Food mesmerizes me, because I see in its creativity the parallel of poetry and music. There are more or less a given number of key ingredients to work with, but an infinite number of ways to combine them. When it works out, it’s magic, no less worthy than a grand masterpiece by Bach or a moving piece of literature.
Good tasting food is at once easy and difficult to achieve. In today’s world, beautiful plating, tasteful décor, an expensive price tag and raving reviews often condition us into thinking that a meal was better than it was, and while aesthetics (yes, we are all beauty lusting creatures) and hospitality (and respect craving creatures) matter to a great extent, I think the latter two (pricing and reviews) are overrated. Many a kitchen today work toward their Michelin star with a checklist of items to tick in a mechanical way, and the marketing that happens afterwards is every bit as imperative, eclipsing the effort put into creating a soul for their dishes. And if the procuring of a star (or several) was merely by talent and a bit of luck, the money that flows in later will likely corrupt the whole affair. It would be fair to say, at least from my own experiences, that walking out of a Michelin endorsed establishment feeling completely excited and inspired is quite the anomaly rather than the norm today.
In any case, the Pescatarian only made it to the Michelin Guide. It doesn’t have stars. But my one experience there certainly dazzled. I have been on a long streak of somewhat tedious fine dining meals, all more or less using the same bag of tricks that, to be sure, are pleasant, but nothing yet that really makes me want to go back again.
So, there. I can’t say how the magic happened, but it did on this beautiful evening on the 11th of April, 2022. And the cost of a meal here is roughly one third that in Hong Kong. Here’s a rundown of my six-course. Videos of the dishes, which are definitely more revealing, are available on my Instagram.
Ceviche of hamachi, cod and oysters with green apples, horseradish & chickweed
Due to personal reasons it is better for me to stay clear of raw food for the moment, so my hamachi was cooked. I am sure that was not ideal, but in the end I still enjoyed the very fresh hamachi and its refreshing complements.
Potatoes, smoked mackerel, pickled leek & mushrooms
This is a very hearty dish. It looks like a soup, but the top layer is in fact an emulsion derived mainly from potatoes covering a delightfully savorous, warm smoked mackerel and crispy potatoes underneath. The aroma that comes from burnt potatoes peel, the smokey fish, the pickled leek and mushroom and the mild garlicky taste from ramson oil is unparalleled, not to mention the crunchy texture from crispy potatoes. I cringed at the mere number of ingredients put into the dish, but any concern dissipated as quickly as I took in my first spoon.
Squid, onions, mussels & seaweed
The squid was cooked to a perfect timing with maximum tenderness and sweetness, augmented by a mild sauce of onions and mussels and given some character with briny seaweed.
Jerusalem artichokes, black currants, black truffle, fermented garlic & nasturtium
Another stunner. The usual me will stay away from anything deep-fried for more than two bites, but I finished all of these and wanted more. They were flavor bombs, with an evolving aftertaste after every bite. The crispy artichokes were covered in a leather made of black currant and topped with fermented garlic cream, fermented broken raspberry gelée, black truffle and nasturtium. Again, a long list of things that seemed capable only of overcomplicating, but didn’t.
Witch flounder, langoustine, salsify, malt & bisque
While being primarily a fish dish, this was one of the most unusual and thoughtful renditions I have seen of any fish cooked or not cooked on a menu. The actual flesh of the fish doesn’t really play center stage here. The flounder is more of a piano accompaniment to the violins of langoustine soufflé, the wind of lobster bisque with aquavit, and the brass of sourdough crouton. The balance of aroma, flavors and texture was perfect. Then, on the right, you have rehydrated salsify with crumble, crispy malt stems and fermented mustard seeds. The salsify tasted at once a seafood and a plant, blending in with the bisque and the crispy malt stems. Everything came together beautifully.
Cheesecake, carrots, sea buckthorn & woodruff
The most interesting aspect of this dish is the incorporation of pickled carrots into a sweet dessert. I thought it was a very successful move. The cheesecake took a texture akin to a milk pudding with white chocolate notes and was not heavy at all. The woodruff with its flavors of cardamom and cinnamon was the cherry on the top. A good end to an unforgettable meal.
Amaliegade 49, Copenhagen, 1256 K, Denmark
17:00 – 01:00
+45 30 63 83 22 | www.thepescatarian.dk