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Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Mielcke & Hurtigkarl. Copenhagen's best restaurant.


Maybe it was the summer evening stroll through Copenhagen's beautiful Frederiksberg Park, or perhaps the proud peacock welcoming me the way peacocks do, all feathers and indignation. Either way, when I finally arrived at Mielcke & Hurtigkarl's magnificent 18th century pavilion, hidden away in the midst of the park's royal gardens, I was bowled over, which is always a great way to start a meal.
 
Mielcke & Hurtigkarl is something of a local secret in Copenhagen after all, this is a city not short of gastronomic choices with the world famous NOMA heading up a serious list of worthy contenders. However, it seems Mielcke & Hurtigkarl have chosen to shun all this Michelin fuelled hysteria in favour of building a reputation through recommendation,  the quality of the fare easily comparable to its more flamboyant neighbours.

Both Jakob Mielcke and Jan Hurtigkart are Danish chefs who have trodden the long path of global gastronomic education before coming home to Copenhagen and performing their own brand of culinary wizardry within a setting that is too perfect for words. The gardens of Copenhagen's Royal Horticultural Society all around, the delightfully airy interior lorded over by an explosion of crystals in the ceiling that catch and reflect every bit of light thrown at them and audible sounds of nature; it's like eating in an interior garden. Even the toilets make an entertaining diversion,  the toilet bowls art pieces in their own right.
I decided to try the seven course tasting menu; designed to "make my taste buds dance." And dance they certainly did. Eschewing the uber trendy "New Nordic" cuisine for something much more worldly, mixed with freshly foraged items direct from the forest, this was a menu that embraced the most unusual ingredients into an amalgam of flavours.  From the somewhat surprising combination of appetizers containing in one example, fresh seaweed that tasted every bit as good as your favourite herb and some insanely edible flowers I was served outside at a table on the delightful patio terrace, to the all round magnificence of mackerel with elderberry, carrot with coffee and sea buckthorn and cottage cheese with rosehip.  This was a culinary journey of some note and more than hint of humour. How about a dish entitled Forest Floor? A Beech leaf sorbet made with fresh beech leaves, chocolate mixed with birch bark oil and decorated with purple woodruff flowers.  Almost it seems, defying conventional cookery.



There is a another very good reason for putting Mielcke & Hurtigkarl on your culinary radar and that is the price. €85 for the tasting menu combined with €85 for seven accompanying wines is excellent value at this level in anyone's book.

This is outstanding food without all the hype. Miss it at your peril.
www.mhcph.com