Friday, December 30, 2011

An Evening at Herman, Copenhagen

I never got over my US-to-Europe jetlag. I just kind of stayed in this semi-awake state, which might have contributed to the meh-ness I felt about this meal. The second night we were here, a fair few of our Noma lunch crew had arrived. One of us was organised enough to book Herman way ahead of time, and from a table of 2, we managed to make it a table of 5. We each made our respective ways to the restaurant. My party was slightly early, so we went up to the spacious (and honestly, lightly stark) lounge/bar upstairs for a hot toddy. After we all arrived, we went back down to Herman.

Pickled cucumber and herbs
While Herman is also recognised as one of the main players in the new Danish culinary wave, the overall feeling left me feeling that it was still very French. The way fine dining has been for the past 20 years or so.

Irish oysters, smoked oil, pine needles
I would have thought these were local oysters, but alas - you can almost imagine Rene Redzepi saying "What the F!".

Aebleskive - "burning love"
But aside from the oyster thang (and the foie thang later on), this meal was mostly Nordic-referencing. This filled donut thingy, for example, is a traditional Danish donut, although it's usually served sweet, rather than savoury (filled with a bacon bechamel of sorts).

With oyster marmalade
Instead of icing sugar and jam - oyster "marmalade".

Veal tatar (sic) with oysters, chive and taragon
Ah, marrow. I'd seen it a few times now in CPH.

Oystercloud. Green apples, dried seaweed
I'd read somewhere that the food at Herman is a play on "mormor" food, or grandmother's food. I don't know what Danish grandmothers are accustomed to making, but there sure seems to be a diverse range of ingredients here.

Norwegian scallops and camomile tea
This is served with little peaks of lemon and thyme jelly. I can't say I really knew how to appreciate this combination, but nontheless the scallops were perfect - still a bit jelly-like inside.

Post-scallop towel
We were instructed to eat the scallop with our hands. I don't think I've ever eaten cooked scallops with my hands before. I wonder what the intent was. For me, it meant that I had an additional sense (touch) of doneness.

Bisque of camomile flower - a cold soup, as you can see...
Smoke and mirrors. I guess this is the kind of stuff that makes me think it's a bit different from the other new Nordics. They still aren't afraid to use these tricks.

Bisque again, with mussels and camomile caviar
Another shot so you can sort of see the soup, rather than just the camomile-infused liquid nitrogen. The micro-herbs and dainty flowers reminded me very much of Singapore's FiftyThree.

Pike perch and celeriac, celery and tarragon blanquette
I don't know if I can blame this on jetlag, but nothing really made an impression on me here. It was, to me, still like French-based cooking but just with some regional ingredients.

Foie and cherries, Part 1 - Frozen foie gras with frozen cherry wine "from Frederiksdal gods"
I think we opted for a 5 course prix fixe, but some courses, like this foie gras one, ended up being split into multiple parts. The frozen foie - little buttery pellets (the size and shape of Nerds!) melt slowly on your mouth - was fun to eat.

Foie gras and cherries, Part 2 - seared foie
The sweet/sour complement is pretty classic and I didn't really think much of it.

Grilled young pigeon and wild mushrooms from near and far
The foamed mushroom soup at the back was fine. Couldn't help but find it (again) very French, with that creamy veloute texture etc. and diced mushrooms lying at the base.

Near...  far... whereever you are...!
Sorry if this sounds immature, but I found the pigeon leg amusing. Or macabre. Either way, not what I expected on my dinner plate. It tasted great though, cooked just right - no toughness or undercooked bloodiness; nice, firm but tender flesh; a crisp skin; piping hot (yes!). No, I didn't suck the claw.

Mushroom chips
Again, a dish of many parts. These were giant chips dusted with dried mushroom powder, served with the pigeon. Sometimes I don't really understand these platings. So am I supposed to eat them together, in a sequence, or what? I understand you can't put soup on a plate, but a chip...

A Californian wine in Copenhagen...!
On the server's recommendation we got a pinot noir from Anderson Valley. Ha, I didn't even go there when I was in California just days before!

Skyr, elderflowers, Danish cucumber, with white chocolate and dill
Skyr is a Swedish yoghurt with the texture of mascarpone. It's tangy and creamy, making it a decent cleanser-meets-pre-dessert.

Local cheeses
While some of us chose dessert, others chose to have the Danish cheese platter. Dairy is, from my understanding, a big part of Danish food (we get Danish butter worldwide), but not all of these cheeses were great. Reminds me of the cheese situation in Australia - there's some really great stuff but many people are okay with mass-market quality.

 Various breads and crispbread to take us through the cheese course...

I've forgotten what this was! A crispbread of sorts...
 At the same time, the rest of us got our desserts.

Pear Belle Herman
This chocolate and pear combo has what is now a recurring theme of frozen pellets/crumbs of things. This time, pear. It was fine, but I actually wouldn't have minded some caramelised pear for a deeper flavour to complement the chocolate, rather than a super-refreshing frozen rendition.

White chocolate eggs
The petit fours were cute - creative in presentation, but nothing special really taste-wise. I liked the little eggs - very festive.

Spot the chocolate
Chocolate branches served on real branches. Luckily I was still sober/awake enough to pick out the right bits.

Some people get kidney stones, we get, um, stones that aren't really stones
The service, while very well-meaning (they printed us a customised menu of exactly what we had, with the quaint title, "An evening at Herman" hence the blog title), wasn't always spot on - in some instances, waving down a server demanded decidedly barbaric waves of all our hands - but the restaurant only has about six tables.

A passable (but expensive) meal in a lovely setting (at a low-key but hyper-exclusive boutique hotel, next to the Christmas lights of the beautiful Tivoli Gardens), but the "mormor reinvention" thing seemed half-hearted and almost pretentious to me. Throughout the meal, it begged questions like, "why on earth were we having foie gras"? That was only one course, but that one course made me feel they were trying to compromise somehow. If someone doesn't like your style, and are more about the foie gras and liquid nitrogen, would a couple of dishes appease them?

Hotel Nimb

Bernstorffsgade 5
+45 88 70 00 00

View e_ting in CPH in a larger map


  1. I stayed at the Hotel Nimb in 2008. Wonderful hotel and totally loved the upstairs bar/lounge.

    However, we had a bad experience with Herman.

    To be frank found the Brassiere restaurant to better, in every way.

  2. you got a very nice dinner here