Copenhagen and Amsterdam Short Trip Report April 2019 (Noma, Kadeau, Palaegade, 212)

I debated adding this to the Copenhagen thread, but since I have an addition or two outside, figured I would start a new one. I’ll skip straight to the main event with the first post, which would be Noma. We went during Seafood season, and with the exception of one dish, our menu was the same as the one @BradFord experienced.

The service was warm and helpful, yet not overbearing. We booked a shared table, so it was mandatory to get either a wine pairing or a juice pairing, and we got one of each. Seated at our shared table was a couple from Amsterdam, a pair from South Africa, and a pair from Greenland. So it was an eclectic crowd. I think the experience itself was special, because we all knew that getting a reservation was difficult, and you had this bonding through that experience. It was also fantastic hearing everybody else’s food (and other) stories. In fact, we all got along so well that we were the last ones to finish our dinner time slot (starting at 5pm, but I believe they had an 8pm seating), and they asked us to proceed to a post-dinner drinks room, where we could order additional drinks. Clearly this has happened many times before.

I will cut to the chase, but will try to not belabor the point. I really respect what Chef Rezdepi is doing, by foraging and trying to expand the universe of foods that folks enjoy in a meal. He certainly isn’t the only one doing that these days, but I believe he is one of the pioneers. They also win points for uniqueness, and painstaking execution. And to allay any Majordomo-type questions, no I don’t think there were execution issues :wink: The service and experience were fantastic, as mentioned above. However, I did not think the food was delicious. When I look at these pictures, I struggle to think of any one dish that I am craving right now. I just did not appreciate the combination of flavors. Or, I would say, lack of flavor, in many cases. I think the best dishes of the night may have been the ramps, the stars (dessert), and perhaps the lumpfish roe. If this restaurant were easily accessible in LA, but you renamed it “Rene’s Tavern” or “Vespertine”* :grin:, I would never go. The last “fine dining” experience that I can remember that was this disappointing to me flavorwise vs. expectations was Mugaritz in SanSebastian. Clearly I am in the minority on this, and I highly doubt I will dissuade anyone from trying to go to Noma (nor am I trying to - it’s a food bucket list experience for many, including myself), but that was my experience.

I would normally wonder if it’s just because I do not like “New Nordic” cuisine, but the meal we had the night before, at Kadeau, was absolutely extraordinary, and easily makes my top 10 fine dining experiences ever. And judging by reviews, Kadeau’s cuisine is less accessible than Noma’s.

  • Sorry I couldn’t resist - never been to Vespertine, but when I read JGold’s review of it, I feel it’s applicable to my experience at Noma, where he uses every thing but deliciousness to defend the restaurant.

Pics of the outside

Fresh Norwegian scallop - it was good, not more memorable than innumerable raw scallops I’ve eaten

You’re supposed to use the shell to scoop up the scallop like so

Seafood platter: carpet clam, venus clam, mahogany clam - I think the venus clam was the only one where the bright flavors stood out to me

Marinated sea shrimp - the “shrimp” was some sort of gelatinous concoction that tasted like fruit roll ups

Grey shrimp cooked with sea lettuce - a shrimp wonton

Lumpfish roe and cured egg yolk

Local ramps to accompany the lumpfish roe - this might have been the best bite of the meal

Cured turbot (in corn miso) - served lukewarm - the curing didn’t seem to elicit any of the turbot flavor, so mostly what I got out of this dish was texture

Medium rare blue shell mussel (the seaweed was not edible), with a broth that you drank

Cod bladder simmered with quince

Cod tongue schnitzel

Salt cod pie - we enjoyed the oyster leaf that accompanied it, but have had that elsewhere

Beach grab gel and pinecones

Boiled brown crab on flatbread - tasted like an empanada

Hot smoked, then barbecued arctic king crab - different country, and different species of crab, but the grilled crab I had at Kimoto in Tokyo last fall was much more flavorful than this

Crab salad (with a bunch of different flowers) - I respect the attempt to combine different and untraditional flavors here, but I thought the sum was less than the parts - the crab + the floral taste of the flowers were not a great combination

Salted and dried berries from summer - I rather enjoyed this, as the acidity of the berries and fragrance from cheese highlight the best that this type of cuisine has to offer

Cardamom scented sea star - the texture was like caramel or taffy - pretty delicious

Chocolate cod skin - a nicely dried/fried cod skin coated with chocolate; it was interesting and novel

Juice pairings
Green gooseberry
Apple & herbs
Saffron & pumpkin
Quince & lovage
Cloudberry & oxalis
Tomato & fig leaf

Our dining room after we all filed out

The kitchen

The post-dinner hang-out drinking room

Cute menu with the fish attached


Thanks for sharing; I will post my thoughts in a bit. I’ve heard great things about Kadeau, but I wasn’t able to get in to that or Daniel Berlin (too late / dining partner joined after). But, my guess is Noma is way, way beyond Vespertine. Vespertine seems to be doing “different for the sake of different.” Perhaps Jordan Kahn has progressed, but my meal at Red Medicine was absolutely awful, with flavors and textures being so poorly executed, it’s become a bad joke among the friends I took to Red Medicine. It would be a quantum leap for the meal I had at Red Medicine to be anything within spitting distance of Noma. Based on Red Medicine, I won’t touch Vespertine, but I’m super skeptical.

FWIW, I was encouraged by some sommeliers from other restaurants to do bottles at Noma instead of Noma’s beverage pairings (which lean acidic and show a preference for natural wines).

I understand your reaction to Seafood Season at Noma 2.0 - some think it’s austere and not grounded in a whole lot of “cooking,” and I think Spring’s Vegetable menu might have more in store. However, the seafood we had was of exceptional quality, but it’s really less of your normal tasting menu and more of a tasting of clams, cod, and crab. The crab leg being incredible for us. I do intend to do a big trip to Tokyo, and Kimoto is definitely on my list.

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Yes, my “Vespertine” comment is likely overly hyperbolic :slight_smile: - it seemed amusing to write it at the time.

If we had had the opportunity, I definitely would done a bottle - a white burgundy (which I know is exactly in your wheelhouse!) would have been awesome to go with this meal.

It’s interesting, I don’t necessarily have a problem with some food that others view as austere (e.g., Kyoto-style Japanese kaiseki), but this just didn’t hit the right note with me. I know you enjoyed the meal - I will be looking forward to seeing your view of how this compares to your upcoming meals in Japan, especially Kimoto!

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Oh I get that, no worries - I can see where one may not really enjoy this one, it had a fair amount of acidity + fairly mild tastes. Inspired by your Kimoto review, indeed. I’m way more excited about going to Japan than visiting pretty much anywhere else.

Jerome Prevost / La Closerie was a great match (ok, Champagne but almost Burgundian at heart). We also did an '09 Chablis 1er (maybe Pacalet) which did very well, too. I’d consider Corton-Charlemagne, but their selection was a bit spendy and we just had some Bonneau du Martray at Geranium for lunch.

For Vegetable Season, I might consider some Condrieu.

From what others told me, the Noma beverage pairings seem to amplify the acidity/austerity.

Whereas in a kaiseki meal, if you have something like simple simmered kabu with a little yuzu rind and kinome leaf, a sake pairing sounds like it would provide more complete overall taste profile.

Anyway, looking forward to the rest of your reports :+1:

Palaegade - this was a nice break between tasting menus, and this post is a nice break between posting about tasting menus! I came here at the rec of our fellow board poster, and it did not disappoint. Smorrebrod is meant to be a bunch of small plates, and they recommended that we order 3-4 per person. As you can see from the size of the servings (though I know we ordered some of the largest and most elaborate ones), 3-4 would have been… ambitious. The three dishes were more than enough for the two of us.

We ordered two servings of aquavit to go with the meal. We were recommended the Indonesian longpepper and the caraway. I could taste the spice in the first and could smell the fragrance of the ingredients in the latter. I wouldn’t drink this by itself, but both varieties that they gave us really complemented the flavors and heartiness of the meal.

Lobster with egg on top - once split, the egg yolk just oozed onto the dish. This was a nice combination of flavors.

Herring tasting with four flavors: traditional herring, curried herring, fried herring, and some berry cured herring. @BradFord My SO (who has a much better palate than I do) thinks it was rhubarb. I liked the traditional and the berry flavored herring the most, but to be honest, the difference among the four was somewhat subtle, except for the curried herring. The fried herring was a tad soggy.

I don’t recall the exact name of the dish, but we were told that this translates to “shooting star” in Danish. This was our favorite, and I would highly recommend it. The dish was a combination of shrimp, fried fish, asparagus, and (poached?) fish. It was a bit unwieldy to get all the flavors into any single bite, but the ingredients singularly and in combination were delicious. We had ordered all these dishes to share, but this one arrived in front of my SO, and wasted no time claiming most of it for her own :slight_smile:


Thanks for a good and honest review. Almost off-topic is the comment that all your co-diners were not Denmark/Copenhagen. When we ate at Tickets Bar in Barcelona a few years I didn’t notice any locals. I don’t know if that means anything. ???

ETA: Added palaegade to my file. This sounds more like our kinda food.

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@NYCtoLA great reports. Looking forward to the Kadeau recap; that’s one that hasn’t shown up on my radar. Its great to hear an alternative view on Noma, helps temper one’s expectation if and when I ever make it there. The closest I’ve come is running into René at Union Sq market last Spring; friendly chap.

Still ranks as my worst meal EVER!

Michelin just gave Vespertine 2 stars. I believe Noma has two stars, so I guess they’re saying the restaurants are equal :joy:

(PS clearly joking - Michelin standards vary hugely by geography)

tempted … but I’m still going to pass on Vespertine.


I know I made some bold statements about Kadeau and left everybody hanging :slight_smile: so here’s the follow up. This is one of the best fine dining meals I’ve ever had, definitely in the top 10.

Kadeau is the second branch of a Danish restaurant that first opened up on the island of Bornholm. I’ve never been, but my impression is that it is like the Ibiza of Denmark, sans the partying. New Nordic restaurants are known for their focus on local ingredients, but Kadeau boasts ingredients that are not only local to Denmark, but specifically to Bornholm. I can’t recall how I first read up about the restaurant (aside from the obvious Red Book reference), but reviews had been mixed. Some had mentioned that it was a singularly spectacular meal, surpassing their experiences at other Danish restaurants, while other reviewers thought the flavors were way out there (too acidic was the general consensus of these reviewers). Given the Jekyll and Hyde nature of the reviews, I was excited about the meal, but I did approach it with apprehension.

From the first bite though, we were blown away. Every single bite you see below was delicious and was a highlight, so I won’t belabor that point below.

Place settings.

The Menu for the night

Some bubbles and local cider to start the evening

Kefir, oxidized pear and fig leaf - this was a nice little amuse bouche with what I recall to be fig oil; the fragrance of the fig leaf went really well with fig oil

Straight into kohlrabi, blackcurrant and Nobilis fir - this tasted as great as it looked; yes there was tartness from the currants, but it was an acidity that provided a nice balance to some slight sweetness, along with the crunchy texture of the kohlrabi underneath

Target of green asparagus, kale and egg yolk - Some slight herbalness from the kale accented a deceivingly rich tart

Mahogany clam, white currant and cherry blossoms - the slight acidity of gooseberry juice and floralness of the latter ingredients served to highlight the cleaner flavors and chewy texture of the mahogany clam

Brill and cider apples Slightly sweet and spicy

Oyster, green strawberry, and blackcurrant leaf Another example where acidity was put to good use to help complement the brininess in the shell fish (I can’t recall the type of oyster)

Gratuitous shot of our wine

Salmon, tomato, and fig leaves - They scoop the cold and hot-smoked salmon out and mix it with the tomatoes and fig leaves (and oil); the smoky salmon went well with the refreshing flavors of the other ingredients. Funny thing is they left the salmon sitting there for display for a few minutes. My SO asked - “Wait, do we get to eat that entire thing??” Alas, no - with uncanny timing, they came back and picked up the piece at that very moment.

Squid, lardo, and mushrooms with dipping sauce It was squid - it looks a bit like a piece of yakitori - perhaps a piece of chicken skin, and equally as decadent

Yeated barley, Havgus cheese, and beef fat +crab - you scoop it up and eat it like a taco or a pita :drooling_face:

Browned cabbage and caviar

Nexo Nigiri, ryebread and pickles - this is a Danish (Bornholmish[?]) version of a piece of nigiri sushi; raw mackerel with some pickled fruits on rye - this was delicious and something different, but I think it’s hard to top sushi rice :wink:

Scallop, horseradish, and hemp + sundried tomatoes - the sweet+saline flavor and chewy texture of the scallop served as a nice base for the richness of the tomatoes and floralness of the other ingredients

Horse mussel, beetroot, and spruce shoots - The smoke mussel anchored a dish where texture was the name of the game - the chewy berries and beetroot created this ingredible mouthfeel upon consumption

Pork, fermented pumpkin, and leeks - This dish was not as unique as the rest but was very well executed; the pork was really moist and had a slight (but not overbearing) “porkiness”

Dessert time! Creme fraiche, berries, and walnut schnapps The berries were just the right amount of chewy, sweet, and tart, and really went well with the fragrant creme fraiche; the walnut schnapps was subtle was imparted a bit of nuttiness

Beetroot, quince, and mulberries - These didn’t taste quite like the mulberries we get here; they were, you guessed it, slightly tart, but they went well with the chewy and sweet quince and beetroot

Bunch of petit fours at the end