Head chef Rasmus Kofoed has won a trio of prizes at the prestigious Boucse d’Or competition: bronze in 2007, silver in 2009 and then gold in 2011. These trophies are displayed in a little cabinet in a corner of the Geranium dining room. Rasmus trained at the luxury Hotel d’Angleterre and then at two star Scholteshof in Belgium. He moved back to Copenhagen and after a few stints at local restaurants opened Geranium in 2007 in the Rosenborg Gardens. However the restaurant had to close after the bankruptcy of an investor in 2009. With a new investor, Geranium moved to the Parken soccer stadium in 2010. It gained a Michelin star in 2012 and a second in 2013, winning the ultimate third Michelin star in the 2016 guide.
Geranium is on the eighth floor of the stadium, and is accessed via a lift at ground level. Incidentally, this only starts operating fifteen minutes before service, so if you happen to arrive earlier then you need to wait; there is a pretty park with a nice lake just opposite the stadium if you have time to kill. The dining room has a fine view over this park, with well-spaced tables and an open kitchen at one end.
There was a single tasting menu at DKK 2,000 (£206). This features mostly local vegetables and seafood, with just one meat course in the menu that we experienced. The wine list is lengthy, with around 1,900 different labels on offer, stored in temperature controlled rooms at one end of the restaurant. Examples were Monteverro Vermentino 2013 at DKK 450 for a bottle that you can find in the high street for DKK 130, Egon Muller Riesling Kabinett 2014 at DKK 600 compared to its retail price of DKK 499, and Meursault Pacalet 2014 at DKK 1,500 for a wine that will set you back DKK 814 in a shop. For those with the means, the glorious Coche Dury Meursault Les Perrieres 2005 was a relative bargain at DKK 19,500, actually below its current market price of DKK 23,182.
A sequence of nibbles appeared at the start of the meal. A little bowl of savoury lobster came with walnut mayonnaise, milk, rye vinegar and juice from fermented carrots and sea buckthorn. The latter is highly astringent, and although I have certainly had even more sour versions of dishes with this, it did seem a bit strong to me. However the carrot flavour came through well, as did the shellfish, and there was a pleasant umami (savoury) flavour profile from the dish (16/20). Jerusalem artichoke leaves were prepared with mayonnaise of walnut oil and rye vinegar, delicate little crisps with good flavour (17/20). Next was a spoon of aromatic herbs and flowers, which you were encouraged to tip into a bowl of tomato water and ham fat in the form of a gel. This was quite pleasant, the scent of the herbs complementing the tomato flavour of the stock (16/20).
This was followed by charred potato presented as “stones” alongside real stones, with sheep's butter flavoured with an aroma from bark as a dip. The potato was excellent, and worked well with the gentle taste of the sheep butter (17/20). "Dillstone" mackerel came with cream of horseradish and frozen juice from pickled dill. The flavours were quite strong but harmonious, the bite of horseradish nicely lifting the mackerel, the dill complementing the inherent oiliness of the fish (18/20). A fake "razor clam" was actually a thin dough painted with ashes and algae and had a filling with razor clam tartar, tarragon, parsley and sour cream. This was lovely, the flavour of the clam very well balanced by the herbs and what seemed to be a touch of citrus flavour, the overall presentation quite clever but above all tasting good (19/20).
The first official dish of the menu comprised discs of lightly pickled yellow beets topped with a vinegar gel and aromatic seeds, smoked yoghurt juice and beach plant oil. This was excellent, the earthy flavour of the beetroot coming through well, the yoghurt nicely complemented by the slight sourness from the vinegar gel (18/20). Next was raw Danish white asparagus in layers with asparagus vinegar and verbena with scallop roe juice and brown butter, separately served with little tarts of scallop and dried wild trout. This was pretty much the last white asparagus of the season, its earthiness an interesting contrast to the inherent sweetness of the shellfish (17/20).
Salted and gently smoked haddock came with parsley stems and Finnish caviar in clarified buttermilk, with crispy fish scales. This was a pretty dish that also had nicely balanced flavours, the saltiness of the caviar a natural seasoning for the fish, the herbs working well with the haddock and the scales giving a textural contrast (18/20).
Bread was made from scratch, with three choices: crispy grains, gluten free bread with seeds and little rolls of bread with grains. These all had excellent texture (18/20). A miniature soup of creamy summer vegetables including leeks and new potatoes had quail egg with apple vinegar, grilled oyster, pickled elderflowers and peas, oyster foam, wild herbs, grilled asparagus, melted pork fat, sunflower seeds and melted "Vesterhafs" aged cheese from north west Denmark, garnished with truffle. The asparagus had very good flavour, and the egg, cheese and herbs combined well to a pleasing overall effect (17/20). Pan-fried morels with mustard seeds, mustard cress, juice made from roasted duck feet, roasted pork jus, sunflower seeds and truffle was next, the morels just a touch grainy in places but the bite of mustard very pleasing (17/20).
The final savoury dish was Danish pork neck that was cooked for 20 hours, with young cabbage leaves, pickled young garlic, pine oil and black currant leaves with pork jus. The meat was very tender and the earthy flavour of the cabbage was a good pairing with it, the garlic lifting the flavour of the dish (18/20).
A crisp beetroot sphere came with freeze-dried rhubarb, yoghurt and tagetes (a kind of sunflower) and aromatic thyme flowers. Although I am not a fan of pseudo savoury desserts this was a good one of the breed, the sharpness of the rhubarb and yoghurt cutting through the yoghurt (16/20). This was followed by ice cream made from beeswax, pollen and honey, served with cloudberries, that most Scandinavian of fruits. This worked well, with the acidity of the berries nicely matching the sweetness of the honey (17/20). A final and very pretty desert of wood sorrel granita and woodruff-infused white chocolate cream had a "tree" of prune caramel which a customer is encouraged to break into and then combine with the cream, The flavours worked reasonably well together though the caramel "tree" broke into quite sharp shards which were not easy to eat (15/20). I am not a liquorice fan so I don't feel able to judge the liquorice mousse shaped as a skull that appeared at the end.
With coffee there were some petit fours: caramel with fennel seeds and gooseberry tea, crisp beetroot and lingonberry puree, soft cake with pumpkin seed marzipan, uncooked cookie dough and chocolate with oats and sea buckthorn powder, and finally green egg with pine and marshmallow with hip rose. Doubtless these were technically accomplished but surely at the end of a lengthy meal most people would prefer a simple chocolate with their coffee rather than continuing to be challenged with unfamiliar tastes?
Service was excellent, with many of the dishes being delivered directly by the chefs. The bill came to DKK 2,000 per head (£206) plus tip. If you shared a modest bottle of wine then a typical cost per head would be around £250. That does not seem excessive given the generally scary prices in Scandinavia and the evident levels of culinary skill on display here. Overall the meal was very enjoyable, with good quality ingredients, dishes attractively presented and skilfully cooked in mostly pleasing flavour combinations.Book