Copenhagen has developed an international reputation for its cuisine and restaurant culture. At the heart of this is Noma, a two Michelin star restaurant from Rene Redzepi that was voted the Worlds Best Restaurant for consecutive years.
The advantage of having a restaurant like Noma in your city is that it becomes a training ground for chefs and soon, predictably, ex-Noma staff began opening restaurants in Copenhagen and beyond.
Relae is a prime example, a restaurant founded by Christian Puglisi, a Noma alum, recently awarded a Michelin star and ranked #56 on the same Worlds Best Restaurant list. We booked a table here before we had even made hotel or flight reservations. Restaurants always take priority.
We arrived at Relae, located across the street from our previous nights dinner and their sister restaurant, Manfreds. Relae is also small with a very simple, clean design. The neatest trick was the drawer that pulled out from the custom made tables in front of each dinner, containing multiple sets of silverware, napkin and menu.
Smart Danish design.
Relae just offers two tasting menus, one called omnivore and the other called herbivore (veggie only if you did not pick up on that), each with four courses priced at £39 per person and another £39 per person for wine pairings. We went all in, ordering one of each tasting menus with wine pairings as well as adding the “crispy snack”, a meaty tempura fried sunchoke dusted with dried seaweed powder for another £4 per person.
Similar to Manfreds, service was a team effort, with chefs running food and describing each course. This was a tighter ship though and service was much more precise, more akin to its Michelin star reputation. The wine service was nice as well and the staff was very welcoming and set a good vibe for the night.
Golden Beets and Lumpfish Roe
The beets were showered with shaved egg yolks and stacked with salted plums, which brought a surprising salinity to the simple, pleasing dish. The simplicity continued with the lumpfish roe, spread over the plate with daikon radish and bergamotte, a type of citrus. The roe was surprising light and refreshing, not making the dish overly briny.
Mushrooms, Barley, Ramps
We both had the same second course, the hit of the night. Thinly sliced mushrooms on top of barley and sunflower seeds in a vibrant green ramp broth. The garlicky punch of ramps never gets old and its flavour permeated the broth and worked perfectly with the grain and mushrooms. Ridiculous.
Chicken with Celery Root
Our main courses were winners as well. The chicken was poached in butter and served with celery root. Similar to the previous night at Manfreds, the chicken was served slightly pink, which could have been off putting if it was not for the unbelievably luxurious texture.
Carrots with Hollandaise
The carrot main course were charred, stacked shavings of purple carrots with aerated hollandaise and oxalis, a member of the sorrel family that is quite acidic. The carrots were brilliant and when I saw that the hollandaise was aerated I was relieved since it would have been the largest serving of hollandaise ever. The oxalis helped off set the richness of the sauce and the whole dish was well orchestrated.
Ice Cream with Citrus
A smear of smooth, not overly sweet ice cream was topped with dried and frozen citrus, including cranberries and tangerines. We both thought that the ice cream needed more sweetness, but that was were a smart wine pairing came in and saved the day. The Vittorio Bera Mosacato d’Asti was amazing and the best moscato I have had by miles. Slightly sparkling, a bite of the ice cream and then a sip of the wine, and the acid of the citrus was matched by the wine and the residual sugar in the Moscato meant that sweetness lingered on your palate. If the ice cream itself was any sweeter, the Bera would have seemed cloying. Smart.
Like Manfreds, Relae only offers natural wines, which we both found to be fun and different. The pairings were spot on and each wine was quite distinctive. The Bera was the star of the night, but there were no duds.