If you’re a foodie who loves design or if you’re a designer who loves food then Copenhagen is the city for you. It is immediately obvious the minute you land and are welcomed by the teak floor throughout the airport that this is the country where design comes to thrive. Everywhere you look, the architecture of every building, whether old or new, is there to remind you that nothing here is overlooked. Every single detail of the city is thought of in terms of design. For an ex-designer like me, this is a dream city. For an ex-designer who is absolutely in love with mid-century Scandinavian design, I couldn’t have picked a better vacation spot. For a foodie ex-designer who is now in the food business, I’ve hit the jackpot! Copenhagen has 13 Michelin stars, including the two earned by the number one restaurant in the world Noma. I am not planning on eating at all of them, but hey, I’m off to a good start so you never know 🙂
I spent my first day roaming the city alone today. I got off the train, crossed the street, walked around the oldest amusement park in the world, the Tivoli, for about half an hour before spotting the gorgeous, 1-Michelin star restaurant, The Paul where I spend the next 3 hours eating lunch! Now I don’t normally spend 3 hours eating lunch but one thing led to another…
Please note that The Paul has now closed and been rededicated into an exclusive banquet facility. It really is too bad because it was such a lovely restaurant. You can still read on about the great dining experience I had there.
It started out with a wonderful glass of Sauternes in the lounge area, where one can really start getting a sense of the surroundings and how wonderful and airy the space is, even on this rainy day. Then I was moved into the dining area where I was surprised to notice the piles of cookbooks and magazines waiting for me at my table courtesy of my waiter because I was dining along… And then the food started coming. I had chosen the 3-course lunch menu instead of the 7-course Ma Cuisine menu because I had the whole afternoon ahead of me and didn’t want to be too full to walk around (little did I know!)
The first course was an appetizer of salted scallops with rhubarb pickles, wild asparagus, capers and a purée of sultana raisins with a dash of sesame oil. Pure heaven in every bite! Those scallops were like little sweet, sour and salty explosions in my mouth. I wanted to order another one of these immediately, there just wasn’t enough on the plate! but I help my tongue and waited.
The second thing to arrive at my table was the butter. Now that wouldn’t be an eventful thing in any other restaurant but this was no ordinary butter, this was butter made specifically for the restaurant by Nimb dairy, located about 200 feet from where the restaurant is. Look at that butter’s colour! It was amazingly rich and went so well with the tiny warm bouchons of molasses and Manitoba (!) breads they brought me.
My waiter brought out my next dish and informed me that the chef had a “problem” with butter, in the sense that he added copious amounts of it to just about everything together. I don’t know about you but that sounds like a quality to me! In front of me sat a butter roasted lemon sole with brown butter, garden peas, asparagus, butter-sautéed bread crumbs & mussel foam. Butter with butter, butter and then some brown butter, it tasted… buttery! But oh so good! Perfectly seasoned, I could taste every separate element in the dish and the butter was the glue that bound everything. Heaven!
The main dish was a filet mignon topped with foie gras with confied then roasted sweetbreads, asparagus, mushrooms and wild watercress (from the forests around Copenhagen) in a Bordelaise sauce. There are a couple of things on that plate I wouldn’t normally eat (foie gras and sweetbreads) but I was in a Michelin-star restaurant and I wasn’t about to start telling the chef what to do! And this was good, like amazingly rich and heavy, food-coma inducing good! I couldn’t bear the thought of one more bite but I finished the whole plate for fear of regretting it later! My waiter assured me the dessert would be light and refreshing and would help me digest.
And he wasn’t lying… about the first dessert at least! It was a milk sorbet flavoured with basil, woodruff and mint with shards of meringue, some where the dough was mixed with chopped herbs, others (the green ones) where the dough was mixed with mashed up herbs. Even though the herbs are essentially the same, the two meringues tasted completely different. I am not a sorbet/ice cream person so this is not a dish I would’ve normally ordered but my waiter was right, it was light and refreshing and I finished it all. However, I was still thinking about the one thing on the menu that made me go into The Paul in the first place and that was the financiers! They unfortunately weren’t part of the menu I had chosen so I thought it was a lost cause until I saw the chef approaching my table carrying a plate of financiers!
Yuzu financiers with gingered chocolate caramel and a grilled blood orange & grapefruit pâte de fruits that is. And this is when the fun began (as if I wasn’t having enough fun before then!) 🙂 Chef Paul Cunningham (a British expat) sat at my table and we chatted like old friends for about an hour. I got his advice on where to eat in Copenhagen and he told me about some of his future projects. I appreciated him taking the time to sit and have coffee with me and I appreciate even more the signed menu (hello art!) that I got as a surprise on my way out of the restaurant!
I spent the rest of the afternoon walking around the city with a (very) full belly and a huge smile on my face. I couldn’t have hoped for a better first date with Copenhagen. Now you tell me, if this was your first meal in a city, wouldn’t you be in love too?
PS: That menu is now framed and hanging on the wall in my apartment. Thank you Chef Cunningham!
Checkout my Copenhagen Google map for more tips and places about this beautiful city!
1630 København V
Phone +45 3375 0775