One of the tell-tale signs of a great restaurant is the expressions of the people eating there. Are they looking on with palpable excitement each time a course arrives? Are they engrossed in a great conversation, muttering words of wonder to each other about the wonderful smells and flavours of the wines?
This, my friends, is what we encountered on our night out at the charming Chez Bruno – a warm, elegant and lovingly decorated French brasserie off Gammel Kongevej.
The French owner, Bruno Vandenbulcke, was once a chef at the Michelin-starred restaurant, Kong Hans Kælder in Copenhagen. However last year, he took the plunge and realised his dream of creating his own brasserie with a focus on delivering the highest quality cuisine.
And that’s exactly what one encounters here: quality. It began with a glass of the Domaine Muhlberger Crémant d’Alsace – very smooth with a delicate touch of age.
We then tucked into our starter: some classic bread topped with a rich olive tapenade, air-dried ham, warm grilled artichokes and roasted pine nuts. And of all the stand-outs on that plate, the ham was the best I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying.
The red wine accompanying our starter was very much on the light side – this was a somewhat new experience for me, albeit an extremely good one. And it was a perfect accompaniment for the bread starter as neither one overpowered the other.
As we moved onto the fish courses though, this is where the real joie de vivre started to kick in. I need to emphasise something here: please don’t leave this place without trying the scallops and their delicious counterpart – the chocolate balsamic dressing. A crazy flavour combination? Yes. A stunning treat for the taste buds? Absolutely.
It was then onto the monkfish served on sweet potato with a dressing of Greek olive oil, poppy seeds and fried almonds. This was my dining partner’s favourite course and in her words it was the perfect combination of “sweet, sour, tender and downright delicious”.
To go with the fish was the most vivacious Sauvignon Blanc I’ve had in a long time: a 2011 L’arpent des Vaudons. (And being a New Zealander, I’ve had many a glass of Sav Blanc.)
Now while the fish was in a class of its own, the beef (Bavette steak with caramelised shallots, red wine sauce and seasonal vegetables) also crept up there. Extremely French, and exceedingly bold flavours.
The steak was cooked rare – just how I like it – and it came in that perfect portion size where you suddenly realise how the idea for the book Why French women don’t get fat came to be realised.
This was accompanied with a 2011, Côtes du Rhône, Rocca Maura, Grenache & Syrah. I should add that we had to have a few glasses of this one … it was too good not to.
Considering it was one of those warm Copenhagen summer evenings, it was fitting that the ceiling windows of Chez Bruno opened up onto a quiet street off Gammel Kongevej. I commented to my dining partner that it felt very much like we were on a quaint Parisian street café – the only difference was the number of tall blondes walking by.
When the dessert came we were charmed by the fact that Bruno himself served it. He was excited to present his aptly-named ‘Bruno’s chocolate nougatine cake with crème anglaise’ and I now know why. I wrote in my notes that “my hairs stood up”. It was divine.
Much like when I went to France for the first time, I was won over. The pictures on the wall, the ‘extended dinner party’ atmosphere and the heavenly food combined to make it a beautiful brasserie. So why not indulge yourself in a little French ‘intrigue amoureuse’ this summer at Chez Bruno.
Gammel Kongevej 27, Cph V; 3323 4677; Open: Tue-Sat 17:00-22:15; Cuisine: French; Top Dish: Grilled US Bavette steak; Price Range: Starters 95kr, Mains 225kr; www.chez-bruno.com