Chef Rasmus Kofoed is one of Copenhagen’s heaviest hitters. David J Constable heads to Denmark to take the load
Here’s one of those big balls restaurants, where foodie trainspotters and bucket-list warriors descent en masse clutching little red books, checking-in on Facebook and populating Instagram with a frenzy of carefully contrived images. Restaurants like this are always about bragging rights. One of those restaurants with all of the stars and all of the awards and a spot on the whatever-is-the-most-popular-list-of-the-moment. And it’s in this competitive hierarchy of chefs and restaurants, that you’ll find Rasmus Kofoed and Geranium, way, way up there, near the top.
There’s plenty to get through because there always is with restaurant’s of this stature and the inevitably long list of assembled ingredients that come at you in rapid succession; so strap in.
Chefs all wear the preposterously tall toque blanche hat, but all of the pomp is lavishly lapped up
First, I’m hit with a flurry of appetizers starting with a bowl of crispy leaves and pickled walnut leaves, although it’s difficult to know what to eat and what to ignore as the accompanying floral display looks like a rather delicious potpourri but, as it turns out, is a detail only (ptooey!); then, there’s cucumber water (basically just water) with “ham fat” and snail eggs; a faux razor clam of which everything is edible; “dust from wild mushrooms” served with apples and white truffles; grilled lobster with “milky cheese”, juice from fermented carrots and sea buckthorn; and finally, an outstanding dish of Oscietra caviar with pumpkin seeds and pumpkin water (water a consistent theme) that arrives in a glass bowl that’s been rolled in volcanic ash. The sweet, nutty flavour of the pumpkin seeds against the pop of the salty caviar and mix of pumpkin water is a pairing of sheer brilliance.
There are scallops, oysters and more truffles, an excellent charred potato served with smoked butter, some seeds and seaweed. There are seasonal yellow beets and pickled celeriac, and an entire course during the halfway point dedicated to bread – lots of little breads baked with old and ancient grains. Throughout the meal, my expectations were set and my palate prepared for certain imminent flavours, only to be surprised when an egg yolk or liquid cheese (Vesterhavs, the Danish version of Gouda) outclasses other more lauded (and expensive) ingredients.
Home-cured meats are remarkable too, including the “ham fat” in the appetiser above and a course before dessert which takes the diner through the wine cellar and into an adjoining room where beer from Mad Fritz Brewery in the Napa Valley and thinly sliced duck breast is served. The tour continues through the kitchen and back to the dining room for desserts proper, with a single bite of beetroot and zingy blackcurrant, yoghurt and tagetes (part of the sunflower family); followed by a truly brilliant ice cream made from beeswax and pollen with dried apples and elderberries; and then, an even better caramel with roasted grains and frozen chamomile tea. Finally, the iconic golden skull is placed before me, a soft liquorice mouse that has become Geranium’s signature dish.
Every detail here is attended to. The staff all well-drilled, professional and enthusiastic, a tad robotic in their perfection, but such is the three-star fine dining experience today that one must accept and shrug. There’s also a little too much French-ultra-bourgeois trolley usage, rolling it across the floor, encouraging you to oh and ah at the ingredients on display and the dexterity of the staff as they apply spoonfuls of caviar. And chefs all wear the preposterously tall toque blanche hat, but all of the pomp is lavishly lapped up.
Geranium deserves its attention; the food is faultless, and the restaurant a neat and impressive space, occupying the eighth-floor corner edge of the Fælledparken (Common Gardens) within the FC Copenhagen stadium. Upon arrival downstairs, artworks on the walls by Danish artist HuskMitNavn depicts cartoon diners laughing, drinking and eating – one person has even dropped their phone into the soup (bet they’re an Influencer). Upstairs, during the day, it has the look of an upscale, three-star restaurant with lots of natural light, ironed white tablecloths, trendy shell chairs and Danish furniture by Hans J Wegner along with all of Kofoed’s many awards, including his gold, silver and bronze Bocuse d’Or statues. At night, the design (created by Kofoed and business partner Søren Ledet) makes sense in an uber-contemporary hygge setting, as city lights glitter in the darkness outside and flames dance on the fireplace table, looking out across the restaurant.
It’s expensive, of course. “The Winter Universe” menu I enjoyed comes in at 2,600 DKK (£290) + service and then 1,000 DKK for the juice pairing (£112). I rolled my eyes then made a note of where the door was and how long it would take me to reach should I need to bolt – I reckon I could be across the bridge and in Sweden in under an hour. But it’s here that I must confess that the dinner was thankfully and appreciatively, gratis – so can assume they Google names upon booking.
Then again a place like this is worth saving up for. This is a restaurant for occasions, for birthdays, for engagements, for anniversaries, for meeting the girlfriend’s parents, for rolled-out red carpet treatments and joviality of the highest order. It’s one of those restaurants, rightly lauded and rewarded, with all of the stars and all of the awards. C
Geranium, Per Henrik Lings Allé 4, 8. Sal, 2100 Copenhagen, Denmark
+45 69 96 00 20; geranium.dk