Thursday, December 01, 2011

Geist, Copenhagen - late night New Nordic

Suckling pig with artichoke
When you try and Google "late night dining in Copenhagen", you get websites with lists of restaurants that include names like Pasta Basta and Ricepaper (for a Thai restaurant...). No offense, they might be fabulous, but I didn't fly all the way to Copenhagen to eat Thai. If you're a psychotic foodie, you'll know I'm here almost exclusively for New Nordic. Lucky for jetlagged me, Geist is open for dinner till 1am daily.

Bar area
Geist opened in April this year and even before it opened, Denmark's foodists were already anticipating its opening, because of its famed chef - Bo Bech. I only read up on Bech after dinner at his restaurant (oops). Bech is Danish, but did stints in London and Paris, under the likes of Marco Pierre White and Alain Passard. The first restaurant he headed up in Copenhagen, Paustian, gained 1 Michelin star. Geist is too new to be rated by the tyre people, it was on my list simply because it was on the lists of several trusty foodies I know! So here we were, sort of hungry, but not really knowing what time it was or was supposed to be... etc. The menu has about 20 savoury items, half od which are small plates, the others mains, plus cheese, digestifs and desserts at the end. The desserts looked incredibly intriguing (you'll see why later) so we both skipped starters.

Charred deer with beetroots
I had the venison, T had the pork & artichoke (opening picture). Unlike my dad, who leaps at any opportunity to have venison, I'm not a huge fan. But since I was in Denmark, I thought I should try their signature game. This came in two small pieces, sized like filet mignon, tops smeared with a black cream - which could have been the "char", but aside from a little acidity and a roasted flavour, I couldn't quite work out what it was. The meat itself was cooked medium rare, reddish pink inside with a fine grain, but no discernible marbling. There were almost no juices running out onto the plate, even when I cut into it, but when it came to chewing, a nice mouthful of juices - metal-y ones from blood and oily ones from fat - emerged. It was like a cross between Hide beef (fats) and a rare non-Wagyu beef - maybe Aussie or American.

Inside the open bar/kitchen
T's sucking pig was delicious - so deceptively simple yet so different from how we'd envisioned it. The sucking pig was served torn/pulled into knobby chunks, juicy as ever, with no skin or crackling. Yes, suckling pig with no skin. Who would have thought? Instead, the artichokes, deep-fried as individual leaves, provided the crunch and the earthy sweetness of a good veg. Both served in surprising ways, both worked, and worked together. This is sophisticated comfort food. Herr Bech, you might just be a genius.

Milk chocolate and porous day-old bread
How could you (or I, I guess) not order a dish with a name like that? Two things that are so regular, that become not-so-regular when put in the same sentence. What came was the thinnest slice of bread(maybe even rolled to flatten?), toasted, topped with chocolate shavings that had an almost white truffle-like effect on me - I just wanted to sit there and smell it all day long and get that weird high you can only get from tiny, delicious particles floating in the air. This was all supported by a pretty standard creme patissiere, which binded everything together when I finally got to eating it (rather than meditating inhaling staring at it like a thing possessed). The cream was a little to sweet/heavy for me, so I didn't finish it, but it did its job.

Risalamande with pomelo and tonka beans
T has a thing for rice pudding, so this was a no-brainer. She asked me what tonka beans were and I randomly assumed, "some kind of big, starchy bean with little flavour". Luckily she thought better of just listening to my b.s. and Googled it, after which we read that it's actually vanilla-like in taste. The rice was placed on top of the cream, rather than cooked in it, like a normal rice pudding, which worked well as it retained its bite. The vanilla scent of the tonka beans delivered, but the pomelo was strangely lacking in the slightly bitter acidity that we're used to. Is pomelo even native to the region anyway?

Tummies replete, back into the cold
If you ever end up not knowing where to go and eat on a late night in Copenhagen, well - now you do. During normal hours I suspect you'd be seated in the dining room at the back, which offers the comfort of normal dining chairs rather than bar stools (albeit with backs), but the same menu. Even if it wasn't a late night, I'd come back, just don't know how full it'd be because I think it's pretty hot right now - and unlike so many "hot-right-now" restaurants, deservedly so.

Restaurant Geist
Kongens Nytorv 8
+45 3313 3713

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