Guests sit rather tightly packed in the lively restaurant, where the menu and drinks are presented elegantly in bound books, reflecting the great effort and attention dedicated to ensuring a memorable dining experience. The book about the dishes also reveals the kitchen’s affinity for local ingredients, while the wine book features profiles of the curated winemakers. The five-course menu begins with an ultra-tender lamb carpaccio with fresh acidic rhubarb that goes nicely with an elegant hazelnut cream and crisp shredded hazelnut. The delicate lobster bisque with the familiar intense flavour of the crustacean’s rich sweetness contains fresh langoustine tails with the taste of the sea, crème fraîche and chive oil, and is paired perfectly with a crisp and mineral riesling 2014 from the Alsace winemaker Leon Beyer. Arriving next on attractively arranged plates is lamb shoulder on the bone, cooked for twelve hours in Carls Special beer at 90°C and then roasted in the oven for one hour at 200°C. The coarse-fibred, juicy and rich meat is served with poached egg, celeriac purée, root vegetables and a delicate fatty lamb jus. The next serving offers a choice between cod or lamb loin. The flavour of the lamb fully justifies the fact that, even here i Tórshavn, Faroese lamb is more highly prized than that from New Zealand. The freshly roasted pink meat has exquisite structure and taste, with the fine accompaniment of small new potatoes in their skins, blanched herbs and jus. A range of dessert options are offered for the finale. We sample a rhubarb compote with roasted nuts and whipped cream, which is a bit tame. But the well-executed liquorice ice cream served with a brownie has pure anise notes to balance the cocoa flavour, and is adroitly paired with a characteristically oaky and creamy sweet Ximénez-Spínola sherry.
Adgangen til det intime stemningsfyldte lokale, med klippen som en naturlig del af væggene, sker fra en lille naturstensbelagt gyde, hvor der tørres torsk under tagudhængene. På menuen er flere ’deleretter’, så her er det helt naturligt, at man ’smager hos hinanden’. Køkkenchefens fortolkning af latinamerikansk ceviche - en velafstemt kold fiskesalat på rå havtaske marineret i citronsaft med chili og koriander serveret med rødløg og hasselnødknas – er et komplekst smagspotpourri, der sætter barren højt. Dampet hestemusling med let rødligt kød og smag hen ad sin blå artsfælle serveres med stegt ramsløg på ristet brød – enkelt, men elegant. Bacalao, spansk for udvandet klipfisk af torsk, rørt op med lækre nye kartofler, smør, som tilfører fedme, salt, peber og bredbladet persille, er en rustik, lidt bastant, men indbydende ret, med en klokkeren fiskesmag. Fast hvidt fedtfattigt kød af dampet kuller har en fin let koncentreret torskesmag, der matches af en sart romesco, som især bæres af grillet peberfrugt, mandler og soltørrede tomater. Disse indledende øvelser matches af en 2015 Kremser Sandgrube på grüner veltliner fra østrigske Krems - en tør, mineralsk sag med en fast grøn syrestruktur. To ting på menuen må du ikke gå glip af, det ene er torskehovedsuppen med karamelliserede løg og safran, hvor den sarte fiskesmag indgår i en symbiose med karamel, afdæmpet løgsmag og filigran safrannoter, mens det andet er nye kartofler med skræl og traditionel baskisk pil pil-sauce med perfekt konsistens lavet på klipfisk, udvandet så saltet har trukket sig, hvidløg, jomfruolivenolie og en smule chili - stedets svar på naturens egen sauce bearnaise. På Barbara tør køkkenchefen gå sin egen vej, og det sker helt uden slinger.
KOKS explores and experiments with the untapped possibilities inherent in the surrounding Faroese landscape of sea, fjords, fields, meadows, and beaches, while practicing traditional fermentation methods and seeking sublime culinary experiences with respect for vulnerable species and the environment. The restaurant decor features plank flooring, lambskin on the chairs and oak tables free of tablecloths or pressed napkins, with a breathtaking panoramic view to the surroundings outside. All of the dishes are rooted in local traditions and ingredients. Fish, sheep, seaweed (complete with parasites) and herbs are caught, harvested or fermented daily, just a few hundred metres from the kitchen. Live shellfish are kept in the restaurant’s underwater pantry. The menu comprises 19 unforgettably delicate courses, all of which demonstrate extreme Faroese gastronomic savvy, in addition to a wine list stocked with superbly paired top wines from renowned winemakers in strong vintages. Head Chef Poul Andrias Ziska presents the dishes himself, while Head Sommelier Karin Visth selects and presents the drinks, including wines and the incomparable range of non-alcoholic drinks that she brews herself to match the menu’s potpourri of unconventional flavours. Ocean quahog garnished with dried elderflower is served on the shell in a purée of its own meat and mushroom sauce. The taste of sea from the raw clam is counterbalanced by the oily morel notes and elderflower acidity of the sauce. Fried swim bladder of cod with a cream of leek and ramson is decoratively served on cod vertebrae. The swim bladder is crisp and light as a pork rind without the fat, offering the generous pure flavour of cod, while the ramson’s notes of garlic and the leek’s creaminess hold contrasts in taste and texture. Both fish and lamb are traditionally fermented in the Faroe Islands in a so-called hjallur (a wind-blown shed) where they change in structure, aroma and flavour. “Ræstur” is the half-dried stage this meat reaches after three months. A soup of ræst lamb is served with roasted mealworms, crisp slices of kohlrabi, radish, onion and carrot. The aromas in the steam bash through one’s senses with notes of rancid lamb fat, while the strong flavour packs deep umami tones. Garnatálg is the lining surrounding the lamb’s intestines and stomach, fermented for three months in a net of the lamb’s caul fat. It is served as a bright and appetising layer atop the fermented then boiled ræst fish. These delights are eaten on a traditional Faroese biscuit called a góðarað. The flavour is intense, pure cod with the garnatálg serving as an able substitute for butter in both taste and texture. Northern fulmar is a sea bird that breeds on the wind-blown cliffs of the Faroese coastline. When they fly from the nest, the chicks are so fat that they splash into the sea and can then be fished up by boat. As the flapping of wings has not yet toughened the breast, the pink roasted meat is extremely tender, with a coarse fibre structure and distinctive fish flavour, while the fat cap has strong notes of whale oil. These flavours are matched well by boiled, burnt and dried beetroot. Crisp candied stalks of angelica, which grows and thrives on the windy islands, is served as candy under the moniker confiture d’angélique. These so-called "candies" full of vitamin C, aromatically spiced and fresh, yet sweet with notes of fresh quince and candied citrus peel. One is rarely on familiar grounds here, yet a secure feeling of being safely in the hands of a master reigns throughout this culinary voyage.
Ræst is among the small enclave of restaurants in Tórshavn that excel in traditional Faroese cuisine. You can count on an experience that will get completely under your skin – and on your clothes. Upon entering the centuries-old wooden house, you are immediately bombarded with the pungent smell of fermented fish and lamb that sticks to – and remains on – your skin, hair and clothes. We are welcomed by the chefs, who also serve as waiters and sommeliers; they escort us through a couple of low-ceilinged, homey rooms with crooked doorways where classic Faroese decor combines with beautifully set dining tables. The five-course menu is firmly rooted in local traditions and ingredients, including a confoundingly airy and delicate lamb blood sausage cake with a cream of cod hung to age for three months, mixed with stilton cheese and angelica, giving the clearly fermented cod sharpness and acidity, which in turn is balanced by the sweet pickled raisins. It’s a cavalcade of flavours with amazing lightness, and the harmony is completed by a complex ale with fresh bitter notes, KOKS Ræst Fisk by Mikkeller. The next dish features exquisite skerpikjøt, a wind-dried lamb hung for eight months whose appearance and taste is incontrovertibly in the same league as pata negra, together with slices of a fatty, roasted sausage with significant umami notes from offal. The dish is also accompanied by egg cream with beer-pickled seaweed, sunflower seeds and Dijon mustard. After having enjoyed this dish, the chef informs us that we have eaten sperðil: pan-fried slices of fermented lamb sausage stuffed in its own intestines and made with the tallow surrounding the intestines. The dish of pork fat and meat is very beautifully arranged – and highly delicate. The dessert with angelica is also deftly executed. For novices in controlled rancidity, the odour and certain dishes require some acclimation, but the visit is highly recommended as a historical, cultural and culinary experience for life.
With over 100 Masters Level restaurants, the Nordic countries offer a wide variety of excellent culinary experiences. The Top 30 are all at the Global Masters level and they include some of the best restaurants in the world.