Copenhagen, Denmark, has its first three-star Michelin restaurant, and its name is Geranium. It has eclipsed the renowned Noma, which has two stars. Rasmus Kofoed, Geraniums’s top chef, opened in 2007 and just kept creating.
Kofoed won his first Michelin star in 2012, his second in 2013, and now he has three. Three stars is a coup. There are only 116 restaurants around the globe with three Michelin stars, to put it in perspective. The only other Nordic restaurant to claim three stars is Maaemo in Oslo, Norway. Kofoed has also won more medals than anyone else in the Bocuse D’Or competition.
Michelin awarded Geranium a third star partly because there was less focus on humor and jokey banter than occurred at Noma, apparently. That was the opinion of Gastro magazine’s editor, Jesper Uhrup Jensen when he spoke about it on public TV. The website, “visitcopenhagen,” reports that Restaurant Magazine, of Britain, rated Geranium the 51st best restaurant in the world in 2016. The third star did not bump it up into the top 50, oddly.
Geranium is interested in engaging diners’ senses in order to “restore, enrich and challenge.” Creating unique dishes with the highest quality foods is one way to do this, and it seems that diners agree since there is a 90-day waiting list for dinner reservations.
The restaurant is located in the Faelledparken on the eighth floor. The views include the treetops and green copper roofs of the city as well as the far windmills of Øresund. The building is in the Østerbro area of Copenhagen, and there is parking nearby in Euro-Park pay spaces. Dinner and lunch are served Wednesday through Saturday. Times for dinner are listed like so: 18:30-21:00 (18:30-00:00) and lunch is 12:00-13:00 (12:00-15:30). That is 6:30-9:00 pm (6:30-midnight) and for lunch, noon to one (noon to 3:30 pm) for American readers. Later times apply to weekends.
The current menu at Geranium is “The Spring Universe” at 1800 DKK, or £190.80. It then lists “The Spring Universe Wine Pairing at 1400 DKK, or £148.40, but does not elaborate on the details. This menu is served for lunch and dinner. The same menu without wine and with a juice pairing is half the amount of the wine pairing. “Wine Spectator” magazine and “Fine Wine” magazine have endorsed Geranium in 2014 and 2015. The listings for 2016 may not yet be posted.
It is not surprising that Geranium was rated so highly by Michelin given its focus on the food itself. The restaurant’s décor is pared down to basics with simple wooden tables and chairs, white linen tablecloths and wood floors. One wall is made up of unclad windows and the opposite side of the space is the kitchen. The healthy, natural food is the sole concern of Head Chef Kofoed, and the wine pairings must be of equal quality.
A photo of a dish from the spring menu looks like a bowl of snow-covered material scraped up from the forest floor, only delicious. If that doesn’t generate curiosity, what will? Nothing is listed separately, or even what the dishes are, so diners are going into this with their trust in the chef. It seems safe since he is a three-star wizard of food.
Diners may wonder what it takes to earn Michelin stars. One star means a restaurant has “very good cooking in its category,” according to Andy Haler’s restaurant guide. Two stars mean “excellent cooking, worth a detour.” Three stars mean that the cuisine is “exceptional” and worth a special trip just to eat it. This is based on the 1931 Michelin guide that resurrected the use of three stars.
Michelin does not reveal how often a rater visits a restaurant after it has one or more stars. It may be less than yearly. This guide only covered Europe until 2006. The well-known Eric Ripert, pal of Anthony Bourdain, has the restaurant, “Le Bernardin,” in New York City and still had three stars as of 2015; he likely still has three stars. There is no point in excluding great chefs just because they are not in Europe.
Now, Michelin rates restaurants in Japan, Hong Kong, Macau and the USA, but not in South America. Canada does not seem to be named in Michelin star lists, either. Great Britain has several three-star restaurants, and it is included on European lists. Décor is not a consideration for earning any amount of stars, outside of cleanliness. One Asian eatery is in a car-park.
This powerful guide has been published since 1900, and was begun by the Michelin brothers to sell tires. They wanted more French citizens to buy cars, and therefore car tires, to increase business. What a tradition it has become. Even the brothers might be surprised by the amount of money and influence their sales venture has generated.
In light of this history, it must be more difficult than ever to win three stars from this comprehensive guide’s strict criteria. More countries participating means more competition, and still Geranium has won the coveted three stars. France’s La Liste ranks Geranium ahead of Noma on its assessment of about 200 websites and gastronomic guide literature. It seems to be kudos all around for this chef’s success.
It might be a good idea to get on the three-month waiting list now, since Copenhagen is not that far away. The next holiday trip can be a gastronomic dream in Denmark. It could be a memorable experience.