Zeleste knows that good seafood is all about the zest

 

For those in the know (including myself thanks to the restaurant’s website), ‘zeleste’ was a term used by Greek scholars to mean heavenly and peaceful.  The word perfectly suits Restaurant Zeleste’s location at Store Strandstraede 6, just enough off Nyhavn that you can blissfully forget the throngs of tourists around the harbour. Like many of the buildings in the area, the address has a colourful past, including incarnations as a blacksmith, brothel, erotic museum, flower shop and café, before it became Restaurant Zeleste in 1996.  

So it’s to the restaurant that my friend and I have arrived to experience the food and atmosphere.  We are greeted by several friendly staff, and as we can hear the happy chatter of a large group dinning upstairs, we are pleased to be seated on the main floor in a quiet corner overlooking the secluded courtyard − no doubt a very big draw on a warm, dry, summer night.  Our servers are helpful and attentive, but allow us to enjoy our meal with minimal interruption, discreetly checking the state of our dishes as they pass and ensuring that the bread basket is never empty.

From the simple yet enticing menu of seafood and seasonal game dishes, helpfully written in both English and Danish, we make pretty swift decisions. My dining companion, ever the carnivore, selects the Wild boar main, and the half serving of Canadian lobster to start.  I choose the Swede soup to start, and the daily Skt Anne special fish, which on this night is Whitefish with hollandaise and butter potatoes. The wine menu is slightly more complicated, with a wide selection of old and new world wines, and prices to suit all financial tastes. Our waitress suggests a 2010 Australian red, the Wallace Shiraz Grenache, as its pepper and cherry notes would complement both our selected main dishes.  While very tempted, we decided that it would be best not to break the bank at 120kr a glass, and go for the easy option of a glass of the house’s Chilean red and white.  

The starters arrive and we are delighted; the chilled lobster comes with delicious lemon and dill mayonnaises that we also spread on the generous portion of sourdough bread; unfortunately the butter provided with the bread basket is a little too hard to daub. My friend wields the lobster pick with skill and succeeds in removing all the crustacean meat to the satisfaction of our waitress, who has seen many diners defeated. My Swede soup requires no effort to enjoy; it’s creamy and comforting, yet with a bite thanks to a sprinkling of Danish blue cheese and crisped rye bread.  

The mains quickly follow, and my grilled fish is light but incredibly satisfying with a golden hollandaise sauce, root vegetables and potatoes. The house’s 2011 William Cole Sauvignon Blanc provides a good balance with its citrus flavour.  The Wild boar is served rare with sea salt and crispy skin, and a vibrant carrot puree. My friend approves and happily washes it down the robust, organic 2011 William Cole cabernet sauvignon.  

Amazingly, after deciding that we are a bit full following the reasonably sized first and second courses, we are still easily persuaded to try dessert.  We begin with the Nordic cheese plate, which includes the aptly-named Blue Viking and Vesterhav Sea-salt cheeses, and a strong goat’s milk variety.  Though not normally a cheese connoisseur, I thoroughly enjoy sampling each flavour along with the crisp bread and savoury olive salsa.  

The final flourish comes with the warm chocolate fondant, served with organic vanilla ice cream, apricot compote and caramelised tarragon.  A pot of freshly ground coffee rounds off dessert and brings to a close an evening of simple dishes surprisingly full of flavours and textures.  We leave satiated and happy to have discovered that Zeleste really is a peaceful respite from the bustle of Nyhavn.  

Restaurant Zeleste

Store Strandstræde 6, Cph K; reservation@zeleste.dk, 3316 0606; Open: Mon-Thu 10:00-22:30, Fri & Sat 10:00–23:00, Sun 10:00-22:30; Cuisine: Fish; Top Dish: Seafood Platter; Price Range: three-course menu: 305kr, four courses: 405kr; www.zeleste.dk