August 16, 2022

Warning: If you are planning to attend Alchemist any time soon, I recommend NOT reading this post. It shares each step along the way and part of the magic here is the surprise of the journey.

Another Warning: Alchemist shares some very eccentric bites. If you have a weak stomach or have ethical issues with eating some very strange animal parts, I would caution you against walking through these photos.

Alchemist is an experience that is as unique as it is extraordinary. It's not capturable. Having been through it, I'm not even sure that I captured even a small part of it. It is complex and amazing and difficult and awe-inspiring and beautiful.

As you enter through the 2-ton custom-carved brass doors (that open on their own to beckon you in), you are greeted by some of theost friendly, engaging staff I have ever seen. Handing you a cold, scented towel (so welcome on a sweltering day in Copenhagen), they ask about where you're from, what you're expecting, etc. The tone is set. They are ready for you.

From there, into a pitch black room. "Stand on the light on the floor." As you wait, giddy with anticipation, a violinist appears. She is from the Copenhagen Philharmonic and plays a sad Danish folk song. It's beautiful. SHE is beautiful. What a welcome.

As she finishes, the light fades back out and the wall lifts, drawing you into the lounge. A space buzzing with activity. 4 chairs were waiting just for us as we were welcomed by a server, explaining more about the restaurant and what was to come.

As we were served the first "impressions" (as Alchemist calls them), I have never seen such coordination. Two servers laid down four plates in complete sync with one another. They were similarly cleared effortlessly and in unison.

Let me tell you, these bites were absurd. Beautiful, odd, mystifying and supremely delicious. The drinks provided were incredible too.

You are looking at the test kitchen, which is buzzing with activity. Alchemist employs 8 full time chefs for the test kitchen alone! Along with 5 full time graphic designers, their skills on full display on the wine list. (Check out the video below.)

From there, you are used up stairs to the wine cellar, 5 stories tall and completely made of glass. Even the floor/landing you stand on is glass allowing you to look at the wines under your feet. The host gleefully guides you through the wines visually and answers any questions you may have.

Then, on to the dome. Alchemist's signature dining room with HD video playing 360 degrees overhead and a sound system that envelopes the space. "Immersive" may be too weak a word to describe it.

Sitting along the gorgeous, snaking bar, the many (many!!) courses come from a visible kitchen. Each dish has a message, from sustainability to blood donation, ocean plastics to world hunger, caged birds to child labor. The message comes from the servers, from the dish itself and is mirrored by ever changing worlds on the screen above you.

Each time the scene changed on the screen, theusic would get louder andore urgent, subtly announcing "Look up". The transitions were unreal. I have capture most of them in videos below.

I should note that the staff is perfect. Simply perfect. Our primary server Martin was made for this, with an ease of delivery but engaging depth of knowledge about each dish, each wine, each everything. He referred to us BY NAME. ("Dave, your next wine will be...") The highest experience there is.

Their communication was incredible. At one point (following a particularly difficult bite), I joked with my new friends "Can we just have a steak or a piece of chicken or something??" 2 minutes later, a different server walked up with the next wine. "I hear we just want some steak or chicken over here!!" Such incredible little touches that made it clear that you were the star.

Following the meal here, we were used to the pink room. A hilariously fun 10 minutes with a performance actor, allowing you to decompress, laugh, dance (yes, dance!) and just have a really fun time.

From there, to the kitchen where a chef walks you through the space and their digital "pass" which tracks each "table" and where they are in the process.

On to the lounge, for final bites, coffee and tea and just an overall decompression. Martin stayed with us on into the lounge as well, expertly explaining teas and handling even the smallest request.

The lighting in the lounge were little jellyfish, consistently (yet subtly) moving around giving the space life and energy, tying directly into the overall themes for the evening.

Rasmus Munk, the 31 year old chef/creator/visionary was here too (as he had been in the dome, serving us a number of the impressions). He wore the same dress as all other chefs. No tiers. No special call out. Just one egalitarian team delivering the very finest experience.

I'm not sure how else to share what this was. With the visual, experiential and cause-based passions of the next generation, I have to think Alchemist is the first of many to come. But for now, the innovation and excellence of this place is singular. It's special. It is an absolute MUST DO.

You enter a pitch black room, directed to stand on a small sliver of light on the floor. I was worried I would bump into my table mates. You couldn't see. Above you, a violinist appears and begins playing a sad Swedish folk song...
A wall opens silently (vertically) and you are guided to the lounge. That's us right there. There is a bar in the middle and (very active) test kitchen is beyond the glass.
We were quickly handed our first impression, a beautiful flower - the official flower of Denmark - to drink from...
The emptied flowers are set into a matching vase in the middle of the table.
The array of drink offerings. The four of us happened to request the each of the 4 different options.
This dish was called "greed" - "to reflect the human spirit". We were directed to eat it quickly "before it vanished"...
It was similar to frozen ice. But when you put it in your mouth, it DISAPPEARED. I don't mean it left a little liquid on your tongue. It literally turned to nothing. It was confusing and made you go back for another. Then quickly another. And another - trying to capture it. You then realize that you are acting greedily, as the dish is intended. The next video shows how the wine list is presented on a tablet.
Directed to eat these in two bites. The puff underneath was hollow and filled with smoke. So in the first bite, you end up exhaling smoke as you chew. The 2nd (finishing) bite is then flavored heavily with smoke/ash flavor, which transforms the flavor of the dish.
Cotton candy empanadas (reminiscent of e by Jose Andres). These were filled with...bok choy! Savory inside sweet. It worked so well.
"The perfect omelette". There is a small sheet of lardo on top, then dotted with truffle. You ate this with your hands. The inside was like soft scrambled eggs that just BARELY held together. Pings of salt finished as you at this. It was indeed absolutely perfect.
Cheese croquette...
A look inside.
The test kitchen at work. The lighted back wall was all jars containing items, fermenting, etc.
Led up the stairs to the wine cellar - 5 or 6 stories made completely of glass, including the floor/landing you stand on...
This is looking down as you stand on the landing. The host explains the layout and where the various wines are located. We then entered the dome...
This space is not to be believed. The visuals on the ceiling are accentuated by a soundtrack and sound system that makes it COMPLETELY immersive. It takes quite a while to "get used" to the space, if you ever do.
Each seat had its own small light which pivoted. As they set things down to show you, they would swivel various lights to highlight the dish(es), then swivel them back to you.
Our first impressions arriving...
Raw jellyfish, hip rose oil
Based on the novel 1984 - "the government is watching you". You ate the pupil, which is much deeper than expected...
A closer look at what's inside. I noted that one of the ingredients in there was eel eye.
Cracker - monkfish liver, ponzu oil, 8 different types of seaweed
Led to the bathroom, portion of the circular dark wall slides aside (like Star Trek) and you are led to the individual bathrooms. This art is hanging in the vestibule, constantly moving and changing the shadows on the wall...
The bathroom is perfectly on brand and is so thought through. I couldn't get over the BLACK toilet paper. Who does that??...
The mirror on the wall too was black, yet reflective. The next video is exiting the vestibule through the Star Trek door back into the dining area.
"Plastic fantastic." This is cod jaw and tongue. A statement (of course) on plastics in the ocean. (Don't forget...this was DELICIOUS! As every single impression was.) As you at this, the screen showed the ocean with jellyfish and plastic bags etc. in a manner that didn't call attention to it. You looked again at the screen and thought "Oh! That's a plastic bag..."
Tail (the body) of a king crab. Typically thrown away (only the legs are harvested), they spent 4 months in test kitchen to figure out how to cook this fibrous, tough section...
The presentation of the dish...
Adding a sauce...
The consistency was like a fish pie.
The little wooden cutlery holder is made by a local artisan in the Chinese style of woodwork where no glue is used. The pieces just "fit" together. They had doubles (like this) as well as singles (when you only have one piece.
The next dish. You don't eat the tongue (it's plastic), you slurp what's on top and underneath (tomatoes, red bell pepper). Extremely offputting as a sensory experience. "There's something I don't need to do ever again..."...
Here is the plastic tongue on its own.
Lamb lung parfait. Embarrassingly delicious.
Our next impression...
Lamb brain (draped over a puff). It tasted and feels exactly as you would expect. Quite the mental fortitude to get this one down.
Pigeon, wrapped in bees wax. They dry age the pigeon in house like this for 14 days.
At one point, everyone in the restaurant is served this drink and invited to enjoy it without your phone. All of the sudden, the dome goes completely black and every server has disappeared into the kitchen. The drinks themselves all glow around the room. There is no light in the glass. The liquid is made from bioluminescent algae, so the liquid itself is what glows. It immediately brings the 48 diners together as one. Everyone naturally lifted their glasses in the air as if to toast the entire room. What a moment.
The pigeon...
Adding sauce...
The resulting dish. It was perfect.
This is a potato starch roll made with "a lot of butter". Layery and flaky like a croissant...
Cut into rounds...
Setting up the plate...
Adding toppings (I forget what. Creme fraische, maybe?)
Then iberico ham...
The resulting dish. Stupid delicious. I never thought I would have iberico as good as Jose's taco at e, but this was just as good.
This dish was called "hunger". It is rabbit loin. "The world came together to solve COVID in 1 year or so, yet hunger remains an ongoing problem..." Such an incredibly brilliant and stark presentation...
You rolled up each side into a wrap that was honestly so delicious, it's difficult to describe.
Fluffy bao, which 2 years to create...
Adding oxtail sauce with shrimp and dried scallops (black), braised 24 hours...
The resulting dish...
We licked the plate clean. Literally.
The next impression. Yes, those are actual chicken feet. The server explained that 72% of all birds (wild, domestic...every single bird) lives in a cage. What a stunning statistic!...
I don't remember what this was on the end (you didn't eat the chicken foot), but it too was shockingly delicious.
Raw Milk straight from a cow (directly out, not treated), Freeze dried wood ants, honey
"Lifeline"...
This was made with pigs blood. And you tasted it...
The bar code led you to this web page encouraging you to become a blood donor.
My tasting came with a 125 year old port...
Individually "bottled" for Alchemist alone...
I can't describe how delicious this was.
The final bite in the dome: "Guilty pleasure". Commentary on how most chocolate in west Africa has no accountability. Child labor, etc. Alchemist partners with single source cacao producers in Kongo to assure theirs is not tainted...
The bar is shaped like a coffin. (Of course it is...)
Note that even the wrapper is used to promote the message...
And even the "calorie count" section.
Moving to our next location...
The pink room! It is super bright. The woman at the back never says a word. There is a computerized voice that guides you through the experience. She hands you a cold towel for your hands and then you are directed to throw it right onto the floor. Gives you a sense of the humor in this room!...
You are looking at a pudding in a cup. The voice tells you to hold the cup in one hand...stick your finger in the air...then...put your finger in the cup. It's hilarious. The actor boldly gesturing and encouraging you to do so...
Martin with the pudding on his finger...
And doing as directed, licking it off. You are then led to stand up and dance together! (See next video.)
From there, into the kitchen, where a chef shows you around and demonstrates their computerized "pass" where they track every table and every dish. The dining room does NOT eat together...all groups are at various points in the journey. So complicated.
A diagram of the seating. We were with Martin on the right (our server was named Martin as well). I believe the letters indicate whether you have still or sparkling water.
From there, on to the lounge. That's our area straight ahead...
The lounge has its own bar and kitchen.
When offered tea, they brought out 4 types of the tea leaves and our (extraordinary!) waiter Martin explained each tea with great depth. (The tea was phenomenal!)
Amber candy with wood ants
The final bite. Don't remember what it was, but it's delicious.
Rasmus Munk, the chef/creator of Alchemist. He is only 31 years old! He served us a number of our courses in the dome and even here in the lounge. He is quiet, understated, gracious and very intense.
The prior video is the floor of the elevator as you leave. You are greeted in the butterfly room. 2000 butterflies each with a message of "Thank you." Taxis were waiting outside with other staff assisting you in to each.

Comments

What do you think? I'd love to hear from you.

Add A Comment

Replying to Steven Smith