After digesting the meal we had at the New Nordic diner physically and mentally, I am now writing our final food blog from comfort back in the US. Before I bash our restaurant Höst similarly to the way I know most people will I think it would be better to start with the positives. To begin with I initially enjoyed the atmosphere very much of this restaurant, it felt rustic with a hint of Nordic with the exposed wood everywhere, even the antiques hanging from the walls seemed to tie the place together nicely. It felt good to finally sit down at a restaurant in Denmark that actually felt like it belonged there, not just another Italian style pizzeria. My favorite part of the restaurants layout was definitely the spiral staircase, I could barely walk down it empty handed and the thought of waiters running up and down that obstacle with plates in hand was amusing. Other than the aesthetics of the restaurant the only other thing I will put in a positive light is the dining experience itself. I really enjoyed having multiple courses periodically throughout the meal, and despite the size it was always fun to be surprised by an appetizer of some sort. Comparing this style of dining to back in the US I feel so much more rushed here to order and finish my plate as soon as possible; the point of going out for a meal becomes less focused on interaction and socialization with somebody else or a group of people you go with but rather to just enjoy food frantically. I talked a lot in other journals abut how taking time to eat and actually have a conversation with your dining is so much more enjoyable, and I wished that more restaurants back home adopted that style of service.
Next to critique is the food itself, which as far as taste goes I thought was very good overall. There was such a wide and even odd variety of flavors from the smoky mayo to the pickled strawberry to even rhubarb flavoring with the ice cream, that there was always something to be surprised by. One thing that was even more surprsing to me was that there was not one dish that had red meat, especially pork. I know from the article we reviewed Pork Politics on NPR that there is a traditional affinity for Danes to make pork with a lot of their dishes. On my host family’s dinner for example the main course was a meatloaf that consisted of a blend of pork and veal, while wrapped in bacon. There is a 2 to 1 ratio of pigs to Danes even, yet somehow this restaurant excluded it from every one of our plates. Thinking back now I think perhaps we ordered the courses that were based around seafood, because I did see other plates coming from the kitchen with some red meat on it. It looked delicious, better than most of what we were served.
What we were served consisted mainly of vegetables or some fish, often with sides of this white sauce that the waiter would pour over everything, which was actually very good. I believe one of these sauces was a type of horse radish sauce. Of the vegetables and even fruits we had I thought they were all very good, except for the beet we got with our first meal which quite literally tasted just like dirt, like they had pulled it from the ground about an our before putting it on my plate and had not even washed it off yet. Next with the fish I thought it all was pretty good, first with the shrimp chowder in the little cups, and then with the flaky white fish we had with the main course. Most of the people I noticed at the table did not enjoy the taste of the main course, and that was understandable. The fish itself had a pretty pungent taste, and I think it was prepared that way intentionally to give diners a very fishy taste in their mouths. I found it tasty when it was combined with the white sauce they had coated it in, however it was not my favorite thing to eat throughout the meal sadly. The one dish that blew me away actually was the dessert. This ice cream had some kind of rhubarb sauce that came with it, as well as some kind of little bit of cracker that just gave everything a lot of texture and complexity. Truthfully it was some of the best ice cream I had ever had.
Now to go back to the negative aspect I know everyone would agree with I will finish with the issue with the proportions of everything we ate. I understand from reading about the new implications of Nordic food from the article New Nordic Cuisine that the New Nordic movement while revolving around sustainable ways to produce food, it also revolves around food waste. However the serving sizes were so meager with the restaurant Höst that I don’t think food waste would be a problem for any appetite. Some of the portions were so ridiculous, for instance having a single strawberry for an appetizer almost defeats the purpose of garnishing the plate with all of that charcoal. Because one of my classmates ate the table was kind enough to pass on their portion of white fish to me I was able to have a second serving, but even with two portions of the main course I left the restaurant feeling like I just sampled from a variety of entrees. I know one of the biggest produces of food waste can come from restaurants that over-serve people, I think rationing out actual good food in this way will leave customers much less content with their dining choice.