Amass is a restaurant opened by Noma’s previous chef de cuisine, Matt Orlando, earlier in the summer of this year. It is located in a old shipbuilding neighborhood in a very quiet part of Copenhagen. The restaurant has been one of the most difficult restaurants to get into in Copenhagen since it opened.
one of the chef’s picks some produce in front of the restaurant during service
Julian: So we couldn’t get a reservation to Amass. But we found out that they do reserve a few tables for a limited number of walk-ins. So we decided to just get there earlier than any sane person would ever show up. We made the hour-long trek from central Copenhagen to Amass, through a sort of other-worldly neighborhood. Remember that book The Giver? It reminded me of that. There was also this inverted see-saw playground structure that was one of the most fun toys in the world that we played on for awhile. But back to the restaurant.
a rare sight at amass–an empty dining room
Jesse: Wait wait, I feel like I’d be cheating you of some amazing secret if I didn’t tell you more about this thing. This see-saw was undoubtedly the coolest playground toy I’ve ever used. Just so you understand–we’ll post a picture of it here (not the best pic)– it basically enables two young man-boys, like Julian and I, to jump 12 feet into the air using the other person’s weight while holding onto this contraption for dear life. I’ve vowed to bring this back to the states. But, Amass, this is about Amass. Upon arriving, as Julian said, absurdly early, we asked the young lady cook grilling on the big green egg outside, with smokey tears streaming down her face, how to put our name on the list. We were instructed to go up the stairs outside the restaurant, to then follow a sign to go down the stairs inside the restaurant, where we encountered a bustling staff vacuuming floors and arranging tables. The restaurant is essentially one giant open space: a dining area which flows smoothly into open kitchen, bar, and even offices upstairs. The walls are concrete, and one wall is almost completely covered in graffiti art. Looking out the oversized glass windows which run along another entire wall we can see the sun setting over one of the many canals that run through Copenhagen, and, dun dun dun…the MAD symposium tents. More on that later.
the world’s greatest playground toy
Julian: While waiting for them to open, we met some other early-comers. Most notably, Derina and J.R., from Ballymaloe (http://www.ballymaloe.ie/) in Ireland. Turns out, they were also going to MAD. We struck up conversation with them, and we’ve decided that we MUST go to Ballymaloe as soon as we get enough money to make it back to Europe (which could be years). It sounds like an incredible place. Okay, to the meal. First, I’ll talk about their bread course. We’ve found that interesting bread courses really spice things up. White bread and butter just doesn’t cut it anymore. At Amass, they do this dense fermented potato flatbread, grilled outside. It tastes remarkably like a grilled cheese or a quesadilla, but has no cheese in it. With the flatbread they served us a sort of chimichurri, but made with artichoke leaves, chard, lemon, and olive oil. I couldn’t get enough of it. So good.
Jesse: The servers wore tight black skinny jeans, some of them a little too tight, complete with button-up jean shirts and suspenders. This restaurant was doing almost everything in the trendy book, but for some reason, it didn’t bother me as much as it could have. A St. John’s wort sandwich was our first course. 4 of them actually. The succulent leaves that snapped when you bit into them, sandwiched creme freche and other delicious things that slip my mind right now (possibly because of the 2 drunk German dudes who are past their prime, drinking beer in the hostel hallway and blasting shitty trance music on their blown out iPhone speakers). Anyhow the little sandwiches were packed with fresh flavor and I enjoyed them enough to note them here.
Julian: Another course that sticks out in my mind is the chicken skin dish we got. Basically, they took “exactly 140 layers” of chicken skin, compressed them, cooked them like a terrine, then sliced them like tiny slices of very thickly cut bacon. Damn, I thought when they described the dish. Why hadn’t I ever thought of that? Maybe because I haven’t been the head chef of the best restaurant in the world. However, despite the great idea, the chicken skins weren’t browned. This was unfortunate, as the dish was really rich but lacked a certain complexity. Another dish we both loved was this poached egg yolk, served in a grass-flavored broth with virgin butter. This virgin butter made the dish really special. Produced by Swedish dairy farmer Patrik Johansson (who we actually very briefly met this farmer at MAD the next day), the butter is intensely acidic and barnyard-like. All in a good way, of course. The dish as a whole, with the deep orange yolk and sweet grass broth, just made me think of a picturesque Danish farm in the countryside.
smushed ice cream
Jesse: The egg dish was definitely my favorite. Our dessert was smushed milk ice cream. I say smushed because the ice cream was smushed onto the side of the bowl, which was a fun presentation of ice cream I haven’t seen before. The ice cream was made without eggs, just milk and cream with some stabilizers, frozen into the perfect milky deliciousness. Amass, in all, was a great restaurant experience. Great food, cool vibe (although maybe borderline overkill to some), friendly service, and an energy that only comes with being an exciting new restaurant. We left Amass with our bellies content, new friends made, and totally pumped for MAD.
post-dessert muffins…flavored with caraway and served with plum jam