Taking a day trip to Copenhagen purely to lunch at NOMA isn’t completely as frivolous as it sounds. In April, I met up with 3 friends from Boston for a unique experience of a 20 course lunch at what has consistently been deemed as the World’s Best Restaurant (most recently in 2014). Coincidentally, all 4 of us were at the end (or beginning, depending on your outlook) of a personal journey.
The next day I was to hand in my notice at work, essentially ending my 8 year career in asset management marketing. Filled with excitement and a healthy mix of fear, I’ve decided to pursue photography full time. So it was on this one spring day in Copenhagen, I was to have my last pay day lunch, and it was going to be epic.
We arrived to a welcoming party. It seemed as if the both the front & back of house staff were all present to extend a warm Scandinavian greeting. Within minutes we were seated at our table and just as swiftly the bubbly we ordered appeared, gently fizzing in the flute as we scanned our surroundings. There was a genteel buzz in the dining room, the diners’ spirits aglow mirroring the color of our champagne.
Over the next 4 hours, beautifully plated dishes arrived one at a time, presented as if they were gifts from the kitchen. At times, the visual stimulation of the dish outweighed the pleasure of taste. Too pretty to eat was often uttered. That day I was hankering for meat so the beef tartar and ants particularly stood out for me. Tender raw beef mixed with tangy ants that provided a bit of crunch were all great elements in a bite. The Nordic coconut comforted with its aromatic broth and surprising warmth. Voted the most eye catching piece was the apple & kelp arranged on porcelain ice chips, a dish befitting snow white.
We were still in a gastronomic daze as we finished the last sips of our pour over coffee when NOMA’s managing director, Peter Kreiner, stopped by for a quick hello. Before I knew it, we were standing in the main kitchen to start our private tour.
We roamed upstairs to find two rows of chefs dutifully cleaning kelp in one of the test kitchens. Another room over was an open layout staff kitchen filled with finds from the sea and books in their library. If I paid attention to what our guide was saying I’d be able to tell you the nature of the plants under the purple glow but I could take in no more; I was visually spent.
I regret not spending more time in Copenhagen. The city is so much more than its famous restaurant and I would have loved to relax a bit more at the Torvehallerne food market, take a stroll down the canal at a more leisurely place and sit out in one of the Nyhavn cafes to watch the passers-by. But there will be a next time, I promised myself, as I made my way to catch a sunset flight back to London.
For a quick read about my previous payday lunch at Sushi Samba, click here.