For Uformel restaurant in Copenhagen, life’s too short to pickle elderflowers. Ants, ox marrow and tree bark won’t be on the menu either. With the U prefix heading off on its own, at a jaunty tangent, this is a restaurant with attitude. “No dogmas” is the provocative credo of this uber-cool destination that counters the charge of New Nordic cuisine.
Need a Danish – English translation? Uformel means informal. The youngster strikes out independently from the same stable as the Michelin-starred Formel B restaurant.
No surprise then that Uformel is currently putting on its own Andy Warhol style exhibition. Renovations above the restaurant wrap the building in scaffolding. Not a problem. Just an opportunity for a vivid, vibrant mural straight from the Batman school of cartooning.
Byhaven is definitely on a socially mobile upward curve. Once a strip-club, then a meat-packing warehouse, Uformel’s high-ceilinged home is all part of the area’s leafy regeneration.
Formel B was part of the original Nordic Food revolution. Back in 2004, 14 Nordic chefs, declared a culinary 10 point manifesto. Local produce, seasonality and environmental concern were at the heart of their mantras. It was a holier-than-thou aesthetic. A culinary crusade that aimed to make the most of the Nordic terroir: gooseberries were pickled, mushrooms were foraged and vegetables took centre stage. Some foodies saw it as a sort of neotribalism.
But Uformel is the younger brother kicking against the traces: an edgy character who has travelled a bit and knows there’s far more to food than being a hunter-gatherer on the frozen shores of the Baltic.
The Uformel chefs have seen the world, smelt the truffles, tasted the sun-dried tomatoes and even sprinkled pepper on their dishes. They know that there is more to food than just gathering what you can forage from frozen Scandinavian lands. Also, there is a belief that the New Nordics were taking themselves a little too seriously.
Appropriately the ambience at Uformel is informal with an urban post-industrial chic: polished taupe concrete and bold as brass, filament-raw, light fittings.
With a nod to the meat-packing heritage, young stuff rock the retro butcher look with heavy-duty aprons, jeans and trainers. Black-tables and mysterious dark chasms create night-club overtones but remember this is Denmark. You’ve gotta have candles for the hygge. The bright brilliance of a backlit wall of a wine cellar shines through the darkness.
The four-course tasting menu showcases Uformel’s fusion of Nordic sensibilities and cosmopolitan adventure. Once pickling was a way of preserving summer’s plenty for winter’s austerity but at Uformel its a technique to develop flavour too. Pickled silver slithers of mackerel combine with oyster cream as a reminder of the Dane’s inventive survival instinct, flavours so subtle that they do not overwhelm a dry white Alsace wine pairing.
The New Nordics would throw their spatulas down in horror at the next course. A light Pinot Noir paired with a lattice of sun-dried tomatoes wrapping Danish beef tartar: far too Mediterranean, far too passionately Latin.
Although there is again a meat theme to the third course, Uformel is equally adept at pleasing vegans. But for now, a porchetta of lamb arrives topped with pickled mushrooms and accompanied by meaty spring peas. A robust Italian red is another ideal pairing.
For most of us selecting from the world’s vast array of wines to match starters and mains is almost always a case of Information Overload. By the time the dessert menu arrives wine matching is best left to a professional sommelier. The recommendation of a sparkling but not too sweet French rosé is perfect for a light confection of Danish strawberries and a delicately flavoured elderflower sorbet.
Maybe Uformel isn’t quite as radical as the life-size cartoons would lead you to expect. There is a strong respect for traditional ingredients, and most of the sourcing is local too, but if there’s an opportunity to bring in flavour from afar the kitchen is never afraid to hoist the revolutionary banners again.
Tell Me More About Uformel Restaurant
Uformel Restaurant Studiestræde 69 1554 København V Denmark CVR 3580 7934
T: +45 70 999 111 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
4 courses selected by the kitchen with wine pairing and filtered water is 800 DKK (around £96) per person.