During one of my dessert courses at Geranium, we were invited to dine in the kitchen, where we sat at a small two-top table that displayed three impressive Bocuse d’Or trophies. I suppose that’s the equivalent of having a famous actor invite you over to his house and admire his three Oscars. It was a slightly strange gesture, and a little self-promotional on Chef Rasmus Kofoed’s part, but I can definitely see why he won all of them.
My lunch at Geranium was one of the most impressive meals that I’ve had, ever. Far surpassing Per Se in every manner, and even my beloved Blue Hill Stone Barns in some aspects. Each course was so inventive and beautifully presented, twisting and unfolding like a gorgeous pop-up picture book. It’s an absolute must if you are considering a special occasion meal in Copenhagen.
The restaurant is on the 8th floor of a rather unattractive and corporate-looking building complex, but things are much better inside. As we stepped out from the elevator, a very Nordic looking man with white blonde hair greeted us and showed us to our table. It’s a very intimate dining parlor, furnished in a modern and austere color palate of black and gray. The aerial view of the city that the windows provide adds a nice atmospheric touch to the experience.
We went during lunch, and you have the option of choosing a full length lunch course that lasts 3 hours for 1,250 Dkk (roughly $250), or the abbreviated lighter lunch tasting menu that lasts 2 hours for 950 Dkk ($190). Neither option is all that cheap, but I will say that I ordered the shortened version, and I didn’t feel like it was that different from the full length version. Whatever you choose, there are many, many courses that come out for several hours.
As soon as you sit down, even before the actual tasting begins, a series of dainty, elaborate snacks arrive at the table. The common theme here is an emphasis on local ingredients, particularly vegetables and wild herbs, all incorporated in a highly stylized manner. Here is a brief description of all the snacks that were served, accompanied by photos taken by the very talented Ruoxi Chen!
Crispy grains from kornly. This was a cheese cracker that had been shaped into a piece of grain and served in a field of grass. It tasted like a very wispy bread stick.
Milk, fermented juice from carrot and sea buckthorn. The focal point of this snack was carrot, served two different ways. One as a delightful ball of hard candy with a sweet preserve inside, the other as a fermented juice infusing a very mild milky cheese with what tasted like liquid rye.
Pickled pear, lemon verbena and pine shoots. This snack was very crisp and clean in taste. The pear had been sliced very thin and pickled to saturation with bright lemon flavors.
Jerusalem artichoke, rye and walnut. The presentation of the artichoke was like something out of an autumn fairy tale. A small, whimsical tree held the crisp Jerusalem artichoke sticks in its winding branches, while a walnut filled with mayonnaise awaited beneath.
Dried flowers and dried apples. Two translucent and edible sachets filled with dried apple and flowers arrived on a silver platter. It tasted like those Kasugai gummy muscat candies, only more floral.
Charred potato and lightly smoked sheep milk butter. The kitchen played up the charred aspect of the dish, in which the potatoes appeared to be downright burnt, like lumps of coal. Despite the intimidating appearance, the potato itself was warm and fluffy inside, and the skin was wonderfully smoked and blistery. When placed in the spoonful of rich milk butter, it tasted like the world’s smallest but tastiest baked potato.
Cep soup and egg yolk in vinegar. The warm and frothy mushroom soup was full of earthy, savory flavors, while the vinegar balanced out the broth with some acidity. It was an interesting sensation swallowing the soup in one shot, with the initial lightness from the foam giving way to the extremely deep and dense sensations of the raw quail egg.
Celeriac with seaweed powder, skyr and fish roe. Again, the presentation was like something out of a fairy tale, although one with a darker tone, like an evil tree branch from Maleficent. The delicate celeriac root paired well with the yogurt sauce, which was saturated with fantastically briney flavors from the fish roe.
The proper courses hadn’t even arrived, and already we had tried eight different things. The plates that followed were slightly larger than the snacks, and incorporated more proteins.
Tomato water, herbs and jellied ham. The tomato water tasted like a very nice consommé. It was light with a nice acidity to it, while the jellied ham provided the water with some salt and savory weight.
“Dillstone”, mackerel, horseradish and granita from pickled cucumber. This was another course that wins high marks for presentation. A small bowl of dark and green pebbles arrived, and I was expecting the edible green ones to taste like hard candy. They were actually soft when bitten into, like a jelly bean filled with dill-flavored mackerel. You were to dip the stones in a separate bowl with horseradish cream and icy granita. There were so many creative ways of incorporating different spicy and pickled layers in this dish.
Bread with emmer and spelt. The arrival of the bread basket marked a brief interlude in the tasting. The tiny bread rolls looked like golden, grainy financiers, and they had a bit of a cheese flavor to them like in a popover. The onion flavored butter that came on the side was delicious.
Onions and chamomile flower vinegar. I am not a big fan of onions, but I have to give the kitchen a lot of credit for making this strong vegetable very palatable. The preparation de-emphasized the offensive and sharp flavors of raw onion. The white ones were grilled and very meaty, while the red ones were tasty and pickled.
Grilled langoustine in juniper aroma with red elements. The servers arrived with the raw langoustine in a field of Christmas tree branches. They then proceeded to quickly flame torch it before our eyes, and placed the langoustine on top of a pool of red beets and cherry sauce. The langoustine was so remarkably fresh. It was silky and raw on the inside, while the quick flames provided the meat with a slightly smoky and firm skin. I would say this and the dillstones were my two favorites.
Lamb, herbs and pickled strawberries. A small little bush of herbs arrived, hiding the lamb and strawberries underneath. The braised lamb had the crumbly texture of hamburger meat, which I thought was ideal for picking up all the flavors of the tart strawberries and herbs surrounding it. The meat itself wasn’t gamey at all, even without the assistance of a strong herb, which I found impressive.
This marked the completion of the savory courses, and the start of the desserts.
“Forest floor in July,” wood sorrel, beech leaves and woodruff. This strange and convoluted name does not do justice to this amazing dessert. It sounds like you’ll be eating a bowl full of pine needles, but really you were served an excellent bowl of white chocolate. It was incredibly creamy and very subtle, like a delicate vanilla panna cotta, only the powdered wild herbs made it a little more complex and interesting. The granita was again used to good effect here, providing the dessert with an additional layer of texture and flavor.
Yoghurt with red branches and dried sorrel. This was the dessert course that we had consumed in the kitchen with the trophies. It tasted like a mild custard, and the candied beets and sorrel were crunchy and sweet.
And of course, to finish, we were served the last dessert, green egg with pine. It was a short and sweet way to end the meal. The small chocolate egg was cold, helping to cleanse the palate of the medley of flavors and experiences it had gone through. But it was impossible to wipe the memory of the palate completely clean–the scenes from this very memorable meal will continue to play out in my head, blooming continuously like the perennial geranium itself.
Per Henrik Lings Allé 4, 8
DK-2100 Copenhagen Ø
+45 69 96 00 20