For reasons which escape me, given the zeitgeist for all things New Nordic Cuisine, the Michelin guide does not actually have a Scandinavian section. Copenhagen falls squarely into its Main Cities of Europe section and so claims all the Danish stars. As a result of this Michelin inspectors do not venture beyond the environs of Copenhagen, and pretty much ignore the rest of Denmark. Quite a few Danes are happy about this though, it manages to keep prices slightly below astronomical at Michelin worthy restaurants around the country. If the Michelin critics did find their way to Aarhus, Restaurant Frederikshøj would be top of their list. The restaurant is the brainchild of local chef Wassimm Hallal, a bit of a celebrity thanks to his role on Denmark’s version of Hell’s Kitchen. It is nestled in the woodland close to the Royal family’s Aarhus retreat, Marselisborg Slot, and up a punishing hill which in hindsight we shouldn’t have attempted by bike.
Back in March, I was very kindly treated (by my boyfriend, not by any sort of PR agent) to an evening trying out their eight course deluxe menu with wine pairing to celebrate his survival of three whole years listening my various rants. This means:
- I do not know how much all this cost and really don’t want to, the prices are on the website;
- I don’t have so many photos, the need to constantly document things is a bit of a mood killer;
- My memories of what each dish involved are hazy, I didn’t see a menu, and there was a lot of wine involved.
Moving onwards with these caveats in mind, I can say this is a seriously Michelin worthy place. This to me means that this is a definitely a place to go for a special luxurious occasion, with a very defined sense of cooking. The dishes were mainly classically inspired, with some fun whimsical touches. The staff were formal, polite, and very well organised. They were also supplied with gloves to wear when handing us our napkins, apparently under the impression that the great and good of Aarhus are hypochondriac germophobes. They were also very generous in the wine pairings. I suspect they took one look at our wind tussled hair and general scruffiness and realised this probably was not an everyday experience for us. The dining room, like most Michelin dining rooms, is a little formal and cold with some quirky interjections courtesy of some local Nyholm Cantrell glass ornaments.The lounge area where coffee and petit fours are served after was much more my style with kitsch wallpaper, copper lampshades, and decorative glass banana skins on every table.
We started off with a series of ‘snacks’, including crispy chicken skin crackling, potato crisps with an oyster emulsion, a beautiful tartare wrapped in rhubarb, and a savoury deep fried macaron. All of these were delicious and innovative. The menu moved through a selection of seafood, far more than I would have expected from a Danish menu. We had cod, scallop, langoustine, and turbot. Of particular note was the langoustine with raw cauliflower and an emulsion of ginger, soy, nuts and brown butter (lending a luxurious air to a familiar combination). I thought I hated cauliflower before this. Now I know better. The flavours of potato with deep fried morsels of sweetbreads and a lovely sour milk sauce has also stuck in my memory. The scallops with textures of Jerusalem artichoke and truffle provided a beautifully executed riff on a well-trodden combination of ingredients.
After the meal, we relocated to the lounge area, a riot of yellow walls and copper lampshades for petit fours and coffee. We were stuffed to the gills at the this point, and then the petit fours cart arrived. Yes, a wooden cart, stacked with elegant glass jars filled with about twenty different types of petit fours, from chocolate truffles to fruit jellies to macarons, all displayed like an old fashioned sweet shop. It was a beautiful touch and a lovely way to end the evening. Less lovely was tipsily pushing my bike down an incredibly icy hill, but I have no one to blame but myself.
Oddervej 19, 8000 Aarhus C
Ph. 86 14 22 80