Friday, September 20, 2013

Amass (Table 153)

Restaurant entrance.

Apéritifs. I had a glass of sparkling red, pinot noir to be exact, a Charmoire from Domaine Alice Beaufort. B had a glass of Bois san Soif by Olivier Masson, made from romorantin and menu pineau.

First dish. St. John's wort with fillings of fava beans, samphire and crème fraiche. Refreshing. In our glass 2012 Amphibolit Nature from Domain Landron in Loire. Served in jeroboam (double magnum) bottles with beautiful seals of yellow lacquer.

The bread was interestingly one of the highlights for me this evening. Served steaming warm, featuring fermented potato and served with pesto made from greens from the garden. Delicious and certainly different. I love how fermentation is getting popular among Copenhagen chefs!

Raw mackerel and spring onion, topped with crispy mackerel skin. Very simple, somewhat fishy, which I appreciated. 

Chips made from oat porridge, walnuts and grated, frozen foie gras. Very subtle, almost too subtle, and easily forgotten. We had a white wine from Bourgogne in our glass. A 2012 Aligoté by Didier Montchovet.

Crisp bits of chicken skin, egg yolk, virgin butter and a "salsa" of sugarsnap peas and söl. So rich but still a very well-balanced dish. A highlight this evening. We drank an oxidized Savagnin from Arbois in Jura

To round off the savory adventures, there was lamb. Breast of lamb in thin slices, accompanied by raw cucumber and gooseberries and mint. A very delicate dish, which however lacked a wow-effect and left an impression of being slightly insipid and slightly unbalanced, as the gooseberries and mint almost took up too much space in the mouth. Our wine pairing was a blend of Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanch and Chardonnay from Anjou, a 2010 Sauvageonne from Domaine Les Griottes. Evident fruity aromas and as such a very good match.

Dessert was a lovely composition of unsweetened milk ice cream, topped with wild cherries, bread croûtons and olive oil. In our glasses, we had another wine by Alice Beaufort, Le Petit Beaufort, Demi-Sec. Unfortunately bit too acidic and dry in the given context.

Avecs. Which could not afford. We had a lovely, Danish apple brandy instead.

Warm and buttery madeleines with pepper, to be eaten with rhubarb compote.

Refshalevej 153
1432 Copenhagen

Frankly, it's about fair time that I get to blog about my experience at highly anticipated Amass, fronted by former head chef at Noma, California-born Matt Orlando. B and I visited more than one month ago amidst a heavy final thesis spurt and time has thus been scarce. Better late than never, though and as it appears that the food in the mean time has been more than sufficiently described in detail (as well as photographed from every possible angle), this review will refrain from just that. Rather I will provide my later reflections on how we experienced the concept of table 153 and the restaurant as a whole.

Turning the clock back to mid-June, tables for Amass were first released for reservation. B had expressed a distinct desire to visit since the restaurant launch was made official in early 2013, and I was quick to book us a table at the Table 153. According to mr. Orlando the concept of the table, hosting a maximum of 10 diners each night, is to bring all sorts of people together. One may call it a communal table, which is a concept I think the concept to some extent succeeded with. 

As we entered the restaurant we were brought to the lounge area for an apéritif with our fellow diners. These included two hardcore and very well-off gastro-tourists from NYC, a Dubai-based Australian heading for an ironman in Sweden, an Austrian-Danish couple and two twenty-something female brits. Quite a mix, and most of all, it was interesting to hear their take on Amass and the Copenhagen dining scene in general. A good start to the evening.

We were seated for dinner and were all served the tasting menu. Both B and I felt slightly disappointed that this "special" table provided nothing but a different, interactive setting for our dinner. Unjustified maybe, I don't know. It was however especially in the light that Amass' acoustic conditions by no means supported the concept of a communal table that disappointment set in (as also pointed to here and here). I was put at the very end and was only able to speak to B and one other person across the table. Further, it was really hard to identify the details of the food and wines when presented by the waiters.

These are thus the main points of criticism of the night. But all in all, what is the conclusion? No doubt Amass is the single-most hyped restaurant opening in Copenhagen, which I have ever witnessed. I can thus only imagine the pressure that Mr. Orlando and the rest of the staff must have felt at opening, particularly in the light of how everyone will compare it to Noma. I think the restaurant showcased a number of sympathetic features, especially the little menu tweaks from day to day is a detail that I really appreciated. The food as such did not blow me away. Was it good? Yes. Mind-blowing? No. I found much greater attention to detail at Bror for instance, which by the way comes at a lower price tag and is set in a cosy venue, too. So as the food certainly was good, I felt like too much attention had been brought to the non-food features of the restaurant. The location, the space, the 153 concept, "lets do a Mikkeller-colab", "always spaces reserved for walk-ins" stressed and so on. And I certainly understand how the restaurant would like to clearly establish its own identify from the very beginning. 

In total, the 153 concept has potential to become really great. Unfortunately, the surroundings when we were visiting did not quite support the proper execution of its mission, to bring people together, and somehow our dinner at Amass did not turn out to be the holistic and sensory experience, which he had hoped for. Too little interaction and too little engagement. Will we visit again? Possibly, but not until the first half year has passed and the fundamental components of the restaurant have been further established.

No comments:

Post a Comment