Let me begin this review with two truths I am equally adamant about:
The hype around this restaurant has been fierce, culminating a month before my visit by being awarded best restaurant in the world by the 50 Best List. To me, the top of the food chain (if you will) are restaurants that not only deliver at a consistently high level in terms of food and service (and Geranium does!) but also deliver inventive dishes...flavors and flavor combinations you have never seen before, uncommon technique, etc. You movie needs to be special and different to win an Oscar, and a restaurant should deliver the same to be considered best in the world.
I didn't see it.
What Geranium does deliver is a quintessentially Danish experience from its space in the Copenhagen soccer stadium. I have found the people and culture of Denmark to mimic its buildings and furniture design styles: simple, unassuming and innately beautiful. The clean beauty of Geranium is found start to finish. The space is gorgeous, the food is gorgeous and to a person, the servers are simply one of the most beautiful collection of people around.
The restaurant has a terrific energy. Our server shared excitedly about what a great place it is to work and how like family they are. She had even vacationed recently with another server. You can feel this comradery. It's more than just "We play for the same team", they laugh and pat each other's back and you pick up on that feeling from start to finish. It impacts your experience. Like Denmark, Geranium is a really happy to place to be.
Too, the food is gorgeous. Just look at those plates! With a true focus on vegetables (they did away with meat and only serve a small amount of fish throughout), Danish food ideals are clear with each plate. For me, the potato and peas dish was the best of the evening. Super complex, rich and balanced with simply perfect cooking. The bleak roe dish was also superb. There were a few misses too (the mackerel and the ramsom pancake come to mind), which I did not expect.
Service was super friendly and easy. Very few mistakes to find (though the head sommelier regularly checking his watch in the middle of the dining room was a recurring faux pas). Everyone sported broad, genuine smiles. They were happy to be there and it showed.
I had the juice pairing and it was extraordinary. Diverse and delicious. We also witnessed a really special wine bottle opening, which was so much fun. (For supremely expensive wines, you can't risk any part of the cork falling in. So you heat a round branding iron with a blowtorch and push it gently on the neck of the bottle. It melts the glass so you can remove the entire top of the bottle - cork included - and you pour the wine out of the now shortened/cut bottle.) The co-owner provided this service to the table next to ours with such ease and grace, it was really an honor to watch. The entire dining room broke into joyful applause when he finished the process.
With just 13 tables, eating here is special and felt like a privilege - especially so soon after it's #1 status. This is a very difficult reservation and a supremely enjoyable evening! But this is not the best restaurant in the world. Heck, it's not the best restaurant in Copenhagen. (See Noma, Alchemist and even a|o|c.)
My expectations were super high. It comes with the territory of being #1. Outstanding. 3 stars. Worth every penny.
Just not #1.
Replying to Steven Smith
What do you think? I'd love to hear from you.