Thursday, October 25, 2012
With all of the traveling I do, I try not to go back to the same place twice. At least not in two months. Which is why I didn’t expect to return to Denmark so soon after my last trip to Copenhagen. But given the number of amazing restaurants in the city, it’s hardly possible to try them all in one visit. Especially when some of them are the MASH restaurants in Copenhagen.
What are the MASH restaurants? They’re Modern American Steak Houses. In Denmark. I know. It’s strange. But it’s also really good.
MASH invited me to Denmark last week to eat at its three restaurants in Copenhagen in the run-up to the opening of its first dining establishment outside of the country. Yep, you guessed it; the restaurant is going to be in London. On Brewer Street. Opening on November 3rd.
And so for two days it was my job to eat steak. Lots of steak. (Vegetarians and vegans: you may want to stop reading now).
Upon arrival at Copenhagen airport, my group was whisked off to the first MASH restaurant of the trip. Located outside of the city in a seaside place called Skovriderkroen in Charlottenlund, the barn-like exterior looked American, the massive booth-filled interior felt American, and the list of Omaha beef and California wine had me tasting American before I even started my meal.
But we weren’t there to eat American steaks. No, not quite yet. We were there to try Danish steaks. Dry aged for 90 days, they were tender and a bit gamy. Less juicy than American beef, they were nonetheless flavorful. I was impressed.
I was also impressed with the starters and sides. Before the steaks came, every inch of our table was covered with plates of deep fried calamari, veal sweetbreads, and smoked salmon. I wasn’t a huge fan of the sweetbreads, but the salmon was excellent and the calamari divine with its chili and lime dipping sauce.
When the meat arrived, so did cast iron pots of comforting creamed spinach, sauteed corn with bacon, and the thickest, creamiest, most amazing Bearnaise sauce I’ve ever had.
As if I wasn’t in foodie heaven already, the bottle of Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley 2007 and its dark fruit aromas had me both satisfied and homesick for California’s wine country at the same time.
I left MASH in full food coma, but when we arrived at our next restaurant in Copenhagen, Le Sommelier, my wine stomach made room for more. It had to. We were still drinking Californian, and my stomach was as homesick as my palate.
Le Sommelier was one of MASH’s sister restaurants. An establishment in Copenhagen, it was all classic French, so please don’t tell your French friends that we drank American wines there.
First up was a Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs, a sparkling wine that rivalled any high quality French Champagne. I certainly hope so, anyway, given that the winery has been in business for 100 years and survived prohibition by claiming its bubbly had medicinal purposes (I do like the idea of medicinal sparkling wine…).
The second was a bottle of Williams Selyem Central Coast Pinot Noir 2010. If I’m a sucker for one varietal from one region, it’s California Pinot Noir. This particular bottle was no exception. Light but structured, fruity without being too jammy, it was a dream.
Speaking of dreams, when we checked into the Phoenix Hotel, all I wanted to do was take a post-lunch nap. Several hours later, I awoke to start round two of my steak-eating extravaganza at the second MASH restaurant in Copenhagen.
But first we went for cocktails. Around the corner from our hotel was another of MASH’s establishments, Umami. The sleek, hip interior was straight out of a Danish design magazine, and the bar was filled with people so beautiful that I almost wanted to touch them to make sure they were real.
After sipping the signature cocktail, we walked a few blocks down to MASH on Bredgade. The city center location was buzzing that evening, not least because it was one of the few restaurants open on a Monday night. As an added bonus, we had the honor of Rene Redzepi from Noma coming by our table to say hello (I’d like to think that it was because he recognized us, but I’m pretty sure it was because we were dining with one of the owners. Either way, foodie swoon).
But we weren’t there to eat ants and flowers. We were there to eat steak. Once again the table filled with starters, and everything from snails with garlic to linguine with tiger prawns, deliciously fresh oysters, and half a grilled lobster jockeyed for space.
When they were cleared, the Omaha beef arrived. From strip steaks to ribeye, we had ourselves a corn-fed American feast. The beef was mouth-wateringly good, and reminded me of how much I love classic (organic, pesticide free, insert-food-trend-of-the-nanosecond-here) American steaks.
And that’s to say nothing of classic American wines (have I said that before?). This time around we were graced with a magnum of Caymus “Special Selection” Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2008. Big and bold but smooth and silky, it was an absolute treat.
So were the mac and cheese and French fries. The former wasn’t quite up to my high American standards (more saturated fat, please!), but the latter were so good that I practically had to ask the server to take them away from me before I ate every last fry on the table.
At the end of it all, I was full, but I couldn’t resist a classic American cheesecake for dessert. I was a bit nervous to try it after all of the botched versions I’ve had outside of the US, but this one was spot on. Creamy but with just the right amount of texture, it was perfect.
And then I slept. And woke up. And made myself take a three-hour walk to work off approximately 0.01% of the calories I consumed the day before (you gotta start somewhere…).
At 1pm, my group left for the third and final MASH restaurant of our trip to Denmark: the MASH at Copenhagen airport.
Located behind security and one floor up from the main concourse, the restaurant was light, airy, and a quiet haven away from the bustle of the terminal. In short, it was the perfect place to have another steak.
After eating non-stop the day before, we were all a bit food fatigued. We went easy on the starters, heading straight for the main event. I ordered an Omaha ribeye, a side of chili fries, and a dish of Bearnaise sauce along with a glass of DuMOL Maranet Pinot Noir 2010 from my beloved Russian River.
The steak was a bit fattier than the two I had the previous day, and I preferred the regular fries to the chili ones, but I couldn’t complain overall. It was still the best airport food I’ve had, and a great place to while away the hours before a flight. And the cheesecake was just as good as the night before, too.
After the meal, I left Copenhagen with a heart as heavy as my stomach. But it wasn’t long before I got another little taste of MASH. The other day I got a private tour of the new MASH restaurant in London, and it looks every bit as big, bold, and beautiful as our magnum of Caymus.
The London MASH opens in a week, and with its American steaks and goal of having the largest selection of American wines in the UK, I already know that my first visit won’t be my last.