Our slightly disappointing meal at Noma on Friday night left a lot riding on Kadeau's performance. The new, more formal space is very nice, a hopefully successful bid for their second Michelin star without getting too stuffy. (They've also adopted my least-favorite aspect of the Noma experience: the collective hello from the staff when you first enter.) I wish it were more brightly lit in the dining room, but adjustable/removable track lighting facilitates food photography, which is presumably not a coincidence.
We were served a tart, refreshing herb-infused gooseberry juice in the lounge area, with a view of the lovely outdoor patio. (The herbs included angelica, woodruff, and mint.)
|Gooseberry and angelica infusion|
The first dish (at our window-side table) was also the first appearance of the season's ubiquitous asparagus, served with kohlrabi, blackcurrant leaves, ramson, pureed spinach, wood sorrel, and mussel broth. Some of the liquid (the mussel broth?) was more acidic, the kohlrabi was slightly crisp, and the springy combination tasted best when I got bits of everything (especially the broth) all together.
|Blackcurrant, green asparagus and kohlrabi|
A blanched kale leaf was filled with chopped oysters and some more cooked kale, dusted in pea powder, and accompanied by cream. I really liked the kale -- a balanced combination of almost raw and nicely cooked -- and the pea dust was doing a lot of work, adding both mild springy sweetness and a bit of acidity.
|Oysters, kale, parsley|
The terrine of pickled, fermented, and raw vegetables, garnished with sliced gooseberries and tiny pine cones, was a bit more polarizing. I loved the fermented tomato and chamomile oil broth, which was thicker than I'd expected and a surprising combination of tomato and herbal notes. Adam, however, didn't like the texture of the terrine with the broth. (We were also told that there was some beach onion in there somewhere. The cheese didn't leave an impression.)
|Pickled vegetables, fresh cheese, September tomatoes juice and chamomile|
The tiny pine cones were a bit of a theme throughout the meal, appearing again in the next course: a beautiful crackerscape of clams, pickled apple, pine fronds and pickled cones, and flowers. A very interesting dish -- Christmasy from the pine, sweet-sour from the apple, the clams briny but not overwhelming.
|Mahogany clam, elstar apples, fermented wheat, pickled pine cones, and flowers|
Kadeau's play on potato salad was excellent, the best dish of the meal to that point. The potato was cooked with lovage, served under sorrel dusted with kale powder, and doused in a sauce of turbot bones, wine, butter, cream, herring, capers, with bits of potato chips. Adam thought it was the best beurre blanc of the week, which featured many very good beurre blancs (beurres blanc?). Fishy-creamy, punctuated with hits of acid and bits of crisp texture, just delicious. Felt very updated traditional Nordic.
|Withered sorrel, potatoes, smoked herring and lovage|
The memory of Kadeau's bread and butter still lingers two years later, so just as I was thrilled to see that Amass still served the potato bread, we were a bit preemptively disappointed to see that Kadeau's bread had changed so dramatically. The emmer flatbread (brushed with cep oil) wasn't my favorite bread of the week, but it was a delicious delivery vehicle for an amazing butter. The butter was infused with smoked cherry wood and dusted with spices, rendering it beautifully umami-rich. (It vaguely tasted of oregano, but not quite.)
|Roasted bread, herb butter infused with cherry wood embers|
The sweet langoustine was a bit overpowered by the brininess of the shaved scallop bottarga and the nuttiness of the shaved walnut. Very interesting -- challenging -- evocative of flakes of the fish food that my parade of childhood aquarium fish was fed. (Not that I ate fish food; I'm going off of my memory of the smell.) I liked it more than that connection suggests, but it was my least favorite dish of the night.
|Langoustine, walnuts, seaweed, and salted scallop roe|
I loved the fermented asparagus sauce, the asparagus itself had an excellent grill char, the sorrel was a nice bright note, but there was too much salty caviar. (I scraped the sauce off the plate but left a little mound of the caviar in its dregs.)
|White asparagus, caviar and woodruff|
We already wanted to visit Bornholm on the strength of Kadeau alone, but our server's description of the smokehouses -- where locals stop in for smoked fish and beer (hence the beer pairing, common enough back home but apparently unusual in Copenhagen) -- made us want to go even more. (And we'll swing by Daniel Berlin on the way?) A chef dished up the soft interior of the smoked side of salmon, dressed it in a lovely, brightly acidic vinegar of red berries, and garnished the bowl with sliced unripe figs. (Although not a berry, we were told plum was one of the ingredients in the vinegar, maybe something got lost in translation.) Very delicious, with an excellent sense of place. (But we also wanted to eat the jerky-ish top layer!)
|Cold and warm smoked salmon, sloe, cherry blossom and fig|
with 2012 Frank Boon, Gueze Mariage Parfait, Belgium
Sweet chunks of pickled pumpkin were dressed in ramson, slightly nutty sunflower seeds, and a wonderfully umami sauce made with "leftover pieces of mackerel" and cheese fat. (Our server brought over the large glass jar of oil-infusing cheese, which smelled amazing
.) Adam's commentary: "pushes the limits of salt, oily in a great way, almost Asian." My clear favorite of the night, and a strong contender for best of the trip.
|Pickled pumpkin, garlic, sunflower seeds and cheese fat|
Danish lobster tail (subbed for pork rack) had a nice grilled crust, but it was a tad tougher than ideal as a result. Nevertheless, it paired beautifully with the great, deeply red, sweet sauce -- beets, raspberries, strawberries, currants, black garlic (described as fermented garlic, but I'm not sure whether it actually was or that was just the way it was explained) -- that had just enough bite. Pickled green garlic stems, corn flowers, and chive blossoms added a bit of beauty and allium depth.
|Lobster tail roasted in the fireplace, black garlic, blackcurrant and salted flower buds|
We got flowers instead of lamb heart to accompany a super-roasted beet, which became almost a plated cheese course as a result. The strong blue cheese cream cut the beet's sweetness, while a vinegar "of all the red berries" added acidic balance. Another highlight.
|Ember-baked beetroot, grilled blue cheese, pickled beach rose|
The dessert-that-isn't-ice-cream for which I'd been waiting all trip! Caramelized buttermilk custard was swathed in a layer of deep green pine oil and elderberry gel and dotted with tiny fresh pine cones. Creamy, fresh, acidic, a bit floral. Just great.
|Caramelized buttermilk tart, pine cones and elderflower|
I liked the lovely housemade creme fraiche and sweet-tart berries (fermented raspberries, white currants preserved in gooseberry juice), but the walnut schnapps added a bit of an acetone note that made me unsure how I felt about its addition. Adam suggested that this would be a great place to use shaved walnuts, and I agree.
|Fermented raspberries, white currant juice and walnut schnapps|
We readily moved to the outside patio for petit fours and a soothing chamomile-rose hip tea. (Plentiful throws made it cozy despite the slightly chilly night. May Copenhagen temperatures fluctuated a lot over our stay.) The slice of caramelized apple with wood sorrel and pine shoots suffered from a bit of a structural integrity issue but was nicely fresh. The tartlet was very good. But the fried sourdough with (very salty, in a good way!) caramel was the standout -- as my notes read, SO GOOD.
|Juniper cookie with pear and thyme; Crispy sourdough with caramel of oak buds; Apple and woodsorrel (clockwise from top)|
In 2014, Adam and I spent a lot of time debating whether Noma or Kadeau was the better meal (as subjective as such a title is); I finally persuaded him that Noma's greater consistency and overall experience topped Kadeau's standout dishes and lower lows. This time around, Kadeau has upped the polish of its service -- not necessarily our preference, but hopefully will appeal to the Michelin judges -- and decreased the dish variance over the meal (raising the average, although never quite hitting the same level of individual dish high), while Noma performed less well (especially at the first dinner). No need for an extended debate; Kadeau takes this round.