Recently I took a decision to move from Copenhagen to New York and off course, I created a bucket list of restaurants I need to try before I leave. With a strong preference for Nordic food and having never visited Substans it seemed obvious that I had to try Substans.
We started the evening with 3 small snacks. Radishes with a Arla Unika cheese sauce, puff pastry with caviar and what I think was trout served with daikon and edible flowers. The highlight was the puff pastry with caviar, goes without saying.
The next dish was a tartlet made from crispy malt with crabb, cheese, beans and lemon verbena. A bit too much cheese for my taste even though the lemon verbena did what it could to cut through its richness.
Cress has grown massively in popularity the last year or so and was to make an appearance in the next dish as well. Sepia, yeast, pumpkin and cress. I liked the acidity of the juice which was a nice supplement to the sweet pumpkin.
It seems to be a new trend to have a specific bread serving and not just bread as a supplement to each dish. At Substans it was made of “ølandshvede” and the on raw bread had been grilled hard providing for a soft texture and smokey flavor. Very delicious.
The next dish provided the first foodieorgasm of the evening. A perfectly cooked monkfish tale served with a mussel sauce, glass cabbage and apple. A very simple dish with was naturally centered around the delicious monkfish.
From Nordic freshness to “french” and rich. What some might call mash potatoes, 50% potato and 50% cream served with endive, hazelnuts and pickled white asparagus. So rich and delicious made with very few and relative cheap ingredients where the acidic endive was a great match to the rich potato.
The last main was a grilled piece of pork. Rich and crispy texture with raw pears with onion and dill. Nice combinations of both flavor and textures.
The pre dessert was actually one of the highlights of the meal. Grilled herbs with cheese, mustard seeds and crackers. I just love the bitterness of grilled herbs and the fresh cheese was a very nice combination. Such a great snack.
The first dessert was plums with a rosemary ice-cream, caramel and roasted puff pastry flakes. Rosemary ice-cream when done right is amazing which was the case here and the roasted puff pastry was a great match.
To finish the desserts was kefir with a terragon cream and “caramel cheese” by Arla Unika. Nice freshness but nothing spectacular.
Petit fours can be either amazing and innovative or plain and boring. This time the food was somewhere in between, but with the last petit four the restaurant shined in the best possible way throug customer centricity. I always like engaging with the chefs and waiters and at one point when discussing another restaurant I mentioned that I didn’t like marzipan which meant that we didn’t get the standard petit four but a different one as the standard had marzipan. Sometimes it is the small things that count.
Was it worthy of a place on my bucket list? Definently. I liked the simplicity of the food, sometimes keeping it simple is just the way to go. The flavor combinations were great and there were the peaks that I come to expect at restaurants at this level. Compared to Danish standards the restaurant was cheap. 1500kr for a tasting menu including wine vs. 25-3000 for the same experience at several Copenhagen 1 star Michelin restaurants. With the relative low price off course the overall look and feel of the restaurant was not exclusive, but in my mind that doesn’t matter if the rest is up to standard which was the case here including nice attentive service and great wines which matched the food perfectly. As the restaurant works purely with organic ingredients the wines were off course also organic and bioorganic without being too musky which I personally enjoy.