To be honest, I was a little skeptical of New Nordic cuisine. From what I heard and the pictures I saw, I thought it was too fancy and the portions too small. The food presentation seemed unnecessarily lavish, coming from the viewpoint of an American who carelessly loads a plate with food. After learning about the New Nordic Movement in class, I started to understand the cuisine and why it is executed in such a particular way. The New Nordic Manifesto “promotes a cuisine based on purity, simplicity and freshness, one that reflects the changing seasons.” All of the ingredients are expected to be “distinct and recognisable and their preparation and presentation should bring out their local characteristics” (New Nordic Cuisine 7). This fairly new movement is “changing the way [people] buy food and eat,” noticeable in Danish society (Goulding). I was looking forward to seeing how Høst, a New Nordic restaurant, would comply with these expectations and what type of food would be served.
Our table at Høst was situated in its own rustic room, surrounded by bare cement walls, with old pizza boards hanging on one side. The table was aged wood, appearing to be unrefined; charming in my opinion. Grey drapes separated us from the rest of the restaurant, but they were pulled open, so I could see into the next room. The dinning area was dark, but candles illuminated the room, making customers feel welcome and at home. I noticed a man wearing a t-shirt and shorts while another was wearing slacks and a button up. Even though the restaurant was recognized by the Michelin Guide, people were not expected to dress fancy. This added a sense of freedom where people could dress how they pleased and truly feel comfortable.
Our dinner started with bread and butter. The two different kinds of bread sat in a bowl of hay, reminding me of eggs in a chicken coop, I assume to allude to its natural ingredients. Our appetizer consisted of radishes, tiny pickled strawberries and cups of shrimp, all on top of charcoal. The presentation was appealing, the bright red radishes contrasted well with the black charcoal. There were two of every item, so you could share with the person sitting next to you. Except for the radishes, all of the flavors were new to me, I cannot describe it as anything other than interesting. The next dish was a mix of cucumbers, pumpkin seeds, bean sprouts, raw salmon and horseradish sauce. After the first bite, I could not decide if I liked it or not. I thought the pumpkin seeds elevated the overall flavor considerably, because I enjoy pumpkin seeds so much. Next, we were served a sort of crab taco that was also interesting. To me, the texture was not desirable, but I kept on eating to clear my plate. For the main dish, we were served a sort of fish that was shaped like a patty with one piece of asparagus. In my opinion, the fish was not appetizing, so I gave it to a classmate, but the asparagus was delicious. I devoured my one piece so quickly, I wish I had more. Hands down, the dessert was the best dish. The ice cream with strawberries and some sort of compote was delicious, it was not too sweet or too bland. Definitely a good ending to the New Nordic experience.
I must say, after all of the dishes I was left feeling mostly unsatisfied, the portions were so small I was not full. Going into this experience I tried to have an open mind and not be picky. I knew New Nordic cuisine would be totally unfamiliar, but I was willing to branch out and try something new. Høst undeniably made me step out of my comfort zone and I am grateful for the experience. Even though I was not totally sold on the food, I was glad to be able to spend the last meal in Copenhagen with everyone surrounded around a table talking and laughing.