Restaurant Bühlmann is located in the classic hotel Scheelsminde which dates back more than 200 years in the outskirts of the city of Aalborg in Denmark. Since Nadia and Christian a few years back joined the restaurant as head chef and restaurant manager ambitions have gone up. I think its only fair enough to say that Aalborg is not as famous for their dining scene as Copenhagen. However in recent years things have started to change and Bühlman is a good example of just that.
As any ambitious hotelrestaurant they naturally serve both a la carte as well as two different tasting menus. I would try their most ambitious one called “récit” which is French for storytelling which is exactly what they want to do. They want to tell stories about the hotel, its founder, themselves and the change in produce that seasons bring them.
My story this evening would start in the wine cellar which was a favorite place to enjoy a cold beer for the founder. My time in the cellar would however come with a few snacks and a glass of champagne. That presentation and theatrics would play a part of the evening was obvious from the beginning. In came a a bowl of leaves centered around a small bowl with my first snack. Liquid nitrogen was poured over for effect. A crowndeer mantle was also placed on the table and with it a small cone of tartare made from the deer. Finally a luxury version of chips with dip (holiday dip) but in the form of crispy potatoes, a crème of potatoes and topped with nice oscietra caviar. 3 really nice snacks that combined great ingredients, presentation and naturally flavor in a perfect match. Obviously it would be no ordinary evening.
Up in the dining room I would be seated at a table where half of it was decorated with various elements from the sea to underscore what was next. What was next was to begin with a guillard oyster with a bit of ginger and wasabi. The oyster was served colder than usual which I actually really liked as it gave the dish much better balance. Also a dish that showed that even though Christian is classical French trained he does look to Japan for inspiration.
The sushi wave hit Denmark about 15 years ago where it made its entry in a big way in the medium priced segments with a lot of Danish interpretations of the traditional Japanese sushi. One of those was the panko fried ebi shrimp. This next dish was inspired by that memory but done completely different. A crisp was made of a concentrated stock made from the head and the corral and in side a small tartare with a bit of yuzu and topped with oscietra classic caviar. A nice bite mixing sweet and salty. Presentation was again on point as well.
We would continue with more inspiration from Japan. This time a hamachi which had been cured in salt and sugar and served with a very delicious sauce mixing both honey, soy and chili. A dish that was both refined, simple and delicious.
For the first and last time we would go to Thailand as Christian the head chef had a brief stint working in a Thai restaurant. A classic lobster bisque had been made but once finished it would be mixed with a Tom yam paste and served with delicious squid. A very nice match of the classic French and Thai flavors where the heat didn’t overpower the rest of the flavor elements.
The next dish was one of the highlights of the evening. Black lobster that had been cured in a paste of hip rose and raspberries served with hip rose and a yuzo kosho beurre blanc. An obvious great match of acidity and lots of umami from the beurre blanc. A dish that just a pure joy to eat.
For the next dish we would look more to France for inspiration. Caviar was placed on a massive tuille which naturally catches your attention, but in reality the delicious cod with a smoked butter deserved even more attention. A rich and delicious dish.
From the sea into the forrest. The white tablecloth was replaced with a black one and the decorations from the sea would equally change to a deer antler to highlight that we would change scenery. To begin with a cream made from corn, egg yolk and a concentrated sauce made of all the innards of the pigeon. This was topped with frequant winter truffles. A very nice dish where the presentation was obvious impressive and so was the flavor.
For the final savory dish we have grilled pigeon served with two different sauces. The first was made of the liver and the second of beetroot and miso. Two equally powerful sauces that balanced each other very well.
A small sorbet of quince was served with a bit of sancho just to once again underscore the connection to Japan. A nice transition to the two final desserts.
The first dessert would be carameliseret white chocolate, with salted caramel and a crisp of Jerusalem artischoke. Jerusalem artischoke usually works quiete well in desserts for their obvious sweet and savory elements and it would hear as well.
We would finish as we started with caviar and childhood memories. This time a gourmet version of cheap danish toffee with caramel transformed into its gourmet counterpart. The menu is about telling stories and they did just that.
Merging the cooking style of France, Denmark and Japan has been very popular the last couple of years in Denmark. There is a natural reason for that. It works. Here the Japanese influence was subtle and well placed. The menu is overall very refined and balanced and you could feel that the storytelling all the way through the menu making it quiete personal which is always a very good idea. Their flavors are on point and well within a Michelin star if only the inspectors would visit. As with any restaurant at that level luxurious ingredients play a big role and they did here as well with both caviar and large quantities, lobster and pigeon just to name a few. The last couple of years caviar has invaded the Danish restaurant scene to a point where for me its a bit over the top. With 4 caviar servings I would have been OK with one of these changing to a different ingredient luxurious or not simply for the variation and for proving that they can make flavorful and delicious food and giving a luxurious feel without the use of caviar. With a price point of 450$ for the menu including wine it’s also fair to say that the amount of caviar is unusual making it and even better and extraordinary value for money experience.
It’s safe to say that I truely enjoyed my dinner at Bühlman and I will be crossing my fingers that the Michelin inspectors will finally pay them a visit. They deserve that and also the star should follow.
I was invited by the restaurant to dine with them
Location: Hotel Scheelsminde (Aalborg)
Head chef: Christian Nurup
Menu: a la carte and 18 course tasting menu (450$) including wine