A few weeks ago, we boarded a Ryanair flight and headed to Copenhagen for the weekend. Last year was exceptionally gruelling from a work perspective and part of my tactics for improved mental health this year involve having lots of planned activities. Therefore, when Ryanair announced their new route from Dublin to Copenhagen, I booked a weekend lickety split. We first visited Copenhagen over 8 years ago as relatively poor people. This time around, we were bringing fatter wallets and bigger appetites.
Now, when food lovers think of Copenhagen, they immediately think Noma. But one of the benefits of having the World's No 1 restaurant in town is that it has nurtured an ecosystem of high-quality restaurants, all working together for the gastronomic benefit of Copenhagen and Nordic cuisine. We booked two meals, Friday night at Restaurant Geist and Saturday lunch at Relae. Everything else, we would take as it comes.
Restaurant Geist comes from chef Bo Bech and is a fun, sleek venue with a large open kitchen and bar-stool seating along the kitchen and windows. We took a seat facing onto the Kongens Nytorv square and ordered cocktails to get started. At 100 DKK per cocktail, or just over €13, they were somewhat expensive (like everything else in Copenhagen) but I really enjoyed my mezcal orange martini with its petrol-like sheen while his Danish sour (nay rum, lime and cherry) was equally well constructed.
|Tartare of Norway lobster with yuzu and hibiscus|
The menu at Geist comes printed on a small folded card. There is no traditional menu layout but the dishes get progressively meatier and richer as you read down. Our server told us that the portions likewise get larger, while prices ranged from 65 DKK to 195 DKK, or approximately €9 to €26. We started with a tartare of Norway lobster with yuzu and hibiscus (130DKK) and a dish of raw beef and lumpfish roe with piment d'espelette (135 DKK). In a bizarre presentation, the lobster flesh had been flattened out and spread across the plate, served with a blob of the sharp yet sweet sauce. My raw beef was likewise spread out on a plate, with slight saltiness coming from the lumpfish roe and heat from the Basque chili. While everything was incredibly fresh and sweet, I found myself longing for the silky binding of a raw egg to pull it all together.
|Raw beef and lumpfish roe with piment d'espelette|
Our "main" courses followed from the kitchen, in the order we had requested. Turbot with fennel ravioli on Gruyere featured a magnificent two pieces of this royal fish with spectacular and richly intense ravioli fanned on top (195 DKK). This stunning dish was served along with a plate of black kale and wild garlic arranged around a fried egg (85 DKK). Kale may be having a hipster fashion moment right now, but there's no doubt that it's an exceptional vegetable when cooked with care. In my opinion it's a meaty vegetable, and worked well as a contrast to the light turbot. Finally, a bowl of crispy artichokes flakes concealed soft chunks of suckling pig, flavoured with black truffle (185 DKK). Artichokes are amongst my favourite vegetables and I loved the contrast of the crunchy flakes against the juicy, fatty pork.
|Turbot with fennel ravioli on Gruyere|
|Black kale with fried egg and wild garlic|
|Crispy artichokes with suckling pig and black truffle|
The dessert section of the Geist menu proved a challenge when selecting our final plates. Their "Air in Air in Air Tiramisu" is mentioned time and time again on blogs and reviews. However, we went with our hearts. For himself, a plate of blue Stilton and carmelised chocolate (95 DKK) came as a pile of textures with an incredible blend of salt and sweet. I simply wouldn't know how to start recreating this one at home, but I really do want to try. My dessert of salted wasabi toffee cream was another favourite with Geist diners (85 DKK). It took the form of a wasabi-flavoured meringue piece atop a swirl of delicious toffee sauce. Sorry for the lack of a picture, it just didn't come out well due to the low-lighting of the restaurant.
|Blue Stilton and carmelised chocolate|
Dinner was accompanied by a stunning Gruner Veltliner Strassertal from Martin & Anna Arndorfer (440 DKK).
Ultimately, I had fun at Geist even though I did find it somewhat inconsistent. Despite the high quality of the ingredients in our first two dishes, they didn't really shine. But the main courses and desserts were of a very different standard, with bold flavours and eccentric presentations. The restaurant was buzzing on the Friday night we visited, with queues of people waiting to get in as we left. If this is what modern, fun Nordic cuisine looks and tastes like, then sign me up for more.
Restaurant Geist, Kongens Nytorv 8, DK-1050 Copenhagen, Denmark
Tel: +45 3313 3713