1408 København K
T: +45 33 25 22 23
1 Michelin star since 2013
World’s 50 Best discovery restaurant 2015
23rd – Opinionated about Dining (Europe)
2nd visit: Dinner Friday 3rd February 2017
Our favourite meal alongside Azurmendi in 2016. We started planning our next trip somewhere around dish 3 of 20. Raved about by those in the know. This restaurant is a triumph (18.5/20)
There’s something magical about this place. I’m not sure I even know precisely what exactly it is, but the sum of the parts are surely very special. Nestled in a nondescript road in central Copenhagen with unmarked doors and no sign whatsoever other than a beautiful lit doorbell, this is the more accessible city outpost of the original sister restaurant which lives on the Island of Bornholm in northern Denmark. And we are led to believe the style, the philosophy, and even the terroir of much of the food is situated in the same place; the island of Bornholm in which chef Nicolai Norregaard was first inspired to create the original.
We originally came a few months back and were already relatively confident we’d find good food here. Kadeau had been suggested to us by a fellow bon vivant blogger, Jason, who had recently shown exquisite taste in his recommendations for some outstanding restaurants in Northern Spain. We knew it was going to be good, but what we were presented with was better. The food that day struck an emotional chord with us both, and that was despite Nadya being unlucky enough to be eating whilst having the Flu. She still raved about it.
So last time it was lunch in late summer turning into early autumn. When it was just still warm enough for Sophia to spend an hour fiddling around in the central courtyard when at around course 10 she got bored with sitting still. This time it was dinner, on a bitterly cold, drizzly, winters’ evening.
“We grow, harvest, preserve, serve and love, Bornholm.”
Denmark is close to our base in Holland in a number of ways; Geographically, linguistically, culturally. Copenhagen feels a lot like a home away from home to an Amsterdammer; Bikes everywhere, water everywhere, and a people also who deeply value that supposedly non-translatable-to-English quality that both cultures prize. Gezellikheid in Dutch, Hygge in Danish; It describes a warm feeling of safety and contentment, often with the implication of close friends and family huddled nearby. There is something much of this quality about this restaurant, especially in the evening.
The stable doors open to welcome you in from the cold. Uncoated, you are led down a dark hallway towards a vague incandescent glow – the promise of warmth and good things to come. The team drop their tweezers and line up their whites, but this is a friendly casual welcome not a military exercise – more a welcome home than an inspection of the guard. The extraordinary temple-like open wooden kitchen designed by Garde Hvalsøe stands directly behind them, spotlights on the work surfaces and candles placed elegantly around the room piercing the darkness. The crew return silently, politely, to their silent work. This is more a monastery than classic Michelin kitchen. If there is a brigade system at work its nigh on impossible to see – certainly no one is barking orders. As we are ushered into an adjoining space, seated on sofas, and served incredible warming umami-heavy broths (mine from beef with kombu, and Nadya’s of intense dried mushroom), there is the vague feeling of having being welcomed into a friend’s sitting room – albeit a friend who happens to live in one of the most exciting restaurants around right now. Hygge again. We are the first to arrive and we overhear the chefs discussing what to cook Sophia… ‘for the little one perhaps some turbot cooked simply….’. Show my daughter kindness and respect, and I will love you for ever. Bravo.
That feeling of homeliness continues as we are seated at our table. The dining room has been cut down from the original larger version, this time to a mere 20 or so covers. It is intimate and quiet, and again has something reminiscent of the home about it. A very style-conscious 70’s living room. I recall furniture a little like this when I was small, and that’s also quite comforting. But this is not retro pastiche… its more timeless, calming, welcoming design.
Simplicity, seasonality, preservation. These are the banners that the new Nordic cuisine lives under. They are all here. Pickling, multiple formats of long-term fermentation, berries, seafood, earthy winter vegetables. It’s all here. But this is a different restaurant from Noma, the galactically famous standard-bearer. And I think in many ways its better.
“The backbone of our cuisine is the nature of Bornholm – the wild as well as the cultivated. We care for traditions but we strive to renew.”
One of the many reasons I am so fond of food, apart from all the high philosophical ideals about taste memory, sharing, received culture and the rest, is simply that I’m hungry. I’m usually hungry. And this is really all you need to know about the difference between restaurants like Noma and restaurants like Kadeau. Both stimulate intellectually, both sit you down firmly in place, in season, in context. But which is more successful at satisfying hunger? Kadeau, hands down. As Noma roams off to the right towards some almost socio-political ideal of eating, here you can find something a little more balanced, more delicious, more satisfying. Yes perhaps more familiar, but that’s a good thing. The key to the great restaurants is in exploring from your comfort zone, and leaving you satisfied. No one wants to really be shaken to the core, to be wholly terrified by the prospect of eating a dish. There needs to be something to hang onto as the chef leads you out into the unknown. And they need to feed you too. At Kadeau, the combination of new and familiar, presented within the home-from-home atmosphere is intoxicating.
Savoy leaves are served simply with a huge wallop of butteryness, slightly crispy on one side, a tart note from the sauerkraut and ozoney richness from the oyster. (This dish is so perfect that I’m literally salivating as I write this). We had it before served with an oyster foam. It doesn’t need it.
Sophia, by now entertaining herself by drinking apple juice (also from Bornholm) out of a huge burgundy glass, thankfully didn’t have to wait too long for the bread to arrive. Here they serve a bread course, which is becoming quite popular in long-winded menus these days, and it works much better here than elsewhere given the bread is remarkable. Lardo brushed, with butter with cherry ash-infused butter. They are wise to only allow one piece per person.
As ever in the kitchen of northern Europe and Scandinavia, seafood looms large. Here is no exception. We are wooed by a little cracker of ancient mahogany clam punctuated by slightly acidic fermented wheat.
The chefs take it in turns to bring a dish to the table. There is a different accent every time. A serving of melt-in-the-mouth twice-smoked salmon, both hot and cold, is carefully excavated from a whole side of fish and served with preserved tomatoes and figs. A perfect balance of acidity and saltines for the rich fish. For Nadya they have similarly prepared a carrot, which delivers almost the identical silky texture and smokiness.
Umami lingers over every dish. This is a calling card of the new Nordic cuisine; During the better months as much of everything is harvested and carefully prepared for preservation. That can take the shape of many processes, each with quite varied results in terms of flavour profiles, but in all cases something of the essence of the target food is intensified and almost always there is some natural MSG elevation going on. A huge kick came from the white asparagus sauce served with burnt celeriac, perfectly cooked with just the right amount of give. A buttery leaf with smoke from cod’s roe followed. Bliss.
Most of this food is one small element away from being vegetarian anyway so with some small thoughtful substitutions we ended up eating very similar menus along the way.
Less so indeed for the two meat courses. I don’t in any way think of the arrival of meat as the main event, but I do certainly miss it if it’s not there. Here they judge it perfectly. I beautiful aged, juicy pork chop served as simply as possible. As a garnish even more umami from kelp and koji butter. This is an outstanding dish who’s visual simplicity belies a lot of work and thought in the background. So too for the minuscule but perfectly formed offering of duck. Its garnish of fermented pumpkin is inspired.
Desert rounds off what was a simply joyful, almost faultless, dining experience. Only at one time, when they paused to give us time to breath before the deserts did I have to politely point out it was way past Sophia’s bedtime and they would rather just serve desert than have her get really bored and start roaming round the dining room. I can hardly fault the service for this small understandable oversight.
There was an excellent balance between savoury and sweet from the first dish of Ymer (a Danish fermented milk product resembling yogurt), offset with buttermilk fudge and finished with crispy potato and lyme grass (a local version of the similarly sounding SE Asian ingredient). Finally, and to really finish, a fabulously refreshing dish of fermented raspberries… deliciously fizzy on the tongue. Getting this to taste refreshing and interesting and not just ‘going bad’ is a delicate balancing act. I know as I’ve experienced a similar dish badly executed and its truly disgusting. Here they get it just right.
This is a spectacularly good restaurant which has everything to do with attention to detail and balance. Its innovative but not uncomfortably so, it’s very thoughtful without being patronising. The food is satisfying and delicious. Local, seasonal, filled with umami and complexity, the sour and buttery. This was our second visit. We were more excited about coming back than our first visit to Noma the day after. During our meal, at about course 3 of 20, we looked at each other blissfully and started planning when would be next time.