Trying out the World’s 50 best: Relae in Copenhagen

This restaurant left me confused. I’m really not sure what to think. Yes it’s number 39 on the list, but did I have an amazing meal? Hard to say. There were some great dishes and some not so great dishes so it was a wash. I think the issue is 1. Expectations and 2. The pricetag. When they tell you it’s the 32 in the world you come in expecting some amazing food. When you pay 200 dollars for a meal you expect extraordinary food and great service. I think I received neither. Don’t get me wrong the food as seen below was good it just wasn’t blow your mind excellent. I might venture to say I had better food at the other Copenhagen restaurants I went to. I also think it might have to do with the fact that Nordic cuisine might not be my thing. Its perfectly healthy and good for the diet, and beautiful ingredients, but it might be a bit to vinegary and fermented for my taste. (its making me feel better that I failed in securing a Noma reservation)  As for the service, it’s weird. I kind of like the whole you have a drawer of cutlery and you serve your own wine concept it’s cool. But having absolutely no front of house staff (the chefs are the front of house) leaves you a bit neglected. It took me 20 minutes to get the attention for someone to bring me my check. Much better service at Manfreds, their sister restaurant a cross the street (and for half the price!).

I had the 8 course meal, here is the food:

CELERIAC AND SESAME: super tasty first bite and loved the champagne they brought me for it.

OYSTER, RED ONION & ROSE : I was sitting in the kitchen bar so I saw the preparation of this one so many times, it was beautiful. Simple and delicious and pretty on the plate. Towards the acidic side, but still quite balanced.

Special Dish: this wast in my menu or part of the 8 courses so a great little surprise dish. Mussels poached in juniper with a brown butter sauce. I think it was one of the most well balanced dishes I received (and i think it had to do with the sweetness of the butter)

COD & RAMSON – Salted cod with a green jus, tasty but simple. I liked the side dishes more, the grilled cod and the grilled brocoli wrap. 

SQUID AND ENOKI – Conceptually and physically this was a beautiful dish. A contrast in monocromatic plating, the enoki with the squid underneath was just beautiful. However the dish itself wasn’t as flavorful as i wanted it to be and a bit vinegary. The broth, a dashi style one, was super delicious.

SALSIFY AND PARMESAN – my second favorite dish of the nice. When they can make vegetables taste this good all is well in the world (although if one puts parmesan on anything it tastes good!)

CARROT & THYME – Extremely simple but probably my favorite dish of the day. I would eat this constantly – thus is what I think of of simple yet ingredient focused cooking – the broth was ridiculously tasty and how they make sheets of carrot look this pretty i don’t even know. 

DUCK FROM GOTHENBORG & ENDIVE – The duck was my least favorite dish. It was just too vinegar. It lacked balance. There was too little strawberry compote on the bottom that could have given the contrasting texture and flavor. The issue is the duck sauce was very vinegar and the endive salad was also dressed in vinegar – there was no complement, only jarring astringent in my mouth

ALMOND AND HONEY – a goat cheese style made with almond milk, tasty but not mindblowing

I don’t know the exact descriptions of my desserts since they were off menu gluten free options but from what i can remember the first was a lemon and chocolate mouse and the second one it was a citrus custard with citrus fruit.  They were both nice and served their purposes but a bit too acidic the last one, even though I really appreciated the freshness and lightness of it, and love that i get personalized desserts!

the drawer:

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