Beyond a truly exquisite and original gourmet joyride, Den Røde Cottage offers what you typically have to go on vacation to achieve (if you’ll pardon the highfalutin language): a veritable rejuvenation of the soul. A visit to the charmingly rustic, centuries-old red house in the Klampenborg woods makes the city feel further away than it actually is. Roughly as close to the ocean as to the unassuming exit on Strandvejen, you find yourself cosily shrouded on all sides by forest, air and striking stillness. Come to think of it, simply locating the place has the feel of a mystical, fairy tale-like transition from the familiar and contemporary to the wonderful and timeless.
Den Røde Cottage has boasted one Michelin star since earning it in 2012, just less than two years after Anita Klemensen (formerly of the highly-respected ‘1. th.’ back in the city) opened the place with Lars Thomsen, whose culinary chops were perfected at, among other places, Dragsholm Slot. The pair also run Den Gule Cottage, a sister establishment not too far away, which also appeals to quality-conscious customers in the market for either lunch or dinner.
I can only speak in awe of the picturesque red cottage, where my guest and I were welcomed, not two seconds after slamming the cab door shut, by an open door and a smiling staff. Without crowding us, there was an air of relaxed cordiality surrounding the hosts, which made it feel like we were old acquaintances paying them a personal visit. Similarly, to an impressive degree, they all excelled at that all-but-neglected skill of carrying themselves off like they weren’t actually working. I suppose it’s easier to be the perfect host when you can take genuine pride in what you represent.
The dining atmosphere was unpretentious, and the tastefully decorated room modern and uncluttered. Efficiently furnished without being spartan, the room felt ‘solid’ in a way that is achieved only with good materials and winning designs.
Now, pleasantly seated on cushions that looked like they’d never been used before, we were treated to three delightful and ambitiously crafted appetisers, which foreshadowed an evening of rare culinary artistry – this proved true and is worth noting in light of the very reasonable price level. There were Mussels in seaweed with scooped-up cucumber bits, Almonds roasted in artisanal Danish stout, Salmon with smoked curd cheese and more – all served consecutively, which made each treat shine and amounted to a well-rounded crash course in the Royal Copenhagen product line. Enjoy with a glass of champagne if sparkling wine is your thing (the tasty Henriet-Bazin Blanc de Noirs NV Grand Cru is, I believe, 125kr a glass). It’s true of everything we’d savoured at this early stage that the sophistication with which it was pulled off was rivalled only by how potent and lingering every taste was. The appetisers were modestly-sized creations, sure, but they left a considerable imprint on the palate.
At this, the real starting point, the wine menu was uncorked. Eager to try it all, we opted for the eight-course option – meaning we dug into 800 kroners worth of skilfully paired wines. Unable to detail all eight here, I can attest to the expertise with which they were collectively orchestrated and the resulting harmony when they were enjoyed. A 2011 Riesling Spätlese from Mosel, Germany, stood out and made its dessert course extra divine (citrusy ice-cream with shortbread, meringue and a few local, freshly picked shoots).
What else made our evening? Generally seasonally informed, a breakdown of (some of) the highlights included: Lumpfish roe with a poached egg, Pan-fried cod garnished with leeks and smoked sauce, Crispy sweetbread with mustard and beetroot (visually irresistible given the candy-coloured beetroots), Danish veal with celery and capers, an aged cheese symphony, and last but not least Klemensen’s legendary four-layer chocolate cake with sweet apple puree and (yet more) icecream.
Still not excited about a trip to Klampenborg? Let me paraphrase then: displayed in those three appetisers and eight courses was more than twice the gourmet virtuosity and inspiration we paid for.
Den Røde Cottage
Strandvejen 550, Klampenborg;
open: Mon-Sat 18:00-24:00
Top Dish: Chocolate cake
Price Range: 3, 5, 7 or 8 courses from 500-800kr, excl wines;