Geranium 2nd Visit — Copenhagen (5/2019)

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It had been a few years since I visited Geranium (also for lunch). It is Copenhagen’s only Michelin 3-star restaurant. Since my last visit, they remodeled to bring part of the kitchen out in the open. They also changed the overall feel of the service to be a little less formal. Upon making a reservation, they take about a $100 deposit. They are still located in a building attached to a sports stadium (there is a view of the field from one of the kitchen areas).

They offer the same tasting menu for lunch as for dinner. They also offer three distinct levels of wine pairings, by-the-glass options, and a juice pairing. I went with the juice pairing along with a glass of white Bordeaux that they poured with a Coravin.

The first presentation was lobster in a cold milk and lemon verbena custard, topped with juice from fermented carrots and sea buckthorn oil.
The next small bite was some Jerusalem artichoke crisps with a pickled walnut leaf mayonnaise dip.

This was the very nice white Bordeaux that I had.

The next snack was razor clam tartare with aromatic herbs and crème fraiche inside edible “shells” made by the pastry chef to look like razor clam shells.

The next small bite was free range (a little bit of humor from them) snail eggs in a smoked cream cheese soup with oyster, dried biscuits, and nettles. The smokiness was a nice aromatic and taste effect.
I also ordered the optional course, which was presented at this time. It was Bulgarian ossetra caviar, pumpkin seeds and pumpkin seed oil, and pumpkin seed water. The pumpkin added a nice nuttiness to the dish experience. The blown-glass dish with black sand on the bottom was made on Bornholm Island. It was the inspiration for this food presentation.

The first juice pairing was Granny Smith apple juice, elderflower, egg whites and thyme oil. The ingredients were shaken together martini-style and then poured at the table.

This course featured scallop “red stones” (raw scallops colored with beetroot) with horseradish cream for dipping (not shown).

The next course was celeriac, dried mussels, Söl (seaweed from Iceland, shown on the right), celeriac juice, smoked yogurt, and pickled seeds. This was warm and had a mostly vegetable flavor.

For the full write-up, click here.

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kadeau — Copenhagen (5/2019)

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I heard about kadeau from a foodie friend who visits Copenhagen often. It has two Michelin stars and bases its cuisine on the ingredients from Bornholm Island. There are many food options in Copenhagen to choose from for the one night I had not yet reserved. I decided to try a new place rather than go back to any of the places I’d already visited. When making a reservation, the restaurant takes a deposit of about $100. Even though it is a small restaurant, they accept solo diner reservation. They stagger their reservation times, but each table will only have one seating for the evening. The restaurant is located down a narrow street behind an inconspicuous door (although there is a sign).

There is little separation between the kitchen and the dining areas. The décor seemed to integrate the two areas. There was also an outside courtyard area for drinks before or after dinner. In the kitchen, they have taken advantage of an existing chimney in the space and set up a kitchen fireplace for grilling and smoking.

They offer a single tasting menu each evening. In addition to the wine list, wine and non-alcoholic parings are available. I chose to go with the juice pairing as well as a glass of a 2014 Mâconnais Chardonnay.

The menu started out with a beverage made with water kefir, gooseberries, oxidized pear and fig leaf oil. This made for a kind of herbal palate awakener. This was followed with a series of snacks.

The first snack was a tart of green asparagus, fermented peas, fried kale and egg yolk. The kale gave it a nice soft crunch feel with each bite.
Next was kohlrabi, cured in asparagus juice and then cooked in fire, black currant and nobilis fir in the form of marinated pinecones and pine shoots. There was a pleasant, vegetable-firm crunch texture.

The next dish featured razor clams with gooseberry juice, white currants, cherry blossoms, rose petals and elderberry flower buds. This was light and flavorful.
The plate featured brill (similar to turbot) marinated in cherry blossom oil and garnished with marigold and cherry blossoms. These flavors blended nicely together.

For the full write-up, click here.

noma 2nd Visit — Copenhagen (5/2019)

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My first visit to noma was several years ago to the original restaurant, where I had the classic menu. Since then, noma has moved to a new location. It’s still in the same general area of Copenhagen, but north of the old location. It still has 2 Michelin stars. The new restaurant is much more expansive than the original location. When checking in for dinner, guests were led to a greenhouse where a hard cider and a non-alcoholic rhubarb-fennel beverage were offered. The menu has also changed. A series of seasonal menus are now offered throughout the year. In the winter/spring, they offer a seafood menu. The summer menu is focused on vegetables. Fall/winter offers a game and forest menu.

I had secured a reservation at the community table for the seafood menu. This seating is in a different part of the complex from the regular dining tables. We were all led from the greenhouse where we checked in, through gardens of herbs and produce, and into a building which had a large table located next to a large kitchen/staging area. A booking at the community table is prepaid for the food at the time of reservation (as are normal table seatings). An additional requirement at the community table is that diners must order either the wine pairing or the non-alcoholic pairing (which is paid for after dinner). It is possible to cancel a reservation up to five days before the scheduled dining date without penalty.

I chose to have the juice pairing. The first one presented was a green gooseberry juice infused with elderflower. The alcoholic pairing began with a sour beer.
The meal began with fresh (opened 3-4 minutes prior to serving) Norwegian scallop, served raw and seasoned with salt. The roe was separated and presented just to the side. I was expecting the flavor to have a touch of sweetness, but I did not get that.

The next course was an array of lightly cooked and raw clams. Venus clams (cooked) seasoned with Mirabelle plum juice (front left), carpet clams (cooked) with sorrel and cooked grains (front right), mahogany clams (raw) from north of the Arctic Circle seasoned with fresh cream and pine salt (back left), and razor clams (raw) served with raw walnuts and cooked grains. Textures from raw walnuts with razor clams and cooked grains with two of the other clams were a nice complement. The center of the plate had a piece of quince cooked in a salt brine. It was recommended that we squeeze this over the clams for additional seasoning.

Wine pairing was from Central Spain (a pre-phylloxera Verdejo).

For the full write-up, click here.

Pineapple and Pearls 5th Visit — Washington DC (4/2019)

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Since my visit to Pineapple and Pearls just over a year ago, the dining options changed. In the past, I could sit at the bar and prepay for the full tasting menu with beverages optional. Currently, sitting at the bar comes with a different, bar-specific menu, with some items form the tasting menu and some just for the bar. However, they did allow me to book a solo (or odd-numbered party seats) at the Chef’s Counter, where you pre-pay for the menu and the beverage pairings option of your choice (alcoholic or non-alcoholic). So, this ended up being the first time I was able to sit at the Chef’s Counter overlooking the kitchen. While waiting to be seated, we were offered a glass of champagne or white tea.

I generally don’t do wine pairings, so I went with the non-alcoholic beverage pairing.

The first beverage was made using an elaborate drip coffee technique. What resulted was a hibiscus tea and fruit-blend with orange juice, apple juice, yuzu-honey syrup, lemon, thyme, and lemon zest. A different mixture was prepared for those who selected the wine pairings.

The first dish arrived soon and consisted of a slice of wagyu beef tallow pie made with smoked A5 wagyu rendered fat and a red onion gelée on a rosemary pastry crust. The other item was a vol au vent of flavors of escargot – creamed parsley, creamed beurre blanc, sautéed American snails.
The next course was scallops crudo prepared in a mille-feuilles style with white asparagus and fermented kohlrabi (providing a nice texture contrast).

At the table, they poured a brown butter and sudachi hollandaise sauce.
This was paired with a celery and green pepper soda.

At the beginning, I had asked if I could order a glass of wine (in addition to having the non-alcoholic beverage pairings). They said they do not normally have a by-the-glass wine menu. But she asked what I was interested in trying. I had said that in the past, (when I sat at the bar), they offered some interesting wines, like a French Chardonnay from a magnum bottle. She said they would bring me something to have. It came with the next course and was a 2006 Puligny-Montrachet that was very good.

For the full write-up, click here.

Restaurant Labyrinth — Singapore (11/2018)

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Restaurant Labyrinth is a 1-star Michelin establishment that takes the traditional local flavors of traditional Singapore cuisine and present them in new and modern ways. Reservations can be made up to 30 days in advance and can be done with the Chope reservation website/app. They only offer a multi-course tasting menu for dinner, and they feature locally-sourced ingredients (Singapore and the nearby regions that contribute to Singaporean flavors). They do ask about allergies and dietary restrictions beforehand. They have their wine list on a tablet for review.

As part of the introduction, they bring to the table a display of many of the ingredients that will be featured on the evening’s menu.
The first presentation was not listed on the menu and was a oolong tea-smoked quail egg with a runny yolk inside.

With the quail egg, we were brought some kombucha (aged 5 weeks) infused with rosella (hibiscus).
The menu presentations began with three platters. The waffle triangles were served with chicken liver paté, goji berry jam and pandan juice sprinkled on top. Next to it were the homemade lapcheong (like Chinese sausage) with barley, diced chicken, crispy rice, and pickled bok choy in a burnt rice “nori” (or crêpe). On the far right were the small bites (“nasi lemak” cheong fun) made from egg yolk gel and ikan bilis sambal (dried anchovy chili paste sauce) wrapped in rice pastry skin and topped with deep-fried black chicken skin, cucumbers, and fried anchovies.

For the complete write-up, click here.

Eden Hill Two Visits — Seattle (8/2018 and 10/2018)

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I heard about Eden Hill from one of Andrew Zimmern’s Travel Channel shows. He did a short segment on innovative Seattle restaurants, and he briefly talked about Eden Hill. It’s a small, neighborhood-type restaurant in north Seattle. They serve an a la carte menu, as well as a tasting menu and a Grand Tasting menu, which requires a reservation and a pre-purchased seat (from Tock) for the bar/counter.

The first course was a beetroot and tomato salad, where the tomatoes have been dipped in a beetroot sugar “glass”. This was garnished with olive oil, key lime, basil and sea salt.

Next up was a “martini” with pressed corso (dried fruit) with grapefruit and a little calamansi vinegar and truffle oil. The “olive” was a baby peach stuffed with ricotta.
I decided to try the wine pairings with my dinner. The first beverage pairing was a French champagne.

The next course was squash blossom with cheese and fermented squash (from last season) fried and served with elderflower.

The next dish featured local mussels, a corn fritter, and micro sorrel.

For the full write-up, click here.

For the write-up of the second visit, click here.

Ultraviolet — Shanghai (4/2018)

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Even though Ultraviolet has been around for a few years, I had not heard about until it was briefly mentioned in a short listing of highlights for cities around the world in a magazine.  Chef Paul Pairet offers a tasting menu paired with wines/beverages.  The evening includes a broad range of sensory experiences to go with the meal.   There is only one seating a night for a maximum of 10 diners.  On any given night, only one menu is offered, and during a month, most of the menu/beverage variations can be found.  The website shows what is included for each menu variation and the wines that will be offered.  The variations are priced differently, and half of the cost is due upon booking.  On the days that I had targeted for going to Shanghai, the “Special Event” menu was going to be offered.  This is the most expensive option and takes the best items from the other menus and pairs them with some top wines. 

Detailed instructions on how the evening will proceed are provided in advance.  There is no dress code, and still photography is allowed (no video though). We are told not to expect a cell signal in the dining room.  The evening starts with the diners asked to gather by 6:30 pm.  From the meeting point, the diners are taken to an undisclosed location for dinner.  Everyone is returned around 11:00 pm to the starting point.

The meeting point was easily found at their regular restaurant on the 6th floor of a building on the Bund.  Upon arrival, I spoke with the hostess at the restaurant to find out where to wait.  She led me into the restaurant to an area where other guests were already present.  I was offered a glass of pear cider, some water, and a seat with the other guests.

To read the full write-up, click here.