Copenhagen is trying to present itself as the food capital of Scandinavia, and the Michelin guide is a central part of this picture. But when it comes to one of the most reviewed restaurants in the city, with a star in the Michelin guide, both the food and the service turned out to be a negative surprise.
Text and photo by Olof Lundborg
In the multicultural and partly troubled neighborhood of Norrebro, in the northern part of Copenhagen, a relaxed but extremely stylish environment flourishes around Jaegersbrogade.
In the center of Jaegersbrogade, both actually and literally, is Relae restaurant, opened in 2010 and already rewarded with a Michelin star. I went to visit this place with my friend and wine expert Susanna. Our expectations for the visit were high, considering the fact that the cuisine has an explicit experimental view on food material. Also the connections to the well-reputed Noma restaurant via le chef de cuisine triggered the expectations.
It started out well. We ordered the four course menu with selected wines (the only option). As an appetizer we were served a small bunch of fresh Scandinavian herbs. No oil, no salt. Unusual, but very tasty. The starter was a success – steamed hake with old (!) leeks. The wine however, a French natural wine, which means no added sugar during fermentation, was a smaller disappointment. As it was a natural wine it tasted a bit of yeast and it looked a little muddy. Interesting, but just for a few sips.
Before the next course the waiter informed us that all the wines were natural wines, something that we both found extreme in a negative point of view, especially since there were no other options. Now the food also lost in grades. A considerable pile of more or less raw green asparagus, cut in small pieces, with a taste of mint followed the hake. It would have suited a cows four stomachs, but for a human being it was too raw and too harsh. And the second glass of natural wine didn´t improve the situation.
The worst was yet to come. Chicken wings, white asparagus and anchovies, according to the menu. Sounded lovely. What the menu didn´t inform us about was the fact that the whole dish was sprinkled with raw chicken liver and pieces of kidneys. This was definitely not okay. At least the guests should be informed if one of the main ingredients is raw guts. And the third glass of natural wine… no further comments.
The elderflower and rhubarb dessert was tasty, but nothing special. The overall impression of this young Michelin stared restaurant turned out as a negative surprise. It felt like the cuisine was extreme for the extremes own sake. And the service certainly didn´t live up to Michelin standards, in our opinion. The different waiters had a very arrogant and self-sufficient attitude, something that does not belong in a pricier restaurant.