Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Radio (07/04/14)

Radio is the restaurant that we would have thrown overboard had we stayed a day fewer in Copenhagen, and it was by far our favorite lunch.  Adam pondered whether it was better than any of the dinners, but I think it's impossible to declare greater talent in a delightful but shorter lunch -- with a heavy emphasis on grilled greens in every savory course -- than in the complexity and range of an extensive tasting menu.  I would be interested to see what they do for dinner, though.  (There was no menu -- our server reeled off that day's five dishes -- so I ended up taking notes during the meal that were easily turned into this post.)

At the server's recommendation, we both had (two) glasses of a Elbling (Trocken) from Mosel -- a lovely light wine from a grape that I'd never before heard of.  Will definitely have to try to track it down.

Radishes, rose petals, and whipped cream made for a pretty little salad amuse.  The unsweetened cream, which wasn't stiff like the dessert whipped cream that the description evokes, dressed the raw radishes with a bit of light richness.

Yet another great bread-and-butter pairing; this time, sourdough with caramelized onion butter.  Yum.

Our first course was also the best -- truly excellent.  (The savories came in reverse-order of how much we liked them, although we liked them all a lot.)  The small sea scallops were described as "fried," but this oft-repeated description appeared to mean just pan fried/seared.  The "fried" cucumber -- I think I've had something similar before? -- was surprising and good, and not mushy.  The grilled seaweed was delicious, while mussels foam added a delicate brininess, berries (I think lingonberries?) provided great acidity, and seaweed powder (which Adam accurately described as nori-esque) provided some extra umami oomph.

The Son of Man has a drink?

Raw mackerel was fishy but good with the various other elements of the dish, including lemon, grilled lettuce, and (not super crisp) fried parsley.  Whey foam from butter added slight sourness, dried black olives provided spots of saltiness, and parsley puree brightened.

Seared (again described as "fried") squid replaced chicken in the last savory, which was a nice accommodation for a restaurant that had no advance notice of our restrictions and only does a very limited menu (we ordered everything).  The tasty combination of grilled cabbage, apple foam, and chives tasted like a lightened version of Germanic cabbage and apple.  (As you can see, I demolished most of this dish before remembering that I hadn't photographed it.  But all the dishes had a similar look -- the seafood mostly hidden by some sort of grilled green and white foam.)

Swedish cow's milk cheese, lingonberry gel, lemon verbena.  Delicious but basic.

This may have been the only meal where strawberries weren't green.  Sweet pickled strawberries, strawberry sorbet, pine shoots, pine oil, lemon verbena crackers.  The pine shoots and crackers were both interesting, unfamiliar but well-paired with strawberries.  Summery and light, a lovely end to the meal.

The perfect pre-Noma lunch -- some really great dishes that didn't leave us feeling too weighed down to look forward to dinner (helped by a walk back to the hotel).

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Amass (07/05/2014)

I preferred our meals at Noma and Kadeau, but Amass was the perfect way to end our Copenhagen jaunt.  Low key even by Copenhagen standards, it's a big warehouse space with graffiti-decorated walls and huge outside fire pits.  (We noticed brown paper take-out containers going outside; apparently those in the know can come for just drinks and fried chicken eaten at the picnic tables or around the fires.)

We started well with these fantastic little pancakes, a lighter, more interesting play on blinis and caviar.  No one left more than a faint smeared trace behind.
cod roe, sour pancakes, broken creme fraiche

After the frozen monkfish liver at Noma, Nick, Adam, and I exchanged wary glances when this dish was explained and looked enviously at Harriet's replacement (potato, I think?).  But it was actually pretty good -- smooth fishiness and saltiness, enjoyable for only a bite.  (With 2012 Clairette – L'Anglore – Tavel.)
lumpfish liver, kelp

Moist, dense, served piping hot -- everyone lovedLovedLOVED this potato bread, which was great on its own or with the soured spread (pickled onions, grilled cabbage, and leek).  Before we realized that they'd bring us more, Adam's departure from the table for the bathroom was accompanied by strict instructions to "guard the bread."  We burned ourselves in our eagerness to eat it before it had properly cooled.  For Nick's own good, we had to impose a "no more bread unless it is being used to mop up sauces" rule.  Which he repeatedly violated.

The tart yogurt crisps on top of the asparagus, made by mixing yogurt with a stabilizer and dehydrating it into delicate sheets, really made this dish.  Much more interesting than I'd expected from the spare menu description, and visually beautiful to boot.  (With 2011 Cardinal – Valentin Valle – Saint-Quentin-la-Poterie.)
white asparagus, walnut, rose hip, yogurt

The carrot dish was probably my favorite of the night.  (This photo didn't come out quite as well as some of the subsequent ones, but I love a great dining action shot.)  Intensely sweet carrot flavor in both the sauce and roasted carrots, interesting acidity from the pickled pine, great with the dairy, and lightened by the nasturtium.  (With 2011 Virevolte – Gaëlle Berriau – Anjou.)
carrots, curd, pickled pine

Even Nick and Harriet opted out of the duck heart on this one.  I'm not sure if the yolk was always part of the dish or a replacement for the duck heart, but particularly well done if it was the latter; it added a great fatty richness.  Lovely sweet peas were hidden underneath.  (With 2012 St Laurent Dorflagen – Pittnauer – Burgenland.)
peas, red seaweed, St. John's wort

We're now hitting the point in the savory courses where my memories become a little fuzzier and more impressionistic.  I really liked this -- it was that sort of rich savory-homey deliciousness that really well done potatoes can be.  (I remember thinking that the little blossoms on top were cool and now can't for the life of me remember what we were told they are.)  (With 2011 Fêtembulles – Les vigne des l'Angevin – Jasnières.)
potatoes, green garlic, almond, lemon

This one was kind of cool: semi-dried cubes of root vegetables in a sauce made with red seaweed.  Nicely hearty textures/flavors for a veg dish.  Bits of cucumber added a raw contrast to the chewier cooked cubes.  (The chef who spooned the sauce at the table made some comment to the effect of that he was jealous that we were getting to eat it, because it was one of his favorites.)

Finally, the obligatory green strawberries, this time with turbot.  I have a hazy but positive memory of it.  (Harriet and Nick got "Pork Cheek, Greens, Grass, Virgin Butter," which I apparently didn't photograph, with 2012 Nas del Gegant – Escoda–Sanahuja – Conca De Barbera.)

The garden is gorgeous, and Amass makes great use of the outdoor space, encouraging guests to wander outside.  Fire pits were lit just as the sun started going down, so we were eager to go back outside once it was fully dark to enjoy them.

But first desserts.  Extremely creative and refreshing in the abstract -- the sour dairy played nicely against the anisey and herbaceous granita -- but I dislike anise flavors too much to have eaten more than a few bites of it.  (I think the absinthe was poured over the granita, not in it, but honestly I didn't eat enough to properly evaluate.)   Adam was a fan; I passed him my barely touched bowl.  The shades of deep greens were beautiful, however.
soured cream, sweet cicely, absinthe

So simple, and yet one of the most delicious desserts of the trip.  The rosemary oil made for a fascinating savory contrast to the delicious rhubarb sherbert.  I left nothing but a very shallow green puddle at the bottom of the bowl.  And I loved the lightly effervescent 2012 A Siassa – Franz Strohmeier – Steiermark so much that I ordered another glass to take fireside (pictured with the little cakes below). (Apparently the same dessert wine that we had at Noma, although it didn't make much of an impression there.)
rhubarb sherbert, rosemary, burnt chocolate

We took an additional round of drinks outside to enjoy the beautiful night and roaring fire (where we lingered until we were apologetically told that the restaurant closes at midnight).

Warm, tiny cakes flavored with fresh oregano were so good that I basically hoarded this entire napkinful while Adam, Nick, and Harriet shared a second batch on the other bench.  The oregano was an unexpected savory note -- unlike rosemary, I'm not sure that I've ever had it in a sweet before -- and when great with the jam (strawberry, if I recall correctly).

Service was a bit mixed.  Our initial waitress wasn't great.  We entirely understand that not getting advanced notice of dietary preferences can be hard on a restaurant -- and it would have been totally fine if she had nicely/apologetically told us that it wasn't possible -- but we were made to feel a bit chastised when Nick and Harriet asked whether they could omit the duck heart, which would already have to be done for our pre-notified pescatarianism. (A table of diners should never be joking that their server hates them when she's out of earshot five minutes after sitting!)  In the end, the kitchen accommodated them without a problem, but her obvious skepticism as to whether the chef would entertain the request just made us all feel awkward.  She also disappeared for so long while we were considering wine options that we ended up flagging down another server when our first course had arrived before we got an opportunity to place drink orders.  But everyone else, from chefs coming out of the kitchen to serve specific dishes to other servers to the Jason Segel-look-alike somm to Matt Orlando's absolutely delightful wife Julie, was exactly the kind of friendly that we'd come to expect from good Copenhagen restaurants.  The rest of the staff did such a great job that Adam later had to remind me when I was raving about the service of the initial weirdness.  Case in point: when I (only semi-jokingly) asked for more of their irresistible potato bread after the desserts had been cleared, Julie demurred by saying that we were going to be getting some little cakes still -- which more than sated any lingering appetite -- only to present me with a piping hot, white-paper-and-red-string-wrapped bundle of two more rounds as we were getting ready to leave.  And Kim asked whether I'd gotten the bread to make sure.  (So now I've successfully pulled a Corinne.)  I finished that bread on the plane home the next afternoon and was thrilled to have it.

Monday, July 21, 2014


Driving to Chilhowie, VA and back in under thirty-six hours has to be the most ridiculous travel we've ever done for dinner.  Sure, we've flown across the Atlantic and this continent for other meals (el bulli, Noma, Modernist dinner), but those were destinations that we were excited to visit for more than just the meal.  Chilhowie is the middle of nowhere, about as far into Virginia from DC as you can get without hitting another state.

Deterred by the 350 mile drive, we'd never made it to Town House, ending up disappointed at the missed opportunity when John and Karen Shields closed it, and disappointed a second time when their DC project was put on hold after a Georgetown space fell through.  We weren't going to miss the opportunity to attend one of their Riverstead dinners.

The two-room Riverstead inn is a charmingly restored house; a newer extension allowed for a redone kitchen and two large bathrooms off the upstairs bedrooms.  We made good time and pulled up around three in the afternoon (after later-than-planned 9:35 a.m. departure), where we were immediately greeted warmly by Neil Wavra, whom we'd met during our two stays at the Ashby Inn and who is basically serving as inn manager and sommelier for these dinners.  (I would love to be a regular at a DC-based restaurant with John and Karen in the kitchen and Neil running the front of the house.)  Neil introduced us to Karen, who was the only one in the kitchen at that hour; main prep is done at the Town House space and then plastic wrapped and carted over around 4:30.  Given that she probably had lots of other things to finish up (not to mention that she's a month from giving birth to their second daughter!), I felt a bit bad about how long she spent standing around chatting with us, but we really enjoyed it.  (Like us, they build vacations around food!)

The intimate dining room has six tables seating a maximum of sixteen (eleven on our evening).  The walls are adorned with a number of framed menus from the Shields' personal collection, including from Charlier Trotter's (where they met -- Karen tells an adorable story of their meet-cute: on John's first day, he carried a leaking tray of cuttlefish across the kitchen, spotting her pastry area; she followed the trail of black dots to the source), their wedding, and Mugaritz (her answer for favorite meal, eaten on their honeymoon).  The small size and general level of food nerdiness -- pre-dinner conversation in the lounge surveyed the relative merits of minibar, Komi, Saison, and Benu, and we walked in only minutes before Neil rang the triangle to announce dinner -- required to attend one of these dinners, given the schlep, might counsel in favor of a communal table, but John suggested that not all of their diners would want to be forced into that option.  (As it was, we ended up in so much conversation with a solo diner at the next table that by dessert he had joined our table.  By the end of the meal, the three of us and three women at another adjacent table -- the only locals, former Town House fans -- were sharing a nightcap of twenty-year-old Pappy Van Winkle brought by our solo-dining new friend.)

Once John and the stagiers arrived, we hovered around the kitchen doorway chatting and watching some of the prep.  (Thanks to Adam's Kickstarter pledge, we were also able to spend a few hours on Sunday in the kitchen at Town House observing prep and generally pestering everyone with questions.  It was a great insight into the whole experience.)  John and Karen were both unfailingly friendly and nice about our intrusion.  (I'm wondering if they could be convinced to let me come stage during some future weekend of dinners, despite my lack of training.)  Ryan Santos, who runs a pop-up in Cincinnati, won our immediate respect when he told us how he'd just staged for five weeks at Kadeau on Bornholm and that Geranium was also his least favorite Copenhagen meal.  A sixteen-year-old stagier from Toronto impressed us with his precocious dedication; he runs his own pop-up back home.

Before launching into the course-by-course, big picture: we had some outstanding dishes, and an excellent experience.  (They're obviously very talented and creative.)  Other courses were less impressive -- although everything was enjoyable -- but our conversation with John on Sunday made clear that he has a great sense of the weaknesses and that many of the issues seem attributable to the kinks of this temporary format.  I am glad we made the trek, and very excited to taste what they can do in a permanent restaurant setting.

We wandered down from our room at around six, choosing to enjoy the unseasonably pleasant weather -- thanks polar vortex! -- on the porch instead of joining the older-skewing group in the lounge.  (The three local women, about our age, had opted to the do the same.)  Neil quickly brought us flutes of Foggy Ridge "Handmade" Cider, a different offering from a maker that we've enjoyed on many prior occasions.  (There is a local bent to the wine list, which is divided into "Old World" and "Old Dominion.")

We loved the first canape.  Vacuum-sealed sunchokes are cooked and peeled.  The skins are dried, deep fried for mere seconds, sprinkled with salt, filled with puree of sunchoke and creme fraiche (at least when we saw it made on Sunday), and topped with marigold petals (nicely thematic, we later learned; marigolds are in the same family as sunflowers).  Delicious.
sunchoke cannoli

A sweet (honey) and acidic (vinegar?) gelee contrasted well with the fishy turbot skin; another strong snack.
turbot with honey

The weakest bite -- a somewhat dehydrated roasted beet skin wrapped over diced roasted beet -- although I liked the brightness of grapefruit zest on the beets.  (John was also apparently disappointed with how this turned out.  On Sunday we got to sample a fantastic, shalloty aioli that would somehow be integrated with great-smelling wood-roasted onions and blueberries as a replacement for Sunday's dinner.)
beet nigiri

The best dish of the night -- amazing.  Pureed tomatoes were drained into a hotel pan of sea grapes (the little purplish-red seaweed vesicles); seaweed-infused tomato water was later frozen into a granita.  Clean tomato flavor from the granita and green tomato seeds (painstakingly scooped out of cherry tomatoes) got briny seasoning from the sea grapes, trout roe, and dashi.  The exploding texture of both the sea grapes and trout roe was cleverly parallel.  (The dish also contained kasu, the fermeneted lees used to make sake, although it was an ingredient new to me and I have no idea what it tastes like in isolation.)  Beautiful.
tomato with seawater

Raw corn kernels, corn silk, and a creamy sauce including (I think?) more corn.  I liked this dish -- I love fresh corn -- but it needed something else to make it pop.  (My disappointment here was mitigated upon learning that it was a last-minute replacement for a planned crab dish that had to be scraped when the FedExed crab arrived insufficiently fresh to be used.)  It was a bit too sweet for its placement in the meal, and the lemon zest on top was somehow reminiscent of lemon curd for me, making me think that it would have made for a good savory-straddling dessert.  (John decided on Sunday to turn it into one, incorporating verbena and corn ice cream, I believe.  I wish I could have tried that.)
sweet corn with toasted cream

A challenging, interesting dish -- the saltiness of basically raw clams (and seaweed powder?) balanced by the sweetness of roasted onions.  (I'd thought at the time that the smokiness came from the onions, but I was fascinated to later watch Ryan cold smoke slivers of clam by foil-covering a hotel pan filled with ice, a smaller tray of the sliced clam, and a smoldering log from the indoor grill; the clam took on a beautifully smoked flavor from only about fifteen minutes under the foil.  Also, whole geoducks are disgusting; I'd never seen one up close like that before.)  I liked this dish more than Adam did; he wanted more sweet onion flavor to counter to wave-to-the-face brininess of the geoduck.  He's right that I probably would have preferred it that way, but I think that just comes down to a personal preference issue -- we're still acquiring a taste for oysters, and prefer the sweeter, milder end of the spectrum -- rather than an execution issue.  If you prefer stronger oysters or raw clams, you'd have no complaints.  But John wasn't done tinkering; by Sunday he was pureeing the clam bellies into an aioli with safflower oil and lemon to be added (I think) to this dish.  I hadn't thought I would like the result, fearing Too Much Clam, but I did; I'm sure it made for a good way to add another layer of flavor.
geoduck clam with spring onion

I quite liked the little fermented vegetable (including leeks and ramps) sourdough biscuits, but I loved the butter.  Even better than cheesy butter is cheese in butter.  In this case, Grayson was added and then it was dusted with onion powder.  I slathered on a 1:1 ratio of butter to bread.
vegetable sourdough

Fava beans got a great flavor from the grilling, over a light base of grated radish and cucumber.  (We were at the time a bit confused as to why we didn't get the turbot on this that other tables got, but it worked well enough as a vegetarian course.)
grilled fava beans & cucumber

The combination of chard, roasted beet, slightly sour cooked raspberries, and grated preserved egg yolk was delicious.  My complaint is that it felt a bit incomplete without a protein to replace the omitted duck heart, although I imagine that this would be less likely to happen in a full restaurant (with its greater depth of ingredient stores) than a set-menu pop-up.
dried beet with swiss chard

Another creative bread, but the drizzle of honey over the drier biscuit was no match for the earlier sourdough and that fantastic butter.
sprouted wheat biscuit with sorghum

The omitted turbot from the fava bean course appeared here to replace lamb.  I loved the interesting combination of the black walnut paste (hidden under the caramelized milk crisp) and miso sauce.  The crispy milk is made by patient simmering of a thin pool of milk in a pan until it reduces into essentially a milk skin crepe, which then browns with a turn-away-and-it's-burned rapidity.  A cool textural contrast and a subtle but nice flavor (although it was subtle enough to make us wonder whether it was worth Ryan's effort and scaled fingertips from peeling them gently out of the hot pan).
turbot with nocino & miso

It's been a month of outstanding desserts, and these were two of the best and most creative.  A smear of rich, densely flavored beet fudge cake was topped with fresh mint, smokey embers ice cream -- made from infusing embers in the milk before churning -- and mint ash.  Adam doesn't even really like mint in desserts and loved this.  Fascinating.
embers & wintergreen branch

Adam probably preferred the combination of white chocolate and carrot (both densely textured in its preserved form and sweeter in bits that I think I recall as roasted), paired with a gorgeous (in both appearance and flavor) salad including carrot flowers, lemon thyme, and purslane.
preserved carrot

The olive oil meringue, which we'd watched Karen prepare earlier that afternoon, was part meringue, part cake.  Very delicious, but in a much more rustic, homey way after the sophistication of the prior two desserts.  (It may have been better suited to a mini size, as more of a petit four last bite.)
warm olive oil meringue

Overnight guests are greeted in the morning by an array of cold breakfast items.  Homemade yogurt, blueberry chia seed compote, and granola made for a very good parfait, but the standout was a delicious chard and roasted  spring onion crostata.  Tart blueberry, beet, and rhubarb was interesting (in a good way).  (The tray made it easy for me to bring it upstairs to Adam.  Because I'm nice. :))

 We were so excited to go hang out in the kitchen that we didn't even mind getting up early too much.  If only every meal could include the opportunity for such a fun postmortem.  

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Finally, Noma!

After waiting over three months for this meal -- and really, years if you consider how long we've wanted to go -- I was a little worried that Noma wouldn't be able to meet our high expectations, so it was a relief when it didn't disappoint.  (Happy Fourth of July to us!)  I can't say enough complimentary things about the staff, the beautiful space, and the overall experience.  The dining room is among my favorites ever, with its light wood beams and panoramic wharf views out the open floor-to-ceiling windows.  Everyone was unfailingly friendly, from being extremely gracious about our almost twenty minutes late arrival (we did have the concierge call, at least), to taking photos of us in front of the restaurant, to providing a great bar recommendation near our hotel when we had basically closed Noma down after midnight and wanted one more cocktail.  (The only tiny service nit: I found the horde of staff standing together to greet us when we arrived to be a bit overwhelming.)  In particular, manager James Spreadbury was wonderfully attentive, offering great advice on drinks and generally answering our questions/making conversation with us.  (Incidentally, as I discovered afterwards, he has quite the inspirational Noma origin story.  Makes me want to show up on the doorstep of a beloved restaurant and see what happens.)

(A note on getting reservations: I found the process to be relatively straightforward.  Although it was annoying to set an alarm for 3:50 a.m. in order to log on to their website just before 4:00, only to end up in the mid-600s in the online queue.  By the time I got through forty-five minutes later, dinner tables for two were gone -- I think lunch was still a possibility -- but there was plenty of four-top availability.  Luckily Nick and Harriet agreed to join us; having their company made the evening all the more fun.)

The view from our windowside table (taken as the sun started to set, well into the savories):
I hope that bridge is finished by the time we make it back to Copenhagen someday; we could have walked from our hotel if it had been.  (Speaking of hotels: I am a fan of neither the Scandinavian double duvet nor the lack of well-functioning air conditioning, although I acknowledge that I may be an outlier on the latter.  My best night's sleep of the trip was our first night in London, when jetlag rendered me unable to convert Celsius to Fahrenheit properly and I set the thermostat to 16 degrees.  Even Adam was cold!)

After confirming the dietary restrictions that I had previously emailed and asking a few clarification questions (yes, we will eat insects), we were off.
red currant and green strawberry

Oh kohlrabi, my pick for Vegetable Most Likely to Nonplus CSA Recipients.  I liked the warm soup, which also included (I think?) gooseberry and green strawberry.  Adam thought it was just okay.  Cute presentation.
Nordic coconut
More fun was the crispy fried moss with it dip of mushroom cream.
moss and cep

Beautiful flower tarts were our first "wow" bite, thanks to a surprising seaweed emulsion lining the rye crust.
flower tarts

I liked the peas at the time -- how can you not like fresh, sweet peas and radishes? -- but it hasn't left a strong memory as I write this a week and a half later.
peas and radishes

Sadly, the printed menu included pickled and smoked quails eggs, which sound awesome but we didn't get to try.  No idea why.  However, the charred roses were cool, an interesting combination of smokey and floral.  (The huge open window next to our table allowed delicious grill smells to periodically waft over us.  Excellent.)
flatbread with wild roses

Another favorite snack: deep fried cabbage leaves sandwiched with sea beans and watercress puree.  I'm not sure I've ever had crispy cabbage before; its delicate fried crunch was balanced by the brightness (and more substantial, but still crisp, texture) of the filling.
white cabbage and samphire
The frozen monkfish liver coated our mouths as it melted with a taste that haunted us long after the actual liver had dissolved.  I just wanted the flavor to go away; Nick and Adam agreed.  (I just reread a four-year-old post on Eleven Madison Park where I had a similar complaint about the mouth-coating grossness of spherified fish.)  Thankfully, this was the only unpleasant bite of the meal.  Harriet seemed much happier with her carrot fruit roll-up.
caramelized milk and monkfish liver

But then, the highly anticipated ants! These ants are one of the most surprising, coolest things I've ever eaten.  Nick, who had previously eaten them (raw) at the Noma pop-up in London, had raved in advance about their lemongrassiness, but I was still amazed by how the tiny ants packed such delicious, acidic flavor.  (In keeping with their local ethos, Noma uses no citrus.)  Probably my favorite of the snacks, due to the novelty of the ants and the interesting combination of charred cucumbers -- grill me anything and I'll probably like it -- citrusy ants, parsley flowers, and scallop "fudge" for dipping.  I wouldn't want to eat that briny fudge on its own, but the whole combo was great.
cucumber and dried scallop

I love leeks, I love grill char, and the cod roe sauce was a great way to salt the onion.  Although we were told that the outer leek was just the vessel and we were only intended to eat the pre-sliced rounds in the center, Adam, Nick, and I all hacked at the inner layers of the leek with our tiny wooden spoons to enjoy an extra few bites.
burnt leek and cod roe

Note on bread: apparently I never took a photo of the bread, which was probably my least favorite dinner bread in Copenhagen.  (But that's like being the shortest starting player on a winning NBA team.)  The butter was great: one a very white sheep's milk butter, like a mild, soft sheep cheese, and the other a yellow, kind of curded cow's milk butter that seemed almost like a buttery fresh ricotta.

Action shot!  I thought that this was a beautiful, delicate dish.  The shrimp inside the little leaf ravioli were incredibly sweet, balanced by nice acidity from either the leaves or the sauce (or both).  (I believe the flowers are beach mustard.)  Adam was less of a fan, although I think Nick agreed with me.
shrimp and goosefoot, radish and yeast

I could have sworn we were told that this was turbot liver, but maybe it was pressed roe?  Whatever part of the fish it was, it had a meaty taste and texture that we loved, and which contrasted beautifully with the sweetness of the raw cherries.  Fantastic.
sour cherries, turbot roe and seafood

Harriet's sub due to her non-fish-eating:

More ants!  Nick's came on beef tartare, but ours came on a delicious bed of grilled onions and fermented pear.  Clearly I'm partial to the ants -- I want a shakerful with which to season at home! -- but I loved this one too.  Sour-sweet pear, sour ants, roasty-sweet onions -- just delicious.
onions and ants

This must have been the low point of the savory courses, because the beets didn't leave a strong impression.  I think I liked the sour berries.  I recall discussing how sloe berries can be used to make gin, but I don't know if that was because the dish tasted gin-y.  (So basically I'm useless here.)
beetroot, sloe berries and aromatic herbs

If this appeared on a brunch menu, I would want to order it every time.  Rich, dense egg yolk and potatoes lightened just enough by elderflower and rose hip pulp.  Excellent haute comfort food.
cured egg yolk, potato and elderflower

A lovely, relatively simple combination of beautifully cooked turbot and vivid green flavors of nasturtium and wood sorrel.
turbot and nasturtium, cream and wood sorrel 

Another sub for Harriet, although I don't remember what it is:

Between the savory courses and dessert we were encouraged to go outside (with our wine, of course), where we enjoyed the perfect weather and beautiful sunset from a picnic table, admired the building, explored a weird (sadly locked) blue geometric dome, and goaded Nick to harass the bees.


Then back inside for dessert.  I really enjoyed the little rhubarb rose; I'm a big rhubarb fan and enjoyed the tang added by the creme fraiche.
rhubarb and sorrel, creme fraiche and Spanish chervil

Perfectly ripe (of course) raspberries and an interesting (in a good way) fermented rye cream:
raspberries, cream and rye

After dessert, we moved to the cozier lounge area for a few final sweets and more booze.  An assortment of flavored eau de vie: pear, raspberry, apple, and barrel-aged apple.  I like the second and fourth a lot, but they were too strong for us to drink more than a taste each.

This sweet bread, with a spread of fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt, was amazing.  It tastes as though it has been soaked in caramel, but apparently the caramel is mixed into the dough just before baking.  Harriet and I both loved it.  (Sadly for Adam, he doesn't remember it!)

Seaweed paste (I think) Danish.  Interesting, but couldn't rival that caramel bread.

In addition to wine pairings, many of which were excellent, we also did a juice pairing, with varying success (for example, cucumber was unfortunately weighed down by whey; pun definitely not intended).  With our last glasses of wine in hand, we were given a leisurely tour of the (sadly by then empty) kitchen and upstairs prep and planning areas, which boast an impressive collection of neatly labeled ingredient containers and brainstorming boards (and the occasional cautionary poster).  (The space -- lined on one side with tables for staff meal -- would make a great setting for a low-key, small, delicious wedding.)  How fun it must be to play up there.

By the time we came back downstairs it was past midnight; as we paid the bill I think we were the only diners left downstairs.  A bit more chatting with James, chef de cuisine Dan Giusti (who had been showing Julianne Moore and her husband around while we were having our own tour), and other staff -- who answered patiently as I peppered them with last-minute questions about additional ingredients that weren't listed in the menu descriptions --  a great recommendation to go to The Union, and we piled into a cab in search of our nightcap.
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