With the rise of New Nordic Cuisine, Copenhagen has become a foodie destination of world renown. The Danish capital can thank, at least in part, pioneer chef René Redzepi for his bold culinary moves at Noma, the 2-starred Michelin restaurant named the “Best Restaurant in the World” several times over. Although Noma is closing its doors at the end of 2016 to relocate to Mexico, Copenhagen is still rife with Noma alumni who continue to push the boundaries in modern culinary art.
One such person is Christian Puglisi, the former sous chef at Noma. In 2010, Puglisi launched the beginnings of his own gastronomical empire when he opened Relæ. Shortly thereafter, Manfreds was created to sync up with its critically-acclaimed sister. Four years later, Baest and Mirabelle arrived on the scene to complete Puglisi’s restaurant family – for now.
My first trip to Copenhagen was defined by the work of Christian Puglisi and his team. In a span of three days, I dined at all four of his establishments, each of which brought something special to the table.
Undoubtedly, Relæ is Puglisi’s shining star – literally. Relæ has earned a Michelin star for its unwavering commitment to the finest quality of ingredients and conceptual harmony, and it remains in the Top 50 World’s Best Restaurants. With a visually minimalistic interior, the distractions are stripped away from the guest experience in order to highlight the organic products prepared with straightforward, yet innovative, zest.
Diners at Relæ choose between the four course or seven course menus, which are crafted according to the season. Of course, my travel companions and I opted for a seven course lunch. However, we skipped the accompanying wine pairing menu and selected a bottle to share instead. You know, just to be reasonable.
What transpired on our sleek wooden table was a powerful presentation of edible nature:
A crunchy cucumber with pistachio shavings – cool and crisp
Fresh and fermented strawberries with a leaf taco – unique and delicate
Sea trout with sorrel, onions and gooseberries – fresh and tangy
Zucchini in a white almond cream with basil leaf accents – mild and pure
Slow roasted new carrots with hollandaise sauce and cured egg yolk – delicious and satisfying
Lamb with beet root and seaweed + Braised lamb with fava beans & white currant – savory and complex
Cow cheese three ways – light and wonderful
Yogurt sorbet with lemon curd and chervil – surprising and delightful
Black coffee from The Coffee Collective – necessary and welcomed
For those who are wondering… chervil is an herb in the parsley family with a light licorice flavor. Relæ’s kitchen wizards turn the leafy green into a powder by freezing it with liquid nitrogen before dusting it over a sweet little portion of sorbet. The use of chervil is just one example of the culinary magic happening at Relæ.
Simple. Exceptional. Smart.
Manfreds & Vin
Located directly across the street from the Michelin star, Manfreds welcomes patrons to settle into its relaxed and cozy atmosphere. However, in no way does this more casual sibling slack in quality. In fact, Manfreds and Relæ share the same resources from their local farms and organic gardens.
Manfreds claims to be “(probably) the world’s only veggie-focused restaurant famous for its raw meat.” A hilarious description, but totally accurate. The beef tartar truly is exquisite – (probably) the best I’ve ever had.
The rest of the Manfreds menu is a limited number of snacks and small plates, a lengthy wine list, and the Chef’s Choice selection of seven small plates to be shared family style at the table – another genius composition by Puglisi and his team. Again, my traveling troupe went for the seven surprise dishes with a side of tartar. (We just couldn’t help ourselves!)
Communal. Refreshing. Comfortable.
Taking off in 2014, Bæst pays homage to Christian Puglisi’s Sicilian heritage. [He spent his early childhood years on the Italian island before moving to Denmark.] With a tantalizing index of garnished pizzas, superior meats and homemade cheeses, the Bæst menu feels familiar, yet extraordinary. Its classic Italian dishes are marked by an infusion of Danish elements, such as the pizza dough made from local grains and the charcuterie hailing from only the choicest livestock. With such a nice range of wood-fired pizzas and tasty vittles, you really can’t go wrong when dining at Bæst. However, I have to say that the burrata is out-of-this-world good!
Sophisticated. Delectable. Convivial.
Last but certainly not least, Mirabelle is Puglisi’s darling bakery and all-around eatery. Mirabelle’s sourdough and rye breads are the pride and joy of the bakery and appear in every Puglisi restaurant. Yet this sweetheart does more than churn out praiseworthy baked goods. Mirabelle also invites patrons to take a seat for breakfast, lunch, or dinner or grab a bite to go. Is there anything this little cafe can’t do?
Bright. Delicious. Accessible.
Whew! Taking on all of Christian Puglisi’s dining establishments in just a few days was no easy, nor inexpensive, feat. Nonetheless, it was a sumptuous and satisfying way to experience Copenhagen. Thanks to Puglisi’s gastronomical inventions, I got a wonderful taste of Danish culture, and I wouldn’t mind going back soon for some burrata and beef tartar…
Hey Foodie Friends! Have you ever stalked a chef on one of your trips? Or tried New Nordic Cuisine? When you travel, do you seek out titled and award-winning restaurants? Which chef should I look into next?