Danish Epicurean Delight
A precisely served and beautiful culinary experience awaits you in one of Copenhagen’s most picturesque gardens at Mielcke & Hurtigkarl
Review by Rupert Watkins
Copenhagen is an elegant city. Amidst the bustle nestled in Frediericksberg Garden, part of the Danish Royal Horticultural Gardens, sits the immaculate and innovative Mielcke & Hurtigkarl (M&H) restaurant. Since opening in 2008 with Jakob Mielcke overseeing the kitchen, it has gained numerous plaudits for the contemporary Japanese inspired menus. Jakob’s partner Jan had won a Michelin star at Gastronomique (located in the same place) in the 1980s, working with his father, Roy Hurtigkarl.
Together, this pair have created something special. The building is one of the garden’s old orangeries. As such it is small – seating perhaps 18 covers – but high ceilinged, light and airy. Large ceiling high windows give a sense of space and the original doors, surrounds and pedestals give a feeling of restrained elegance. Inside, plants and original artwork give a subtly modern edge to the classic room. For those wishing to enjoy al fresco dining there are a number of tables outside.
The service is faultless lead by the urbane sommelier Jose Santos. Shown to our table, we opted to sample the seven course tasting menu, The Metamorphosis, with appropriate appetizers and wines to match. Our three appetizers where langoustines with citrus and edible flowers, a salad with a goat’s milk fume and a charcuterie plate of deer, roebuck (shot by Jakob) and pork. The langoustines were delightfully fresh whilst the lightness of the fume allowed a pungent goats cheese to sit well with a simple salad. The charcuterie was smoked and nicely gamey.
To accompany the dishes – and our first course – Jose had selected a Huré Frères Invitation Brut Champagne. From a biodynamic winemaker and with more Pinot Meunier than some vineyards, it was crisply dry with a lingering aftertaste. Moving to the first of the actual courses, we had an oyster, cress and lovage foam salad. Again light, the flavours of the dish were enhanced with an assured blend of herbs.
Moving on, chilled squid, noodles with seaweed and ginger was brought to us. Whilst not this reviewer’s favourite, the squid was nicely done, the ginger adding a lovely bite to the dish enhancing the noodles but without overpowering the seaweed. Nonetheless, I felt some of the flavour was diluted by being chilled. For wine, Jose gave us a 2015 Westhofener Morstein dry Riesling. Harvested from old vines, this white had a breadth and boldness of flavour to sit wonderfully against the squid and subsequent fish course.
This fish course proved to be flounder with apple and salad with a parsley sauce. As with all seafood we had at M&H, the freshness and nuttiness of the fish leapt off the plate, the apple providing a nice, soft, fruity counterpoint to the fish. However, possibly with the ginger from the previous course still on my palette, despite being wonderfully creamy I felt it lacked the faintest something being ever so slightly bland – though I was the only one at the table to believe that.
Now heading into heart of the tasting menu, ravioli stuffed with ndjula and with red peppers was placed before us. A beautiful dish, the ravioli was so fresh as to be fluffy and light with the rich meaty flavours and slight tang from the peppers making for a memorable dish. Jose kept us on white at this point pouring a 2009 Saint Aubin Premier Cru “Les Champlots.” Similarly broad on the palette to the old vine Riesling, this had sufficient body to sit alongside the tangy peppers and sausage. The next dish was possibly the most unusual; dried chipped artichokes and anchovies. Very light and slightly crunchy, this showed the kitchen’s inventiveness’ and skill as the faint taste of the artichoke was never overwhelmed by the more pungent fish and indeed, the flavours combined harmoniously together.
At this point, Jose moved us to red to accompany our final non desert course. A delicious 2011 Albino Rocca Barbaresco was poured. With chocolate hints on the nose and very full blackberry notes on the palette this was a lovely smooth and rich accompaniment for pigeon with rhubarb and truffle sauce. A magnificent dish, the pigeon oozed gamey flavour – further bought out by the earthiness of the sauce. In an evening of marvellous dishes, this might have pipped top spot (but then this reviewer’s a game nut).
We finished with a palette cleanser course and desert. The passion fruit sorbet with coconut and tapioca was a little confusing. The heat of the tapioca seemed to undermine the sorbet so whilst oddly tasty it was not the palette cleansing sharpness perhaps I would have wanted. The celeriac and birch tree ice cream with marzipan and chervil proved a delicious and unusual end to the meal – slightly savoury in flavour, the rather nutty flavour of the celeriac sat nicely with the marzipan and aniseed taste of the chervil. We drank a Nyetimber Demi-Sec with it, the sweetness but lightness of the bubbles the correct paring for an ice cream. Excellent coffee and petit fours completed a special evening.
Mielcke & Hurtigkarl is without doubt an establishment anyone serious about fine food will have to visit when in Copenhagen. Yes, like any restaurant of this quality and level it is pricey – our Metamorphosis tasting menu was £135 per person – but it is the type of culinary experience that lifts a normal weekend break or holiday into a truly memorable experience. Certainly chatting with the manager of the hotel where we were staying, it remains a puzzle to natives why the establishment has not picked up its first Michelin star yet. For service and inventive food in charming surroundings, this restaurant should certainly be in line for that accolade.
Open for dinner only.