AOC, Aarø & co Restaurant
Sorrel Wrap with Sea Lettuce, Rhubarb and White Cabbage
Baby Cucumber – 20 days with its Flower and 2 months with Buttermilk Whey and Thyme Salt
Reindeer Moss with Chicken Liver and Cepes, Potato with Leek Puree and Parsley Powder
Purple and Green Asparagus with Brown Butter and Roe from Swedish Cod
Pancake with Beef Tartare, Garlic Flower, Smoked Beet Powder, Water Cress, Horseradish Cream, Gooseberry and Woodruff Chutney
White Asparagus with Torched Mornay
German Turnip with Danish Oysters
Sea Scallop with Fermented Asparagus, Daikon and Dill Oil and Mussel Infused Steam Bun
Sourdough Bread with Spelt and Dark Beer, Cow’s Milk Butter and Butter Infused with Icelandic Kelp
Onion with Caviar and Elderflower
Grilled King Crab with Turbot Roe and Lemon-Thyme Emulsion, smoking Bouquet of Pine, Juniper and Thyme
King Crab Dumpling – Lardo, Kombu
New Danish Potatoes, Wild Mushrooms and Kornly Cheese with bundle of Herbs
Romaine Salad with Ramps and Capers, Sauce of Spinach and Lamb’s Tongue
Roe Deer with Spinach and Ramson Butter
Aged Danbo Cheese with Honey, Goat-Cow’s Milk Cream Cheese, Beet Root with Viking Blue, Swedish Cheese Cracker and Fried Spelt Bread
Juniper Berries, Gooseberries and Black Currant Branches
Burnt Jerusalem Artichoke with Caramel and Hazelnut
“Nordic Vanilla” – Salsify
Aronia Berries and Yogurt, Beech Nut and Cocoa, Caramelized Bread and Cinnamon
Awarded two-stars by Michelin, but largely under-discussed by most culinary tourists visiting Copenhagen, AOC was chosen for dinner on Saturday largely to determine how it’s “rating” correlates with the rest of the city’s best, a sort of calibration to what the Red Guide is looking at in a city whose top-ranking cuisine is fairly new in terms of culinary history.
Located in an old Wine cellar on Dronningens Tværgade, the vaulted ceilings and low lighting creating a dramatically different look from the natural woods and earthen objects of other ‘New Nordic’ restaurants in Denmark, AOC is toqued by Chef Søren Selin who has run Christian Aarø’s kitchen since 2013, his menu offered as a 1,700DKK tasting or ‘a little less’ for 1,400, the longer experience totaling anywhere from 20-25 individual plates depending on the evening.
Far more formal than Kadeau, the Chefs here remaining in the kitchen and leaving not only the course descriptions but several tableside preparations to a team of young Women and Men who carefully balance showing some personality with professionalism, it was with seating offered at a table large enough for four that the meal quickly got started, a flurry of seven bites served sequentially highlighted by a crispy cigar of Sorrel wrapped around warm Rhubarb plus Cabbage and a deep fried nest of Reindeer Moss filled with a creamy puree of Chicken Liver and foraged Mushrooms.
Additionally enjoying two Vegetable duos, the differences in flavor far more notable side-by-side than one would be able to appreciate in isolation, the following course was a DIY-Crepe that was essentially a fun way to serve Beef Tartare while the follow-up of White Asparagus with torched Mornay was impressive in its simplicity, the clean snap of the barely heated stalk contrasting against the charcoal bittered but creamy coating.
Covering Snacks in about twenty minutes, the expediting here not quite that of Kadeau or Geranium but far better than most of Copenhagen’s kitchens where courses come at varying intervals with no discernible pattern, the proper menu began with a sizable green Turnip hulled out filled with a chilly potage of trimmed Oysters and herbal Granite that balanced iodine with bitterness amidst thick Cream, the follow-up of seared Sea Scallop and Daikon ‘Mille Feuille’ playing off a similar idea but bringing it up a few notches by way of pickled Asparagus, a welcome addition found in the fluffy Blue Mussel Bread at its side to soak up any remaining liquid.
Sending out Bread next, a sizable loaf of Spelt Sourdough that replaced the water component with a regional Beer that baked off slightly sweet and paired very nicely with two styles of Butter including one infused with Kelp, the following course was described as a restaurant signature and prepared tableside, the Salt-baked Onion cleaned and added to a base of sweet Onion Custard before being topped with a big spoonful of Golden Caviar, the combination expectedly intense with a long linger that likely would have been even better with the Juice or Wine pairing to help intermittently refresh the palate.
Seafood and Vegetable-centric like most of Copenhagen’s top tables, plates eleven and twelve presented Norwegian Crab in two distinctly different styles, the first a too-hot-to-touch grilled Leg served next to a burning bouquet with a saline Dipping Sauce while the second placed Shoulder Meat in the context of a Dumpling, the ‘skin’ made of Lardo and the broth an aromatic yet lightly flavored Kombu.
Getting heavier as the plates progressed, charred New Potatoes and Mushrooms in Cheese Foam a rich lead-in to grilled Greens served next to an emulsion of Lambs Tongue and Spinach Cream, the staff seemed particularly proud to present the meal’s final savory, the short hunting season for Roe Deer yielding an exceedingly lean piece of the Loin that was served rare under a slick of Spinach and Ramson Butter.
Putting together a fairly large collection of Cheeses, but only offering a Chef’s selection each day, Saturday night saw the kitchen send out 40-month Danbo that was sliced tableside and offered with Crackers, Honey and two additional composed selections, the folded Beet Root with Viking Blue particularly memorable, even if only for one bite.
Making a production of pre-Dessert, the Branches and Berries clipped and crushed with mortar and pestle before joining an intensely herbal Sorbet, it was actually the follow-up of Sunchoke ‘glass’ atop Caramel and Hazelnut Ice Cream that proved to be one of the best courses of the night, the earthiness just enough to balance the Sugar while the following bites of Salsify made to look and taste like Vanilla plus three Mignardises were all pleasant enough and a fitting continuation of the flavors most recent tasted.