Classic Danish food made World Class at Restaurant Barr
Imagine having to open a casual restaurant in the very space that has housed Noma (4-time world best restaurant) and the pressure that goes with it. Thank God, it is not me. The news of the opening made several international newspapers and food blogs, which off course helps to make sure those expectations, are high but for a full restaurant from day 1.
With the huge success of its sister restaurant 108 which in first year of opening won a Michelin star and has served me some memorable dishes the heat was on for Barr to distant itself from the fine dining and delicate cosine that both 108 and Noma shares while still keeping the bond to Noma.
This off course meant that the restaurant had to be redecorated. Thank god, they kept the open and very bright space, but now with wood on the walls, plants in the window frames and small benches that created a relaxed and welcome atmosphere.
And now for the food. The menu is split in three sections: smaller dishes, main dishes and desserts. We started with sharing five smaller dishes.
First of was new Danish potatoes with bacon, goats butter, lovage and the most important ingredients bakskuld. Wow, what a way to start the meal. The bakskuld lifted a dish that on paper seemed very simple and boring to pure deliciousness.
Next up was an equal simple classic Danish dish. Sous vide egg with herring, herbs and a mustard sauce. There is a reason why egg and herring is a classic match. Probably the first time that I had herring at a fine dining restaurant. The acidity was a perfect match for the egg and mustard sauce.
With the next dish we continued with classic Danish dishes with probably the most classic dish of them all frikadeller, which is a Danish meatball that is loved by everyone and probably one of the first things that you feed to a child. I never thought that someone would serve me a frikadelle in a find dining restaurant without it being a molecular deconstruction or something similar stupid. Here it was served true to the home kitchen, but it was the most delicious frikadelle I have ever had.
A Noma classic is roasted bone marrow, which I am thankful for them taking in at Barr. Here it was served almost naked. Roasted and smoked with an acidic side of unripe berries and parsley. My friend who joined me for dinner was upset with me that I ate about 75% of it, and we were supposed to share, and I do not regret it. It was that good.
Originally, we were supposed to move on to the main course, but everything up to this point had been so delicious that we decided to order everything on the menu of the smaller dishes and a second order of the frikadelle. Yes, our waiter looked funny at us at this point, because it was a lot of food, but we wanted to try everything.
First up were the weakest course of the evening. “Classic Caesar salad” with very crisp romaine lettuce, a dried cheese dressing and some pickled berries. In my mind, the balance was not tuned in quite yet as the dressing was too salty.
Pancakes, oyster sauce, caviar and elderflower. An unexpected combo, but a dish that I think has much more potential then was displayed on opening night. I thought that the elderflower and lemon flavors were too dominant compared to the salty oyster sauce and caviar.
The last dish before moving on to the mains was again pure deliciousness. Thinly sliced forest cattle ribeye with radicchio flower pepper, hip rose and grilled rapeseed oil. Everything on this dish was just amazing. It looked beautiful, it had a complex flavor combination and it just tasted amazing.
Granted at this point we were already pretty full, but when we saw the schnitzel being presented for us, we became hungry once again. How they did it is still beyond me. This is a classic Danish dish that in the past has belong in the home kitchen and not in fine dining restaurants. Barr changed that completely. So utterly good. I remember swearing out loud, it was that good.
Dessert was off course required. I went the classic direction with old fashion ice cream with green shoots, green strawberries and what I believe to be a lemon verbena sauce. Perfect balance between sweet and acidity.
Enjoying snaps from Copenhagen Distillery, we both agreed that we had been part of something truly magic. I have no doubt what so ever that Barr will set the tone for the quality of Danish cooking for years to come. Besides Noma Mexico, I cannot remember when I have been so surprised and amazed at a restaurant. Almost all of the dishes were world class, everything made us smile and the waiters were as good and personal as they are at Noma. Yes granted some of them were from Noma, but they managed to make us feel that we were invited back to their home and their extremely capable grandmother was cooking up classic Danish dishes in the kitchen for our pleasure.
As a seasoned foodie, the bar is set high if you want to impress me but this night I was blown away. Did Barr reinvent the wheel? No, but they set complete new standards for what can be achieved with classic Danish dishes and hopefully create a sensation of Danish pride of our home cooking that the fine New Nordic kitchen never achieved.
Barr I will see you again very soon, I NEED a schnitzel and frikadeller.