I didn’t really come up with the title of this entry myself instead I took it from a Danish TV-show and several newspaper articles about the restaurant which were published before it opened. The restaurant opening was probably the most hyped restaurant opening ever in Copenhagen including the relaunch of Noma in 2018. It wasn’t just anticipated in Denmark – it had actually made it to second place in Robbreport’s list of the 11 most anticipated restaurants openings in the world in 2019.
The hype about the restaurant was to a large extent a result of the time and money which had gone into the restaurant before it actually opened. The head chef had another version of Alchemist which was located in another part of Copenhagen but at this new location he had a Danish billionaire as an investor. The billionaire allegedly had put up 100 million DKK or around 15 million USD into the restaurant before it opened. Hence no expense had been spared in building the new restaurant.
The opening were delayed several times – but when it finally opened for booking in June it took 4 minutes to completely sell out the 2,000 available seats for the first three months. And people actually had to prepay the price of the menu at the time of booking. I wasn’t online during those first four minutes of booking so we didn’t get a seat for the first three months after the restaurant opened.
Later the restaurant got top reviews in a few Danish newspapers and it won the restaurant of the year in Denmark at the end of October – ahead of Geranium with three Michelin stars and a spot as number 5 on the worlds 50 best restaurants list and Noma which is actually located on the same street as Alchemist.
I guess it is fair to say we went to this restaurant with fairly high expectations for the evening to see what all the hype is about for ourselves and maybe judge if the food can live up to it all.
We get to the restaurant which is located in an old industrial area. The building used to house a part of the biggest Danish shipyard so it is a big building. We arrive at the outside which seems pretty abandon when we get there – no cars or bikes are out here. We get to the first feature of the restaurant which has been written about in the coverage of the restaurant – a 4 meter tall bronze door which weighs in at 2 tons.
We are standing at the door wondering how to open it – there is no visible door handle or anything which seems like it can open the door. But there is some music playing and we are pretty sure we are at the right spot – we just don’t know how to open the door and start our 50 course dinner.
After a bit of a wait the door starts to slowly open. There doesn’t seem to be anybody actually opening the door it just slowly move itself. Inside the door we are met by two staff members who immediately state my name and welcoming us. I guess the restaurant is so organized that we are the only people who are supposed to arrive at 18.45 tonight.
The staff at the door takes our jackets and tells us we will now start our night experience which is divided into 5 acts. The cooking here is a based on molecular cooking so nothing will really be what it appears to be and we might get some surprised during the night. We get our entrance tickets to the first act of the night they have different writing printed on them and are placed in a folder.
We go to New York – it is a medium sized room which is decorated like a scene from New York with the city landscape around the room. There is an actress or dancer in the room she isn’t saying anything just dancing a bit around the room – and has a ticket in a folder like us. She takes the ticket out of the folder and eats it. Apparently this is the first dish of the night an eatable ticket with individual quotes on them. After we have eaten the tickets the wall suddenly moves up and we have completed the first act of the night.
We get to another room where there are some comfortable seats. We get to sit right in front of the kitchen – it is a big kitchen bigger than what you find in many top end restaurants we have been to before. But this isn’t the main kitchen of the restaurant – it is the test kitchen which is used by the restaurant staff to try and develop new dishes for the menu. During the evening service the kitchen is used to make the pre-dinner snacks which we sit and enjoy while watching the kitchen.
The snacks start out with a flower which is almost liquid so you drink it the taste is pretty good. It is followed by a dish called greed – it looked fairly big but when you tried to bite into the dish it just disappeared in your mouth feeling like nothing and not tasting of much. Next up was a smoky ball – when they came with the balls there was no smoke – the smoke first appeared when you bite into the ball and realize the smoke was hidden inside the empty balls. After the balls they presented the wine list. It was pretty high tech coming on an I-pad and then instead of a traditional index you got different wheels which would take you through the extensive wine list.
Some of the snacks were actually presented by Rasmus Munk who is the head-chef and co-owner of the restaurant. With the number of snacks and dishes in general it shouldn’t be surprising our impression of them was a bit up and down. Next up was an Asian inspired snack in the form of a dumpling which was delicious. It was followed by an omelet which also was pretty good and then we got a snack called sunburnt which I forgot what tasted like. The snack session finished off by an eatable gin and tonic – I have had something like this before and it really never has been a success so I am not sure why restaurants keep trying to make this kind of dish.
By now we have finished off the snack session of the evening and will move into the main dining hall. We have to take the stair up and go through the wine cellar. The wine cellar is actually not a cellar but is housed in three sections of a total of 22 meters from top to bottom. The wine cellar is divided into three sections with the different types of wine. We go across a little glass bridge from where you can look down on the wines in the section below while you can look into another section of the wine cellar.
We get into the main dining hall which is most famous room in the restaurant. It is formed as a dome where you sit along kind of a bar disk while you eat. On the dome is a light showing going on while you sit and eat. There are different scenes being played out on the dome while we eat. It starts out with an under the sea scene with many different sea creatures moving along the screen. The under the sea scene is followed by scenes from Japanese sakura with falling cherry flowers, a scene with fireflies and finally aurora borealis.
We start the main part of the dinning this evening it is called the third act of the experience and since there are so many dishes during this act it is actually divided into five scenes with different parts of dinner.
They do save a bit on the dish washing at the restaurant since we do eat most of the dishes by hand. We get a few small starters with. The fifth of the starters are called plastic fantastic and is one of the most spoke about dishes. It is supposed to create awareness of the problems of plastic ending in our oceans. It is served on a plate which has a lot of old plastic waste inside a see through hard plastic. The dish is cod where the cod skin has been made to look like plastic. I guess the story is actually more interesting than the taste.
The last of the starters is called snow ball. And it is cold so it requires a little special utensil in the form of a pair of gloves. You eat the cold snowball by hand while you dip it in a little bit of olive oil. They don’t tell in advance what the snowball consist off and ask us to guess. It is difficult and we get different notes of flavor including tomato – which actually turns out to be correct as it is the main ingredients of the dish. It is strange to see a tomato dish coming out completely white.
We get to the second scene of the meal which consists of 4 dishes of mainly seafood.
We next get to the main courses. We start out with another signature dish – the tongue kiss. It is meant to raise awareness of tongue cancer. The dish is served on a tongue made of silicon and you are supposed to lick the food off the tongue which is a bit strange.
The tongue is followed by a dish called thinking outside the box which is sheep’s brain served on a small box. The next dish is a food for thoughts which is served inside a skull – the dish is foie grass – usually the foie grass is made by force feeding ducks. But in this case they get the foie grass from a supplier which harvests it from ducks during the migration where they kind of force feed themselves. We get a couple of more dishes in this section of main dishes.
We get another section of main dishes after this which consists of a total of another 8 dishes. There is one called the burnt out chicken which is presented as a couple of chicken feet sticking out of a small cage to create awareness of the life of a cage chicken in modern industrial agricultural production. There is also a dish which is pork with a bit of sauce coming from a syringe to create awareness of how much antibiotics is actually used in the production of pork in Danish agriculture.
By now we get to the desert section of the meal. The signature dish here is a banana which looks like the one on the Andy Warhol cover of Velvet Underground record – just because Rasmus is a fan. It actually tastes pretty good and might be the best of the four deserts. By this we leave the dome.
The next act is a tour through a strange room which is called the rainbow room. There is strange light in the room and we do get one little dish – a strangely coloured seahorse. After going through the rainbow room we get a little tour of the main kitchen where all the dishes to the main part of the dinner came from.
After we have left the kitchen we go up to a lounge upstairs where we can get coffee and tea and a few small petit fours. From up here we can see the top of the dome down below. The small treats are delicious and we finish out the meal with one called happy ending which is covered in eatable gold.
We finished the meal and it has been a special experience. I have only been to a very limited number of the top restaurants in the world – so I can’t really tell if the title of this review is correct. And Alchemist is really the wildest restaurant in the world. But when it comes to the lay out of the restaurant and the total setting of the restaurant it certainly is the wildest restaurant I have ever been to. For the food – I guess it depends on what you like it is fun with this molecular cooking but I guess deep down I probably would prefer some more standard cooking – hence I would classify this as the best food I have ever tasted.
The ambitions of the restaurant are certainly sky high. They clearly dream of getting three Michelin Stars one day and go to the top of the 50 best restaurants in the world list. Will Alchemist make it? It is hard to tell but I would be surprised if it doesn’t get at least one Michelin star in the 2020 addition of the Nordic Michelin Guide. And with all the hype of the restaurant it probably has a decent shot at going into the 50 best restaurants list as well.
Unfortunately dinning at a restaurant in Denmark which got 30 cooks and 20 waiters serving 40 guests a day do come at price. The total price of the dinner and drinks set us back about the same as a couple of return plane tickets to Asia.
Update on February 17, 2020. During the annual presentation of the Michelin Guide to the Nordic countries for 2020 Alchemist got 2 Michelin stars and the new Sustainability award as well.