lørdag den 19. maj 2012


whenever i read in the paper about how copenhagen is the culinary capital of europe or someone mentions how lucky i am to be living here, i am honestly annoyed. just look up the restaurants that are listed in such articles and you'll realize that not everyone can afford to indulge in gastronomic adventures every month, much less every week. i'm not saying that said restaurants do not serve good food; i've only been to a few of them. but to me, at least, a 'culinary capital' is somewhere that just about everyone has the opportunity and will to eat well. hong kong, san sebastian, and new york come to mind. i've been witness to many danes settling for rugbrød with cucumbers or some cold meat topping for lunch. i am not talking bad about rye bread, i enjoy it myself. but for lunch, every day of the week? no thanks.

my little brother finally came to visit me in copenhagen in the beginning of may. he is very enthusiastic about food, so this was the perfect chance for me to check out some of the places that are bringing attention to the city. of course noma, being the so-called 'best restaurant in the world,' was at the top of our list. but due to the short notice of my brother's visit, there was no chance we could get a table.. maybe next time. relæ is only about 10 minutes walk from our flat, located on the trendy street of jægersborggade. the area had a shady past with gunfire and drugs, but it has cleaned up well and is now home to hipster-friendly shops and restaurants. the thing about relæ is that despite the humble interior and reasonable prices, it has recently been crowned with a michelin star. the price of a four-course menu is 355 DKK ($60 USD), same with the vegetarian menu, and the supplementing wines. though it could be argued that it should be cheaper than the regular menu, how many michelin restaurants have you been to that cater to vegetarians?

the vegetarian menu started with thinly-sliced kohlrabi wrapped around cucumber and lemon balm and topped with roasted caraway seeds (see top photo). sadly, the most i can say about this dish was that it was interesting. i wasn't crazy about the texture of anything, nor the cucumber soup it was served in. however, it did whet our appetites; we polished off the perfect bread and olive oil that was presented earlier. the wine pairing was jacquere ’11, jacques maillet vin de savoie. the next course was leagues better; marabel potatoes cut into noodles, wrapped around pecorino and seaweed (hijiki?), and served in a cream with seaweed (wakame?). i never imagined potatoes in this way... this should be a huge inspiration of vegetarians everywhere.

the third dish was half a head of romaine lettuce (possibly poached?) topped with cured, shaved egg yolk and dotted with olives, served on top of a pool of stinging nettle sauce. i've never eaten anything like this before. the yolk reminded me a bit of salted duck egg, but with the texture of shredded cheese. it was actually a very salty dish, on the verge of being too salty. but the crisp white wine took that away with every sip; bouchat ’09 de guy blanchard, mâcon. my brother had the accompanying juice menu instead of wine, and i'm sorry to report that he didn't like them. they were not all sweet as he expected; in fact the first juice tasted very much like my cucumber soup. i'm not saying you shouldn't try it, but don't expect them all to be fruit juices. (;

when i first looked at the menu, i didn't know if we would be offered dessert at all or maybe we would have to order it separate from the menu. when the fourth course was presented to us, i realized that "sunchoke, malt, and bread" was our dessert. the sunchoke a.k.a. jerusalem artichoke was made into an ice cream and the peels were saved to become sweet roasted chips. little bits of bread were soaked in malt, creating an almost raisin-y taste and texture. this was a very pleasant, not-too-sweet dessert. i love sunchokes and we do use them from time to time at the soup kitchen, but i never would have imagined them in this way. the wine pairing was actually a cider; eric bordelet sidre tendre, normandie. it had just enough acidity to cut through the mild sweetness of dessert.

i don't want to hype this place too much but it really was very good, and not just for the price. service was on point and each dish was explained to us in english by the chefs. i'm still far from convinced that copenhagen is the culinary capital of anywhere except denmark, but if you're traveling through then this is good eats.

restaurant relæ
jægersborggade 41 
2200 københavn n 
+45 3696 6609

7 kommentarer:

BavarianSojourn sagde ...

Gorgeous photographs Mina! Sounds really interesting! :)

Anonym sagde ...

Ok, totally random comment here:

First, I really like your blog! Read a whole bunch of it the past wkd!

If you don't mind I have a question: I'll get married in Copenhagen this summer, yay! It will be a Korean/German- American wedding, 15 people, incl. 3 vegetarians.

Any suggestions for a good location? We don't want any fine dining places (though would love to try out Relae) and right now were thinking of MUMS Bar&Kitchen. Have you been? Would you recommend it?

Thanks for the inside!

mina sagde ...

hey push!

thanks and congratulations! never been to mums, and i have never taken such a large group anywhere! i have been to a dinner at zafran on blågårdsgade with a group of 40; good persian food with vegetarian options. don't know how the koreans will feel about that though. :P

Anonym sagde ...

Thanks for your speedy reply!

We are in touch with Mums now and in the middle of figuring out a menu.
Will let you know where/what we'll end up with!


Anonym sagde ...

I totally agree with you about Copenhagen not exactly being fit to be called a Culinary Capital quite yet (especially if you compare to other foodie hubs like New York). Enjoying the [good] food on offer here is definitely a luxury, and requires planning on our part, especially for the better known places like Relæ, which we finally got to in May. I didn't have the vegetarian option, but I actually did say to my boyfriend that I was surprised it was the same price. Though in fairness, all fine dining in New York has the same policy (ie: Per Se, Daniel), and I'm sure it has more to do with the time and effort taken to prepare the food and less to do with the price of ingredients used.

One thing I have learned in my hunt to find good food around town is that there are cheaper options that are quite good (though pricing will just never compare to the US, sadly). Try Frankies Køkken, or Fortunen (just opened, chef is from Noma and they serve Danish food tapas style). There is also great food at PatéPaté and Madsvinet. It's not quite fine dining, but certainly left me with a happy tummy.

mina sagde ...

thanks for the tips, i guess i gotta try all those places. (:

Anonym sagde ...

it's me again. The wedding has happened and we did stick to Mums. They renamed them Oliver and the Black Circus, and what can I say? The food was spectacular! I loved every single dish they served and they had the best ever chocolate cake! Highly recommend if you haven't tried it yourself yet.