Fine dining and I usually do not see eye to eye with each other. But there is a first to everything, right? When my partner and I registered our marriage in Copenhagen, Denmark, the so-called food capital of the world (at least in the context of fine dining), we decided to jump onto the bandwagon of the Michelin-star restaurants to find out for ourselves: what is the hype all about?
We decided to have our post-wedding celebration at a one-Michelin-star restaurant, called “Alouette” https://www.restaurantalouette.dk/
Alouette is set at a former stationery factory. From the graffiti-filled, dilapidated exterior appearance of the building, one would not have guessed that it houses a Michelin-star restaurant.
We were greeted by an enthusiastic and friendly staff who escorted us into the building. We walked through narrow, dimly-lit, graffiti-vandalized corridor before we arrived before a service elevator. The kind of elevator where it creaks loudly as the door closes and moves upwards, many scenarios played out in my mind and for a second I imagined myself entering a gangsters lair!
Seconds later, the elevator door opened and we were escorted to another entrance. Once the door was opened, it was a whole new world inside! By maintaining the original façade of the building, I guess the restaurant owners wanted the guests to experience the history behind the building and also the juxtaposition between the run-down exterior and polished interior certainly contributes to the wow factor.
The staff were really warm and friendly, while walking us through the options that we have with the courses and drinks. The exact menu of each course was not revealed until when it was served. One could opt for full wine-pairing or pairing with non-alcoholic drinks, or 50-50.
First order of the business – 3-course snacks (not appetizers)
Smoked beet root – Surprisingly complex, chewy and almost-meaty texture. Smoky, sweet and slightly savoury.
Savoury pancake marinated with miso, sous-vide duck, topped with fermented quince. The pancake gives off a slight charred, smoky flavor and sweet-savoriness from the miso. The duck had a buttery texture, an almost-melt-in-your-mouth mouthfeel.
Tart with summer flowers, topped with shredded lamb. To be honest, it did not taste like much to me…
They also served as some complimentary French brioche made from homemade fermented butter. The butter is made from pork lard and local apple juice. The sweetness and tartness of the butter go extremely well with the warm and soft brioche.
Up next, the appetizers!
The dish is composed of several elements. Here we have the main star of the dish, which is the razor clams. Then, it has blackcurrant leaves and pickled, unripe blackcurrants; topped with fig leaf vinaigrette and served with a sauce made from Jerusalem artichokes and blue mussel stock. The end result? Incredibly creamy and umami from all the seafood. The tanginess and tartness from the blackcurrants and vinaigrette cuts through the constant creaminess, giving it a refreshing twist.
The celeriac was harvested after the first frost, which gave it the maximum flavors. The celeriac is topped with black caviar and served with a sauce made from celeriac stock, lemongrass and butter. I thought the addition of lemongrass to the dish was ingenious as it is not as spicy as ginger. The lemongrass gives the dish a slight citrusy flavor, which is a refreshing twist to the flavor profiles and in juxtaposition to the savory caviar and sweet celeriac.
Another rather complex dish with multiple layers. The base is your ordinary chawanmushi, or Japanese egg custard. Then, you have bits of crispy chicken skin, a gelatinous layer of compressed chicken fat, sprinkled with garlicky capers (I’m not sure), served in reduced chicken gravy and topped with smoked hay cheese foam.
The dish sounds fancy and complicated, but the flavors did not deliver, in my opinion. The chicken gravy and/or the chicken fat was simply too salty. I could not really taste the chawanmushi. This leaves me thinking what is the main element of this dish? The chawanmushi? The chicken gravy? Or the compressed chicken fat?
I think the other ingredients totally overpower the subtle taste of the chawanmushi. In the end, I only tasted the extremely salty chicken gravy, crispy bits of the chicken skin and cheesy foam, which turns into more of a chicken soup dish.
Finally, a main dish! (I was actually quite full already at this point! Whoever said fine dining does not fill you up is not telling the truth! xD)
The lamb was marinated in red miso for 8 hours before being slowly roasted over open fire, after which it was repeatedly roasted and basted with some garlic sauce.
The sauce is actually consisted of two different sauces. A tangy sauce made from black walnut leaves, and a sauce made out of reduced stock of smoked lamb bones with garlic, lemon thyme and shallots. The dish is then topped with smoked bone marrow and drizzled with a dash of leek oil.
This is the best dish so far. The lamb is so soft and tender. The addition of the smoked bone marrow enhances the buttery texture of the dish. You might think with the meat and fattiness, the dish must be really cloying after a few bites. Surprisingly, this is not the case. The sauce has the right balanced amount of sweetness, smokiness, savoriness and umaminess.
This must be the prettiest dessert I have ever had so far! The centre is a cottage cheese foam served on plum sauce, surrounded by an array of jagged-edged “flower petals” made from reduced milk chips. Finally, it is served with preserved rose oil and poppy seed tahini sauce. Visually and aesthetically stunning. The creaminess and airiness of the cheese foam go well with the tanginess of the plum sauce. The poppy seed tahini gives a slight nutty flavor to it.
Wait, there are even more desserts! Omg, my stomach is bursting at this point!
Canelé with bee pollen and chocolate truffles. Canelé was crunchy on the outside, soft and moist and creamy on the inside. Really delicious.
There is even poetry involved!
It was obvious that their strong suit lies in the sauces – extremely flavorful, complex and savory. Despite being a Michelin-star restaurant, the atmosphere at the restaurant was surprisingly casual and relaxed. The staff were really friendly and humorous, which made us feel at ease. Overall, the dining experience at Alouette was certainly an unforgettable one.