Everyone’s trying to do something different in food these days. But different doesn’t necessarily mean out of the ordinary, or good, for that matter.

Greedy Girl and gluttonous husband headed into the centre of Copenhagen (known by the locals as Indre By) to Geist, the relatively new establishment of one of Denmark’s celebrity chefs Bo Bech.
Bech earned his reputation as a top notch cook at his previous restaurant, Paustian (which is still in operation with a different chef) but decided just over a year ago to try something new. Geist is one part sushi bar, one part nightclub, one part restaurant.

The entrance doesn’t prepare you for what’s inside. There’s very little modern architecture in downtown Copenhagen and this building is no exception. Walking through an ornamented arch from the street into a cobblestoned courtyard, you push open a big wrought-iron handle on the door to enter a dark, moody space. To the left are tables which, even at the early-ish hour of 7pm, are quite full.

To the right is a long bar packed with after work revellers. Edging past, the seating, apart from one high, round table, is bar style – most overlook the grey-uniformed chefs at work in the kitchen, while ours faced Kongens Nytorv – a square which on most occasions would look very attractive but now is full of hoardings while yet another of the city’s many new metro stations (due to open in 2018) are built.

Geist, which means ‘spirit’, offers 20 savoury dishes and 10 ‘afters’ – they can’t really be termed desserts as the afters include a range of cheeses. Descriptions are short and not very edifying – more on that later. The wine list is also similarly mystifying to someone not versed in European wines. We ordered a bottle of Guy Charlemagne blanc de blancs champagne and set about tackling the food. The waiter recommended two courses each. As you’d expect, Greedy Girl and gluttonous husband went further than that, ordering five dishes which we asked to be delivered one at a time and shared. Unlike at Formel B, though, this time we were offered a side plate rather than both hunching over one bowl.

The first effort was ‘zucchini marinated with pistachio and curry’. Long, thin ribbons of zucchini were dipped in a curry mix and sat atop a pistachio sludge. It wasn’t necessarily a ‘cream’ – it was too light for cream. Occasional flecks of rock salt popped in the mouth. It was very tasty and the serving was enormous.

Second up was a Geist signature dish – avocado with Rossini caviar, pictured at the top of this blog. It was the prettiest way Greedy Girl had ever seen avocado presented – a lattice of thin slices, with the dark and light colours of the avocado interchanged to give a textural look. The caviar was served as a small quenelle in the middle. Greedy Girl generally finds caviar too strong but this was outrageously wonderful. A unique, fresh combination. Yummo.

Greedy Girl and gluttonous husband initially debated whether to order the next dish of white asparagus with horseradish and black cardamom. Greedy Girl wishes she’d won the ‘no’ argument. This was an absolutely unique dish – absolutely awful.

A large bird’s nest of long strands of white asparagus landed in front of us. It was dressed with yoghurt, horseradish and we could see a few dots of black, which we assumed was the cardamom. It tasted of nothing but horseradish – and was dire. Greedy Girl gave up quickly, while gluttonous husband tried to solider on but we left most of this on the plate. It’s hard to know what kind of palate would enjoy a pile of hard, crunchy asparagus with a sour-ish yoghurt and that horrendous condiment. Priced at 90 DKK (around A$15) the serving presumably was to try to give value for money but even a small amount as a side dish would be too much for Greedy Girl.

Food needs to offer the senses three basic things – it must look good (nope), it must smell good (nope) and obviously it must taste good. This dish failed on all counts.

Three courses down, two to go. The next dish was black lobster (a Danish species) with small tomatoes – and small they were, about the size you’d see in a standard string of pearls. What the menu doesn’t tell you is that it is served with a ‘pineapple vanilla’ dressing.

The lobster itself (two pieces were on the plate, one from the tail and another the claw) was stunning. The little tomatoes were tangy – if a little difficult to skewer and transport from plate to mouth. The dressing? Meh. Pineapple is such a strong flavour and not to Greedy Girl’s liking in savoury dishes. Gluttonous husband was less critical – he was quite happy to dip the tomatoes into it or mop with a piece of bread but he also didn’t enjoy it with the star of the dish, the lobster.

The final course was suckling pig with summer truffle. The meat had been flaked from the pig and served with a pool of very buttery mashed potato and a foam. It was OK – perfectly edible – but lacked seasoning in Greedy Girl’s estimation.

While gluttonous husband went off to enjoy the mirrored ceiling in the toilets, Greedy Girl sipped the remainder of her champagne and watched the passing parade. Even though the time was heading for 9.30pm, the daylight in Copenhagen at this time of year is still very strong. Greedy Girl (also a feared fashion critic in her spare time) couldn’t help but exclaim at a particularly bad outfit (black lace tights teamed with ‘tailored’ jean shorts that had dinky little cuffs) and that led a Swiss woman next to her to share in the laughter.

Minutes later when both our partners had returned, we struck up a conversation about food and shared e-mail addresses, ready to communicate food gems wherever we find them. It persuaded gluttonous husband to order dessert so we could stay and chat.

He chose ‘air in air in air tiramisu’. Again, it was like no accepted tiramisu ever seen before but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The ‘air’ referred to an incredibly light treatment. The normal biscuits you would see in a traditional tiramisu were replaced by crumbs. The coffee element was a lighter than air mousse and the ‘cream’ was a foam. To offer some additional resistance to the bite, a quenelle of ice-cream was added.

Gluttonous husband wasn’t sure of the flavour – he would guess hazlenut. Greedy Girl, who believes the only good coffee-flavoured thing is coffee, demurred when offered a taste.

We saw coffee being presented at another part of the bar. It came with an unusual take on petits-fours – a ‘tree’ of white cotton candy. Greedy Girl’s teeth ached at the sight. She tried to persuade gluttonous husband to order coffee just so she could get closer to the white fuzz but, alas, no dice.
Geist is an unusual place. The waiter told us the intention was to create a young, fun vibe and it certainly achieves that. Apart from the avocado and caviar dish, and the interest provided by the zucchini, it was definitely different – and not in a wonderful way.


Kongens Nytorv 8, Copenhagen

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