whole thing.
Salted and dried Young Duck with Cherries
West Coast Turbot with Fennel Ravioli on Cheese
The turbot firm and delicious. The ravioli here is in fact fennel -tiny delicate and quite wonderful this is their signature dish and its clear to see why.
Celeriac and Condensed Buttermilk
For me the standout dish was perhaps the simplest. Slowly baked celeriac and condensed buttermilk. These celeriac of course aren’t your run of the mill type. They are small the size of a potato and strong on flavour. For some I guess this dish might be a little one dimensional- but the earthy simplicity is what I loved here. The richness of that sauce carried the whole thing. Apparently they take delivery of litres and litres of Buttermilk here everyday (or so my Waiter informs me) which is reduced down to form the basis of this delicious sauce.
The very best dishes in a restaurant should inspire you or at least give you the sensation of “why didn’t I think of that” This was one of those dishes and had me hours later (and in fact even now) concocting thoughts of reducing vast quantities of buttermilk to replicate that sauce.
Stylistically it reminded me of Hedone and their baked onion – and in many respects there are simlarities between the two restaurants alebit that Hedone is slightly out of town and doesn’t have that dark brooding clubby feel to it.
To dessert – for me this was a disappointment – maybe I ordered the wrong dish and I’ve heard good things about the Tiramisu amongst others.
Salted Horseradish Caramel
The salted caramel and but the horseradish I just don’t get and technically I felt the texture was wrong like icecream that had melted and refrozen. Others proclaimed the brilliance of the dish but looking at it from all angles I just can’t count myself amongst them.
And to the Geist; a candy floss ball served with coffee is an amusing end with a nod to our youth and ghosts of steam rising above the busy stoves.
A final word for the staff who were charming throughout, and suitably fussed over me as a sole dinner. In such a place they could easily be haughty and aloof but far from it. They are a credit to the restaurant friendly, welcoming throughout and obviously enthusiastic about Bo Bech and his food.
A word of caution you should book – you can risk it and get lucky as I did (though had it been a Friday or Saturday I’m not sure I’d have been so fortunate) but everything I read suggests the restaurant receives numerous requests for tables, don’t say I didn’t warn you!
Kongens Nytorv 8, 1050 Copenhagen. Tel: 00 45 33 13 37 13