After a short cab ride through snowy Copenhagen (and finishing off our brilliant doggy bags) we arrived at the hotel Nimb at the Tivoli where the one star Restaurant Herman is located. The Nimb is clearly one of the best hotels in town and had been reopened as the New Nimb in May 2008 along with its gourmet restaurant Herman. Soon in 2009 Herman did receive its first Michelin star.
Chef Thomas Herman was born in Jutland and worked at Kong Hans, Arzak and La Broche in Madrid. He stresses that the recollection of memories is an important aspect of tasting of a particular dish – he plays with the emotions of the diner by re-interpretations of traditional Danish and Nordic dishes. This is appealing to me – memories of previous encounters with a certain dish or flavour combinations evoke emotions and add another dimension to the dining experience. So, I was ready to experience Thomas’ cuisine…
Steve Plotnicki was already waiting for us as he couldn’t join us for Kiin Kiin before. The dining room is more like a traditional Gourmet restaurant than the other Copenhagen restaurants – high-quality table cloths, fine porcelain and wine glasses very similar to a fine dining establishment around the world. Nevertheless, the atmosphere is vibrant and service is warm and welcoming – so I really like it from the beginning.
We were greeted with outstanding oysters with seaweed (as far as I can remember) – a refreshing and excellent start.
Then, a bisque of ceps with scallops from the Faroe Islands was served with funnel chanterelles, ash, fresh cheese and Sherry. I didn’t taste scallops from Faroe before but have to admit that these small specimen are quite delicate in taste, a bit firmer having more maritime flavours that the ones from Brittany. The kick here was the fresh cheese that added textural breath and some slight acidity which worked very well with the slight Sherry note in the soup. The ceps were very present in the surprisingly light soup. Excellent! Nice pairing with a Nicolas Joly from 2005.
The next dish was characteristic for Herman: North sea turbot as “Lobescobes” with winter truffles served with potatoes, butter from our dairy and beetroot. As it seems like a ‘simple’ dish at first glance, this turned out to hold quite a few surprises. First, the different structures of beetroot worked very well together like a small brass string section in a orchestre – they provided a slightly sweet and earthy undertone. The perfectly cooked turbot war wrapped in beetroot jelly which worked surprisingly well – the beetroot served as a coating and did not dominate the turbot. As a side they served a creamy butter topped with winter truffles which parfumed the dish if one uses some bread – yummy…
‘Lobescobes’ or lobscouse is a traditional dish of seamen today still to be eaten in Northern Germany and Scandinavia. Originally one boils salted or corned beef in broth and then mincing it with beetroot, onions, boiled potatoes and herring. Herman deconstructs this dish but emphasizes the beetroot and serves the potato as a puree with truffles and onions. Most importantly the strong herring is removed and the turbot is a good alternative to the beef. This results in a much lighter and more transparent dish and, as I am not particularly fond of the strong traditional lobscouse, I very much like this altered version.
All in all a very characteristic snapshot of modern Danish cuisine with regional products, modern techniques & plating and to-the-point flavours but more refined compared to other restaurants like noma or MR. Herman has developed his own distinct style and, coupled with a very nice setting and an exceptional service, this will warrant at least a rising second star. As it is apparent that the cuisine has made big steps since the opening I will clearly come back for a ‘full’ meal rather soon.
Thanks to Thomas Herman and the whole team for providing us with some brilliant insights on their take on Nordic cuisine!