The absolute pinnacle of our recent culinary tour of Copenhagen was our fortuitous dinner at 108.
Having stumbled across a review of it and realising it was a new venture co-founded by Rene Redzepi of NOMA, a booking at 108 was a must!
We were not disappointed.
We arrived at the Christianshavn venue, just around the corner from
NOMA, to discover a space at once stripped-back but warm, efficient yet friendly. Simple decor combined with high ceilings and indoor apple trees combined to give the space a very carefully crafted balance of carefreeness and meticulous balance.
The menu carries the informality of the greeting (you are shown where to hang your own coats and welcomed to your table with a smile) through into the food, as it suggests choosing a selection of from the not extensive but diverse menu.
108 review – The Food…
This perfectly fits our attitude to dining – sharing, trying each others’ plates, and passing around! But if you aren’t someone who relishes the informality of shared plates, there is enough balance in the menu for you to choose a starter, main and dessert to keep just to yourself. The menu is intelligently flexible, not prioritising the innovation which it so clearly does privilege over the experience and enjoyment of the diner.
Between four, we decided to share the cured mackerel with salted gooseberries and an oil of spruce wood, as well as the caramelised milk skin pancake and grilled belly of pork for starters (accompanied by the flavoursome sourdough and lightly whipped butter quickly whisked onto our table). The mackerel I sadly could not sample (oh the pregnancy woes) but, unexpectedly, the salted gooseberry and spruce oil alone, on the bread, made a most heavenly mouthful. The only complaint about this dish from the others was that perhaps there could have been a little more gooseberry to balance the fish. It was a great start.
The caramelised milk skin was a must, having seen similar in our NOMA book. The waiter kindly advised wrapping it up like a tortilla
and attacking it that way, which we duly did. The menu description couldn’t do justice to the sweet and sour, fresh and sharp, fatty and rich filling which the milk skin elegantly brought together. I think this was my favourite dish…though the mains were about to challenge that.
For mains, we ordered from the ‘Livretter’ part of the menu. This bit asserts that:
“Livretter” is the danish word for your favorite dishes and we want to serve ours family-style. There’s a meat, fish or vegetable option, and we recommend one serving to be shared among two to four people.
Duly noted. We thus ordered half a shoulder of roast lamb (there was the option to order the whole shoulder, for a bigger party of people or a party who all wanted the same), plus 400g of grilled monkfish (again, there was an 800g option).
They came to the table looking surprisingly similar, for such different proteins! The meat and fish were brought separate from their accompaniments, which meant that the astounding beauty of the starters was not quite maintained but meant that all four of us could properly sample both, which, again, prioritised the dining experience. Both were spectacular in the mouth.
The roast lamb was served with soft new onions, tinged with herby green, and fragrant blackcurrant leaves. The lamb itself had been slow-cooked in a thick and molasses-sticky smoked butter sauce, with elderberry capers. Its salty-sweet-richness was cut through by the onion and blackcurrant leaf combination, and I never wanted it to end.
I did, though, wish I’d delayed the lamb – those who tried the monkfish first said that some of its subtlety was overpowered by the lamb dish. Well, even having eaten it second, it was a joy to behold. Served with
cabbage cooked in chamomile, a strange but perfect
combination, and a sauce of mussels, the massive hunk of monkfish we tucked into was, similarly, perfectly cooked, just firm enough to flake from the bone without having lost any of its succulence. It was a real “we need more bread for this” situation. Luckily, at 108, you only have to ask.
For dessert, we had to go for one of each from the menu – that meant, a sourdough cone filled with ice cream, a rausu kombu icecream, and a raspberry and rose dessert with fudge.
The sourdough cone was served with wild blueberries, and sprinkled with flowers, epitomising the end of summer in a refreshing mouthful of fruit-sweet flavours and the gentle sourdough taste of the cone.
Next the rausu kombu ice cream. Rausu kombu is actually a type of seaweed! Its salty, sea quality comes through, somehow without it being completely out of place in a dessert pairing with toasted barley and blackcurrant wood oil.
Again, the aromatic oil really pulled the flavours of the dish together. This dessert looked as beige as beige could be, and not entirely exciting, but looks can be very deceiving – I think it was the most pioneering, and exciting-tasting, of all three desserts.
Our final choice was ‘raspberries and rose’, in which an oaten crisp, dusted with dried raspberry and rose, obscured lumps of sweet rich fudge grouped around the plate with spoonfuls of rose granita.
This wasn’t quite as innovative as it looked (raspberry, rose and chocolate being a rather tried-and-tested combination), but that is not to say it didn’t work and taste brilliant, with the rich smooth fudge contrasting icy granita and brittle crisp on the palate.
We enjoyed lots of, mostly natural and organic, wines (well, I tasted a sip of all of them, but yet again, baby requested no over-indulgence on my part). The Sangiovese “Vecchia Botte” was a particular stand-out red, whilst the Gruner Veltliner white and the Rififi (Domaine Bobinet) bubbles went down a storm.We finished with an acquavit, which (though, again, I only sipped) was amazing – it didn’t have that alcohol burn, and had a distinct, botanical flavour (and, for a spirit amateur like me, that’s saying something). Sorry, the name eludes me – but the great staff will no doubt guide you to a choice that best fits your palate, anyway.
108 provides an amazing balance between informality and the utmost care. All four of us said that it was the most memorable meal we had had in a long while; perhaps even ever. And that is saying a lot for a bunch of
food maniacs like us! Rene Redzepi himself was even in the restaurant whilst we were there, enjoying dinner with his family whilst checking up on the remarkably smoothly-running, efficient kitchen (which you can see through the glass paned doors) and the smiling, friendly staff. I may have taken a sneaky picture. Sorry Rene – I didn’t want to interrupt his family evening but couldn’t miss the opportunity to take a pic of one of the most innovative chefs in the whole world!
Everybody looked really chuffed to be there – diners and staff alike. I’m not surprised.