TravelNoise: Bror, Copenhagen, Denmark
It’s not every night I nosh on dick. Crispy dick, to be precise, swiftly followed by butt and balls. I hope my Mum’s not reading this.
Before your dirty minds run away with you, this was no Blackfriars railway arch, but BROR, fixture of Copenhagen’s nose-to-tail dining scene since chef-patrons Sam Nutter and Victor Wågman opened house in 2013. Back then, the buzz was about two former Noma sous chefs venturing solo to offer Noma know-how in more democratic style. And now?
Still the mismatched chintzy tableware, still the paper napkins and cutlery in tubs on the table, saying “none of your fancy-pants here”, though I hope there’s some of that to come from the kitchen. Diana Ross hollers “I’m coming out!”, opening the disco soundtrack to the night, perkily oblivious to the crown jewels on the stove.
BROR pulls its signature punches first. Snacks of Crispy Dick with Ramson Crème Fraîche, Bull’s Balls with Tartare Sauce, Glazed Uterus Smørrebrød and Chicken Butts were less challenging in the mouth than in the mind. Think foreskin blasted to prawn-cracker-like clouds, succulently breadcrumbed slices of gland, and not butthole but parson’s nose smacking roastily of chicken skin.
Baked Cod’s Head arrived. “Shall I be mother?” As I prised rare cheek from the skull, a fat eyeball plopped all-seeingly onto the table top. We seasoned the cheek with black garlic, crispy cod skin and horseradish salt and wrapped it taco-style in cabbage leaves whose mustardy raw crunch overwhelmed the delicate flesh.
A truffly dish of Hake Boudin and Celeriac, both in disguise as petite scallops, delighted. Gorgeous Creamed Potato topped with Beef Lung and Melted Prästost cheese was a hearty indulgence. Then chef Ben appeared, lifted a pan lid, and through the steam our main course of Lamb Head grinned at us toothily.
Its Whipped Brain dabbed in fried sprigs of Reindeer Moss was gutsily Noma-esque. Carpaccio of Eyeball and Carrot was a dish to tell the grandkids you once ate. Genuinely delicious was its darkly braised cheek, to be wrapped in softest flatbread with the crunch of pickled cabbage and kale and the caramel richness of brown butter and black garlic.
Whenever I packed away seconds of pudding, my gran cracked that tired old line about hollow legs. Who knew cows had them too, and ate seconds of crème brulée? The beefy hint in Bone Marrow Crème Brulée, served in the bones it must have grown in, came offset by the autumnal spice of quince sorbet. An Apple and Caramel Tart with pushy Chai Ice Cream came a definite second, for all its perfect russet pastry.
Against the quick-fire dishes we were glad the wine pairs came gently. Favourites were Marc Tempé’s Riesling Saint-Hippolyte 2014, offering vibrant honeyed fruit for the hake, and Mario Minucci’s Barbera d’Asti 2013, supple and unwooded against the Lamb Cheek.
After all the booze, I nip for a tactical. Pinned to the gents’ black walls, a snap of grinning jack o’lanterns warns that “Something’s scary in the state of Denmark”. Now you tell me! But no, I protest too much. Sometimes fancy-pants, sometimes scary, and 595 DKK for the set menu (wine pairing 425 DKK), BROR is a showcase of invention and care for often unloved flavours and produce. And I didn’t make a single dick joke all night. Scout’s honour.