Arriving to the sports stadium it was still very bright out as you would expect being so far north, but we didn’t expect a three star restaurant in a sports stadium. A cleaver idea, it makes perfect sense for the operations of a restaurant of this scale, one of the few places where the rent is inexpensive. The top floor over looks the city scape and it is a gorgeous day, something we longed for, and so do the locals. I was told 127 days of rain, and that doesn’t include grey days, so Copenhagen is a basically a grey place, yet very beautiful, the atmosphere of the city is wonderful.
The elevator opens to the lobby of the restaurant, we are greeted with a big smile, and the game is on. The table is wood as we expected and the wine list extraordinary, filled with expensive treasures. I ask the sommelier, so tell me where are the mistakes, and he seems puzzled, and I try to explain. I didn’t get very far with an answer, so I rephrased it; which wines you would say are drinking well, and are exciting to drink now, and are undervalued? He is young yet old fashioned, experienced in drinking lots of variety, passionate and has a good grasp of wine knowledge. Responsible for the wine list, it is a tough list to find a mistake, and all the wines are surgically priced to reflect their quality. I did find a 1964 Conterno on the list and it was a bottle I considered to drink but I opted for his recommendation.
The answer is:……..the bearded sommelier knowledgable in wine suggests without hesitation pre Opus One, Robert Mondavi 1978, and so I ordered it. A nice old wine, concentrated and interesting historically it was a nice drink. (90 Points) I felt it was not stylish enough, over ripe, heavy and I wouldn’t say clumsy, it was just intense mature fruit on the finish.
Before we know it, Theatrics, a letter and a letter opener, all very elegant yet passé. It’s over play yet still popular enough, it never surprises me how clients cling to these kinds of gimmicks, I am not impressed.
We open the letter, my daughter who is a good sport immediately sees a few things which raise her eyebrows. The snail eggs and scallops are not her idea of gourmet foods, and I agree. I remember eating ants at Noma, and I couldn’t see the point. As for caviar of snail eggs is another thing. I expected food oddities in Copenhagen, they seem to use whatever is underground, especially potatoes or whatever.
We need something white to drink and quickly to cut the milky road we are going down, so why not some Alsatian Clos St. Hune. The 2009 is still restrained and has nice aromas and petrol with some lean fruit, a good glass for the dinner to follow, I adore this wine. (93 Points)
The case closed, first dish was lobster milk, I couldn’t see what I was supposed to be eating, or make out what it was. Caught off guard, underneath the cold lobster bouillon, a custard styled curd, and underneath small bite sized pieces Nordic lobster, and of course sea buckhorn, a berry species found here, in Asia. The white ceramic bowl was too just deep, awkward and even clumsy, the first bite very tasty, and the first milk interesting.
I was ready for some more white, a variation of whites always brings out the contrast in foods, so we decided to try a rare Grillet cote du rhone 2016, something I hadn’t seen before. (93 Points)
The next dish crispy leaves, simple, and tasty with, or without the dipping cream, the leaves are made from Jersulaem artichoke. The waiters were sure to tell us only to eat the leaf and avoid the fauna below.
I started to realize, Denmark’s fresh produce is more scarce than I thought. So, I asked around and discovered in Copenhagen surprisingly not much grows here except potatoes. The reality is most produce is imported, or for more rare raw materials foraged, and there are slim pickings to be found. The winter in Scandanvia means pickled everything, numerous types and in and around Copenhagen’s gourmet scene, fermenting is popular and Noma’s fermenting is even more popular.
The night was gorgeous, the sunset perfect for a food extravaganza. So I asked myself before going, what makes a three star? Is it novelty, or just innovation or consistency? It’s much more, so theatre is important in any culinary experience. Geranium is all about the experience, good views, lots of education, novelty and well prepared foods.
I know these Nordic countries have come a long way, after centuries of potatoes and pork. It’s sad that manpower in Scandinavia is so costly, actually they cannot afford to pick and harvest their own fruits last season. They rotted on the vine, contract labor is all imported here and that is only one challenge. Finding products domestic seems almost rare, and so the fact of the matter is, a generally poor quality for most people. It does remind me of a movie I never watched, I cannot remember the name.
If I can say, it’s annoying, or maybe not, but snail eggs were cool, crisp and fresh but I thought who wants to know how their eggs are swiped away in fresh soil as the waiter chef asks us; have you eaten them before, do you know how they are harvested, and I felt like saying, do I look like the type who eats snail eggs everyday?
I hadn’t said no to the snails eggs, yes it was snails’ eggs, and I thought those horrid little hunchback creatures who craw over bark but luckily they are herbivorous, and have such beautiful eggs. That’s it, just too much milky substances – milk this, and milk that, and at the end of the day, it’s like hey ‘no more milk’.
The caviar was not better, I mean the quality was poor, and I was disappointed, too many novelties and not enough soul, I was starting to lose interest and I was getting ready for more milk.
Moving on, I won’t bore you with too much more details, I thought the microscopic work of the staff was awesome and the nettle and foraging of micro herbs was super. Apparently an Israeli lady forages and picks these for Geranium and she is their expert. The hand work at Geranium is very well done, and when we toured the kitchen we meet the young German girl who fiddles with all these nettles, hence she has a tattoo of nettles on her arm.
The dishes kept flowing, some I thought were silly and others more interesting, I guess that’s what makes eating here interesting. This dish was filled with sour cream and I couldn’t understand the food message. I can accept the idea of a chef using techniques to re-create a dish, a sensory experience, but it should distinguishable – that’s my view. I found it difficult to associate that dish with razor clams, and it was more artistic than tasty – almost pointless or maybe cleaver, you decide, but I felt they were running out of ideas.
But this next dish was horrible, texture like agar-agar and it seemed so passé with the black rocks, and more flowers, it was starting to get boring. Milk, milk and more milk and the ingredients seemed sterile and even second rate. Seriously, who wants to eat this kind of food, it was bordering disgusting, the texture and the taste made no sense – a bad combination.
The fjord shrimps fried exciting, yet I couldn’t quite grasp how to eat them and hashi would have helped. I tried to eat it as I would a Smørrebrød (joking) but impossible. The shrimps were brisk and sharp, so it takes some skill to get that basket into your mouth without getting bitten by the sharp tentacles.
I did think the main course (hahaha) after too many dishes, it finally came, and it was cooked to perfection and covered with micro herbs-flowers added for decoration and some summer truffle. This was wonderful, very well executed and it looked and tasted as I expected.
The desserts were yummy yet not what I call made with soul, and once again too much theatre and not enough simplicity of basic materials. This desert seemed weird and not what I expected after a long meal.
In conclusion it started strong and had a period where we were saying “no more food” and then we just couldn’t finish our meal. Feeling stuffed is a terrible feeling, and in Japan we can eat twenty courses and feel light, so maybe its all the mixing of milky substances, and the broad range of raw materials served. Geranium is splendid, a great wine list, and very friendly service, good food, technical and interesting. Taste and quality based on quality of raw materials and comparable to any Michelin standard, but it misses something. It’s not the view, or wine that makes a three star, it’s soul, and it’s hard to tell, but it just misses soul, and perhaps it’s the over play, the interaction between the dish and client, and the explanation of what you are eating every minute. The theme was incoherent and while it was a nice Michelin experience, I wouldn’t bother to go again.