The first thing that struck me about the Kødbyen restaurant NOSE2TAIL Meatpacker is its splendid and genial atmosphere. The best way to sum up the place is to say that it is off the charts in two dimensions: unpretentiousness and culinary/vintage excellence.
It is like nothing you’d expect to find so near a formidable nightlife scene – yet there it is.
You sense the restaurant’s signature charm immediately upon entering. The tables are gleaming with elegant stemware hinting at serious sommelier expertise behind the scenes, while the pork of the day is scrawled in a quaint longhand on an old blackboard hanging on the wall.
Clearly the managerial priorities of the restaurant have been intelligently made.
Going the whole hog
As the name might suggest, NOSE2TAIL is all about ‘going the whole hog’ and making use of every part of the animal, including the innards and the odd cuts, which according to the staff offer plenty of interesting taste experiences.
This may sound off-putting to some, but I assure you that although we were treated to a most comprehensive tour of the menu, I left the place as confirmed a carnivore as before.
A Nose2Tail visit should not be rushed because most of the dishes provide an experience beyond merely pleasing the tastebuds.
Take the appetiser of uncut pork crackling, shaped like a shoe and light as air, served with sour cream and chives. There was no way of consuming that unusual crisp and greasy snack with a straight face. It was a deliberately silly gimmick, in my opinion, designed to make you bracket your expectations and allow the chefs to play and surprise.
It wasn’t food so much as an icebreaker, although it did pair nicely with the NV Cremant de Bourgogne Brut, Vitteaut-Alberti (90kr per glass).
At this point the gimmicks were behind us. For the next three hours, across four complex and interesting courses and more wines than I care to enumerate, the chefs didn’t put a foot wrong in anticipating our tastes and needs.
My partner and I opted for the Tasting Menu and the Chef’s Menu, and I was interested to see how geographically diverse the vintages of the accompanying wine menus would be.
A study in garnish
An early highlight was the hand-peeled shrimps with chives mayo, lemon mayo, raspberry jell, dill and watercress. A beautiful composition, it was as soft and fresh as the accompanying 2017 Riesling ‘Zellertal’ Weingutt Schwedhelm.
If charcuterie is your thing I’d recommend the Tasting Menu, however. That course comprised a small meal in itself, with five meats and a handsome bunch of fresh green garnish.
While I explored that cornucopia, my partner sampled the tenderloin tartare dressed with smoked egg yolk, mustard, cognac-infused shallot rings and watercress. The cognac-infused shallot rings were the kind of virtuoso flourish that could elicit an extra star from a jaded restaurant critic who has seen it all.
Cooking with gas
As for us, we hadn’t seen nothing yet – for now the chefs were literally cooking with gas.
I had the juicy pork breast with root vegetables, root vegetable chips, cauliflower puree and boiled potatoes, which was every bit as irresistible as my partner’s beef tenderloin, flanked by a side order of fries with truffle oil and cheese, and pan-fried vegetables. These dishes were the real deal.
Under their spell I began to consider NOSE2TAIL among the best restaurants I’ve ever reviewed – and I say that as someone who’s dipped his fork into the Michelin echelon a couple of times in his career.
Sweetness and Sauterne
We ended the night with an exquisite 2015 Sauterne from Chateau Villefranche and a couple of fruity desserts which – inevitably – paled in comparison with the stellar main course. The truth of the matter was that we were running out of appetite.
All in all, the place was a terrific pleasant surprise. The hospitality of the staff, the warm ambience and the excellent food all blended into a wonderful exercise in informal elegance.