Champagne Doyard Cuvee Vendemiaire
Frozen – Lemon Granita, Wood Ants, Elderflower
Cherry – Liquid and Candy
Tomato Chips and Chipotle – Edible Bag and Chili-Mayo
Ashtray – Smashed Potatoes, Glazed Onion, Roasted Bacon
Pea Pie – Mustard Seed, Lavender, Mint
Lemon Cocktail – Geranium Gin, Hay Oil
Razor Clam and Lemon – Italian Caviar, Rapeseed Oil
Oyster and Comte – 36 month, Lardo
Scallops and Miso – Foie Gras, Ginger, Truffles
King Crab and Elderflower – 5-year Katsubushi, Dashi
Lobster Salad and Brioche – Freeze-dried Coral ‘shell,’ Lemon Gel
Lime and Chili – Tequila, Oak
Nori Seaweed and Black Cod – Sour Cream, Soy and Caviar
Goldfish and Fish Feed – Dried and Salted Fish with Cornichons and Capers, Langoustine Flakes
Unagi Burger – Fresh Wasabi, Dehydrated Oysters
Turbot and BBQ – Edible Bones
Fish Fume and Parsley – Blue Mussels, Butter
Foie Gras and Corn – Spanish Organic Goose Liver, Mushrooms, Pearl Barley
Lamb Brain and Worms – Onion Paper and Ants
Lamb Heart and Blood – Mustard, Cognac, Cherries and an Organ Donors Card
Cow’s Udder – “Caesar Salad” with Anchovy, Crispy Chicken Skin and Capers
Roasted Nuts – Rooster Testicles, Lime, Peanuts
Laksa Soup – Mushrooms, Curry, Peanuts
Mini Bao – Pickles, Cashews, Pork Neck
Chicken Feet and Danoise – Mint, Cucumber
Hyogo Kobe and Ponzu – A5 Grade 10
Pigtail and Teriyaki – Yakatori Grill
Tom Yum and Wood Lice
Joselito 2006 Pork Sandwich and Beverly Hills 90210 – Brioche, Truffle Butter, Bufala Mozzarella
Brie de Meaux x3 – Frozen Sphere, Hot Liquid Center, Honey, Black Currant
Gamle Ole – Goat Cheesecake
Basajo Mikkel Friis Holm – Vanilla, Pop Rocks, Blue 61
Kakigori Kobenhavnerstang – Shave Ice, Passionfruit, Pineapple, Milk
Rhubarb and Cream
Vanilla and Olive
Caramel in three Versions
The Painting – Yuzu, Blood Orange, Lychee, Blueberry
Turtles – Chocolate, Rum, Caramel / Earthworms – Wine Gum, Sour
Mango Cornet – Lemon Ants / Donuts Mikkel Friis Holm
Buttermilk Pancake – Anti-Griddle Crepe, Peanuts, Orange, Grand Marnier
Located in Northern Østerbro, a fifteen seat counter said to be producing some of the most innovative food in the world at this time, Alchemist is as much a social commentary as it is a restaurant and on July 5th 2017 Chef Rasmus Munk went above and beyond to exceed expectations and serve his 45-course menu for just one guest when the online reservation system allowed a lone diner to book on the day before the Chef and his staff were to go on holiday.
Anything but a ‘typical’ restaurant, particularly in a part of the world where a singular vision based on The New Nordic Kitchen Manifesto has flooded the dining scene with locavore fanaticism and minimally manipulated ingredients from names like Redzepi and Puglisi, Alchemist looks to instead build a rapport with its guests by way of an immersive universe built around the music, décor and stories behind each dish, the 26 year old Chef challenging diners to explore ideas of what is edible and how dining relates to personal beliefs and memories.
Undoubtedly a well-traveled young man, his interest in cooking actually blossoming fairly late but already with trips to Japan and time at Michelin 3* Geranium and Bray’s Fat Duck helping to shape his skills, dinner at Alchemist is presented as a series of eight ‘acts’ with 5-6 items each, the squeamish quickly made aware of the Chef’s intentions by Lemon Granita topped in Wood Ants and Elderflower following a glass of Champagne, some modernist flourishes quick to follow with a one-bite liquid-centered Cherry and a Tomato on its stem with Chipotle Mayo Cream and an edible bag of Spices.
Presented in a manner that frequently seems intended to overwhelm, the time between plates easily calibrated to diners’ preferences when all but one seat sat empty as a brooding electric violin played on, it was in between conversation with a lone female server that plate after plate arrived, the “Ashtray” of Smashed Potatoes, Glazed Onions and Roasted Bacon a tribute to Munk’s Grandmother who died of lung cancer while freshly shucked Peas anchored a tiny Tart perfumed by Mustard Seed, Lavender, Mint.
Transitioning Acts by way of a Cocktail, those with a low Alcohol tolerance well advised to show restraint, it with pursed lips that a sour Gin-based Cocktail was sipped from inside a whole frozen Lemon, a perfect segue to Razor Clam Crudo with Citrus and Caviar that Munk warns guests *does not feature* an edible shell “since Chef Kofoed would kick my ass,” follow-ups of an Oyster in Comte Foam and a freshly shucked Scallop with Duck Liver and preserved Truffles both rich and luxurious, as was ‘dancing’ Katsubushi on King Crab and spreadable Lobster Salad inside a ‘shell’ made of freeze-dried Lobster Coral.
Telling some amusing stories about a trip to Mexico where little was remembered but the Tequila as she poured flavors of spice and sour from a Dia de los Muertos decanter, act three would feature more pescetarian choices starting with a Cone of Caviar atop raw Black Cod, the oft photographed “Life or Death” dish giving diners the choice to senselessly sacrifice a Goldfish or give it some feed as they enjoyed a briny bite, the Unagi Burger with Fresh Wasabi and dried Oysters an absolute umami-bomb preceding Barbeque Turbot with bones made edible.
Warned not to take the Fish Fume in “one gulp,” a creamy potage which explores variations in temperature far larger in portion than it appears, act four was promised to be a ‘challenge’ for many, Chef Munk explaining sustainable Foie Gras farming in Spain before asking guests to indulge gavage-style in Goose Liver Mousse with the ingredients typically used to fatten the fowl, a cleaned skull of Lamb next unveiling a surprise of Maggots and Ants as diners cracked through the Occipital Bone, the flavor mostly salty before things really got strange with a full frozen Heart unveiled from a Dry-Ice Organ Donors box, the chilly Tartare sprayed with ‘blood’ from an IV Bag as the server handed out an Organ Donation card to help increase awareness of Denmark’s ‘opt-in’ induced need.
Next taking on the idea of food waste by way of ‘cheese’ made from Cow’s Udder atop the flavors of a Caesar Salad, Rooster Testicles to follow with Lime and Peanuts grilled Tableside, it was with a fairly straightforward Laksa Soup that nutty flavors were bridged into a tiny Steam Bun topped in Pickles, Cashews and Pork Neck, the Asian theme continued by way of Chicken Feet made entirely edible by way of chemistry, freeze drying and deep frying.
Showing off some quality sourcing with drapes of A5 Hyogo Kobe before progressing into messy Pigtails topped in Teriyaki fresh from the Yakatori Grill it was once again here that Munk decided to remind diners to question their preconceptions, five Pill Bugs sacrificed to flavor Tom Yum Soup before rolling into a four-part Cheese Course including the Chef’s favorite after-school Snack paired to the intro from Beverly Hills 90210.
Clearly a fan of Japanese ideas, the next day’s trip destined for Tokyo, it was with a traditional Ice Shaver that Rasmus next produced a palate cleanser to transition palates sweet, the Danish Kobenhavnerstang not particularly cloying thanks to Milk mellowing Passion Fruit and a nice lead-in to Rhubarb beneath powdered Cream, sheets of compressed Vanilla in good Olive Oil and a delicate sandwich made entirely of Caramel.
Having all sorts of fun with “The Painting,” an edible canvas that guests are asked to paint in fruit flavors before enjoying, it was here that Coffee refreshed the palate en route to the meal’s conclusion, a carried ‘Food Truck’ bearing a cone of Mango with Ants following up Chocolate Turtles and a very realistic appearing Gummy Earthworm before finishing strong with a dainty Donut and Frozen Buttermilk Pancakes brought to room temperature by flaming Grand Marnier.
Truly an outstanding experience, the fact that Chef Munk honored a reservation he never had to speaking volumes about the character of a young man who seems poised for big things, it should seem fairly obvious that Alchemist is ‘not for everyone,’ but for those entering with an open mind the rewards are myriad and a reminder that “modernist cuisine” can still be truly breathtaking when placed in the hands of someone working with skill and passion.