Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

FANCY A GAME OF HUNT THE MORSEL? A New Danish Venture Offers Food That Echoes the Strange; Creations of Copenhagen's Noma -- Just Don't Forget a Magnifying Glass

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

FANCY A GAME OF HUNT THE MORSEL? A New Danish Venture Offers Food That Echoes the Strange; Creations of Copenhagen's Noma -- Just Don't Forget a Magnifying Glass

Article excerpt

Byline: Fay Maschler RESTAURANT OF THE WEEK

NORTH ROAD 69-73 St John Street, EC1 (020 3217 0033, northroadrestaurant.co.uk). Lunch Mon-Fri noon-2.30pm; dinner Mon-Sat 6-10.30pm (11pm Fri & Sat). Lunch menu [pounds sterling]18/[pounds sterling]20 for two/three courses. Five-course tasting menu [pounds sterling]55. A la carte meal for two with wine, about [pounds sterling]110 including 12.5 per cent service CHRISTOFFER Hruskova, chef-patron of the newly opened restaurant North Road, was born in the town of Odense in Denmark, also the birthplace of Hans Christian Andersen, immortalised (in my head, anyway) by Danny Kaye in the eponymous movie. Also a cobbler of a kind, Hruskova worked in Copenhagen's Michelin-starred restaurant Kong Hans before travelling the world stitching together inspiration from kitchens as far flung as Tetsuya in Sydney and Jardiniere in San Francisco.

In London, Hruskova opened Fig in Barnsbury in 2006. Latterly the cooking at Fig began to attract slightly half-baked comparisons with Noma in Copenhagen, "the world's best restaurant", whose chef, Rene Redzepi, had also worked at Kong Hans. By the way, Fig is now Fig Bistro with a relatively conventional menu made more mysterious by its vocabulary. Scallops with aebleflaesk turns out to be scallops with apples.

Having eaten at Noma between meals at Fig and North Road, I can state that the influence is now strong, even if not quite the style parodied by John Crace in a quote from his Digested Read of the Noma cookbook: "Bouillon of steamed birchwood, chanterelles and fresh hazelnut. Chop down one 12m birch tree and soak in an ice bath to lock in the flavours. Then boil for seven days until it is soggy. Macerate the remaining branches and boil for a further 10 days. Force the pulp through a fine sieve, then reduce until just 50ml remains. Add some chanterelles and garnish with a hazelnut."

A North Road first course of Kent vegetables and wild herbs was tamer

and -- I would imagine -- slightly tastier than the fictional birch branch assembly, but the mixture of chunks of Pink Fir Apple potatoes and Jerusalem artichokes anchored to the plate with a vegetable puree topped with shaved black truffle were surrounded with a crunchy rubble of caramelised wheat that vividly brought to mind Redzepi's malt "soil".

The little freebie -- I need the Danish word for that -- of a ceramic egg lined with hay cradling pickled quails' eggs, fish skin, pork skin and maybe chicken skin demonstrated almost word-perfect mimicry. Lightly smoked diver-caught Scottish scallops with slender batons of apple, cress and hazelnuts was subtle and lovely, the best of the three starters tried at dinner, but the amount would have satisfied an elf -- or maybe Andersen's Thumbelina. …

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