Sunday, March 20, 2016

the comfort zone


every restaurant in copenhagen that a noma alumnus starts has to make a point of not being another noma. sometimes, the tactics for doing this are broad stroke elements of presentation that are obvious and easily communicated in a photograph. at studio, the difference is subtle. torsten vildgaard's food does not push the eater beyond his comfort zone; there are no obviously exotically wild foods, no foods you obviously haven't eaten before. these days, restaurants showing such restraint are increasingly rare.

even during a short lunch, the kitchen brought me to areas of my comfort zone i'd not visited before. a slice of half-frozen pineapple, a snack casually sent out before the mains, mildly aromatic with some bright but unidentifiable flavour; this flavour (yuzu) made a simple piece of pineapple arresting, outstanding. and the kitchen showed me areas of my comfort zone that were, unknown to me, adjacent to each other. poached salt cod in a briny butter emulsion was concealed by cloud of raw shaved broccoli; its delicate crunch and subtle sulphur note filled this usually staidly rich dish with the feeling of spring. even the bread service was remarkable for its unassuming attention to detail and thorough perfection, the quickly fermented, gently lactic bread made from wheat milled on site (and a trace of barley from a 50kg bag gifted to the restaurant) and accompanied by a dish of freshly made, properly salted whey butter. it was a pyrotechnic-free lunch, and one of the best meals i've had in a long time.

for me, apart from the food, there was the added pleasure of seeing an old friend happy in his own kitchen. a chef with a clear point of view is rare, and one such who has created a kitchen, a restaurant, and a team which feels right is an even rarer satisfaction. for reasons unknown, the international press continues to fail to review studio—don't let this deter you from visiting.
havnegade 44
1058 københavn K, denmark
part of my incomplete list of nearly perfect meals.

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