Friday, 9 December 2011

Bistro Nord

Living in Elsinore (Helsingør) as T does means that there are not that many options for dining out (if you are T, that is). One place has delivered gourmet food consistently despite change of owners. Today this is Bistro Nord. Earlier the restaurant on Strandvejen in Ålsgårde was managed by the famous Danish chef, Jan Hurtigkarl who has since opened another very good restaurant, Mielcke og Hurtigkarl in Frederiksberg (Copenhagen). T has on more than one occasion visited the restaurant under its former owner, but hasn't tried out the new one. It has received splendid reviews and so we set out to test it.
We are placed on what was once the porch, but is now covered by a roof, but still maintaining the great view towards Sweden with the sea of Kattegat to separate us. On this evening it has turned dark a long time ago, but a nearly full moon shines icily over the sea and though attempts to take photos of the scene fail it still is quite beautiful. It has to be said that, even though it is covered it is still rather cold to sit on the porch, which they of course know at Bistro Nord, so they have put a blanket on the backs of the chairs.
We have pre-ordered a 4-course menu which includes a glass of champagne for an aperitif. The waitress, who we find to be extremely pleasant and knowledgable during the evening, has no difficulty persuading us to have a small starter with the champagne. We also suspect that the waitress is in fact also one of the two general managers, but that does not affect our opinion that we got excellent service this evening. K has two oysters – one from Bretagne and one from Limfjorden (Denmark). They are both served fresh with a little bit of tomato/vinegar/tabasco sauce on the side. It was a nice touch to try them next to one another and patriotic as we are, we found the Danish oyster to be the better one (in fact it was also much bigger than its French counterpart).
T had caviar on citruscreme and crisp flakes of Jerusalem artichoke. The caviar was in fact a combination of both caviar and salmon roe, but still quite nice. Maybe the citruscreme was a bit too dominant, but still quite good.
First course was Sig roe (Sorry no known English name for that fish, but the nice waitress told us that it was a fish related to cod and that it lived primarily south of Fyn). This was served on a blinis with a dill mayo, croutons and Vesterhavsost (which, of course, is a favourite of both K and T). Very good.
Oftentimes we choose to go with the wine menu that a restaurant like this suggests. We trust them to come with good suggestions and also this is a way to broaden our horizon and taste something other than what we would choose ourselves. Today, however, we think that the wine list looks good. It is not that extensive, but what they have looks good and furthermore, it seems to us as if the markup is not too big. The thing with buying wine at restaurants in Denmark is that you can easily pay 3 times the retail price fore a bottle of wine. That is rather tiresome. On the other hand it means that when we dine abroad we often find the wines quite affordable. We do revise that point of view when we return home and add up the sums spent on wine. We ask the waitress to suggest something and we select a bottle of Beaune 1er Cru “Clos de La Feguine” 2006 from Jacques Prieur and for later a bottle of Chateau la Nerthe 2007 Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Just to give an idea about prices we later check up and find that the Beaune, which we pay 615 DKK for can be bought in retail in Denmark for 368 DKK, which of course makes the mark-up much better than what is the norm in Denmark. Of course Danish prices are in themselves much higher than the rest of the world with the possible exception of Norway and Sweden.
Well, back to the dinner. Next we have fried scallops with spinach and cauliflower and browned butter. Again, this was very good and we did not regret our wine selection.
The main course was filet of beef with caramelized celery, Brussels sprouts and truffles from Gotland. This is delicious and, naturally, cooked perfectly. The  Chateau la Nerthe goes well along with the beef and is s great drink now. Rich in fruit and the tannins are smooth.
We are not quite ready for dessert and so ask for a plate of cheese. This was probably a mistake. The plate contained an assortment of Danish cheeses, høost, vesterhavsost and Blå Kornblomst. All good cheeses that we would, and indeed have served ourselves on occasion. The problem was in the variety. The first two are dry cow milk cheeses and would perhaps go well with a glass of dry white wine or sherry, whereas the the latter, blue cheese would be better with a glass of sweet (dessert) wine. That problem could of course be remedied and indeed our excellent waitress came with a glass of Eiswein. Unfortunately, the damage had been done and we were not quite content. T has come to the conclusion that he does not enjoy a cheese plate with very different cheeses. The correct way to eat them, is  in order of strenth of taste. But when served like this, T would have preferred one type of cheese with one glass of wine. The blue cheese is very rich and thereby the contrast between cheeses become to strong.
We come to the dessert, which is "Buckthorn and white chocolate", which is a an ice cream made with the berries from buckthorn bush. It is quite good  and we have the aforementioned glass of Eiswein with it.
After a cup of espresso we are ready to leave. Despite being the first to come we are almost the last to leave. It has been a great dinner and is a commendable restaurant, when you are in the north of Zealand (Sjælland). K, the city girl, does not on this occasion talk about as the "outskirts of Denmark" (Udkantsdanmark)  All in all 8,5/10

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