TravelNoise: Väkst, Copenhagen, Denmark
They say Paris is the city of love. Tosh! A man’s heart is won through his stomach, and Copenhagen wins mine hands down. And when on a wintry Danish night this hungry traveller’s heart wanted a flutter, I headed for the verdant groves of Väkst, where there’s cheekiness rustling in the bushes.
Nowt to do with parks at twilight, thank you very much, but the newest opening from Cofoco, capable patron of a dozen or so restaurants across the city, crowned to my mind by Höst and Cofoco, which offer accessible new Nordic cooking in all senses. As Höst means ‘warmth’ so Väkst means ‘growth’, and speaking of growth why not plonk a greenhouse smack bang middle of the dining room? That’s how Väkst rolls, and with its garlands of lights conjuring up some summery pagoda and its walls decked with greenery, it’s a veritable lovers’ bower.
The welcome is warm and has a naughty sense of humour. “In the bushes”, our waitress begins with a twinkle of her eye, “you have Celeriac Crisps with a Truffle Cream.” Being a puerile lot, we snigger as we rustle through a pot of living thyme for the oaky crisps. A Crémant de Bourgogne – a pinot noir better than many a Champagne – works wonders for our tittering. Salted Salmon Broth with Herbal Olive Oil and Salmon Roe cleans away the truffly fug with sharply pickled shades of apple and verbena. Better to pass over less lovely snacks of cold beetroot slivers with chicken liver and clammy Jerusalem artichoke with cod’s roe.
Back on point, cured and barely shown the pan, Scallops in Smoked Potato Soup with Mussels, Pickled Onions, Chive and Potato Chips set glossy rich sauce against lightly pickled alium with a tenderness every lonely heart craves. A 2015 Etwo from Abruzzo’s Tenuto Terraviva provided a lightly wooded citrus ding to the scallops’ gentle dong.
“Here we have a sort of fuzzy squid.” The twinkly waitress again. She meant the label on a 2015 Galgenberg by Gruber Röschitz, a supple pinot noir that offered a rush of red fruit and glacé cherry for our Pork Cheeks with Celeriac, Hazelnuts, Horseradish, Pork Crackling and Raw Ruben Apple. A touch of anise, I’m sure, and chervil fronds too brought liquorice notes to the adorably chubby porcine cheek draped in a thin celeriac slice.
Then came the indecent proposal: Sorbet of Pear and Verveine, White Chocolate Mousse and Herbal Chocolate. If the Milky Bar Kid and the Black Magic Man ever had a lovechild who lurked in the undergrowth to bewitch the sweet-toothed, this was he. Alongside, old-school sweetshop notes of rhubarb and custard, pineapple and peach from a golden 2015 Zanto Beerenauslese sealed our fate.
As we dozed off into hyperglaecemic bliss, we had Willy Wonka dreams of marshmallows perched on liquorice roots, madeleines dunked in almond custard, and a fizzy fumble with rocky road’s posh cousin, known here as salted chocolate biscuit with blackcurrant powder.
Sniggering aside, for all its fuzzy squid and rustling bushes, Väkst is a surefire hit, with a steady hand in the kitchen and an adorably kooky air of the glasshouse, even if its evening menu is a bit of a pinch at DKK 595. Send a billet doux to your bit on the side, and come misbehave among the rampant greenery. No-one’s looking.
Address: Sankt Peders Stræde 34, 1453 København K, Denmark
Telephone Number: +45 38 41 27 27