I have wanted to try Amass since it opened in August 2013 after hearing about the departure of, at that time, the head chef of Noma. The hype of Amass is shaped around Matt Orlando, the founder, who after a long and successful career at top kitchens decided to walk his own path with full support from René Redzepi. Apart from Noma he also used to work at Le Bernardin (NYC), Fat Duck (UK) and Per Se (NYC), an impressive list even for the most experienced professional.
The experience Matt brings to Amass is most likely only found in the food. Located across the water from the city center in a warehouse-like space little hints that the open kitchen prepares one of the most exciting menus in Copenhagen. The easiest way to get there is by boat from Nyhavn. The tall ceiling of the spacious dining room wrapped with concrete walls creates a relaxed openness. There is also plenty of design items scattered around the room like Masculo Lounge Chairs around dining tables and Cobra Lamps on the walls. Outside the restaurant is the garden where many of the herbs and greens found in the food are cultivated.
We were the first guests to arrive for lunch. As lunch progressed we were joined by more diners, some also carrying big cameras. Cutlery were provided in metal boxes in the middle of the table.
No cutlery were set up for this course so hands were the only way to dig in. It felt a bit like eating Indian in Asia but a less messy version. Flavours were light and fresh.
This is one of the best breads I’ve had in a restaurant. It came scorching hot and is baked on fermented potato flour and then grilled leaving a charred flavour. The texture was firm and compact with a nice resistance. With it came an onion compote. A nice departure from the standard (but very good) sourdough bread often served in Copenhagen restaurants.
Visually pleasing plate of light ingredients. The thin wafer was made of dried yoghurt. Underneath it hides white asparagus and roasted walnuts. A well balanced dish but not the most memorable one this lunch.
This chicken skin dish started as a joke in the Amass kitchen of building a tower of chicken skin. It evolved into a full dish incorporating the somewhat weird but funny take on chicken skin. The skin has been pan fried before it’s stacked together and deep fried. On the plate it’s soaked in a stock of smoked fish. The tangy, peppery notes of the Lady’s Smock creates a refreshing break. This was one of my favourites.
The staff were dressed in blue denim shirts, black jeans and sneakers, street style a la Copenhagen.
Interestingly the wines by the glass we had all came in Jeroboams. The wine glasses from Zalto deserves a special mention.
Next was a vegetarian dish with potato as the main character. The cherry potato has been cooked for a long time before it’s dried, creating a very interesting texture. I really loved the almond emulsion and the pickled lemon as a side kick. Humble ingredients turns into one of the best dishes this lunch.
The main was pork cheek. Pork is used widely in Danish food which is reflected in how often I’ve seen it served in restaurants. Here it has been braised for 18 hours and then glazed in brown butter. The result is very tender meat and wonderful flavours. The accompanying sauce was made with virgin butter, a butter that carries more acidity than normal butter, adding freshness to the dish. I also liked the idea to use unripe strawberries which otherwise usually belongs in a dessert rather than a main course.
Rosemary and rhubarb might sounds like an odd pair but it works strangely well. The grape seed oil in which the rosemary has been blended into coats every spoonful of vibrant flavours that goes into the mouth. The chocolate from the Danish chocolate maker Oialla by Rasmus Bo Bojesen is worth solitary enjoyment but sadly becomes second priority in this wonderful dish.
The meal ends on a sweet note, again involving a herb. The oregano note is very light, barely noticeable. The small cakes that I would rather call muffins were soft with a crunchy crust.
Just outside the restaurant many of the herbs and greens used in the food are grown.
Matt Orlando has hit it just right with Amass, balancing the depth and precision of the food with a casual approach to dress code and environment. It’s fine dining without the tense atmosphere. Funky tunes were streaming out of the speakers in the dining room decorated with graffiti art.
The food was well executed and the menu well crafted showcasing the potential of Nordic ingredients and approach to food. I have difficulties picking a favourite dish because all were about the same level but a couple I will remember for a while is the chicken skin dish, the potato bread and the rhubarb/rosemary dessert.
If in Copenhagen Amass is definitely worth a detour. It’s also a good opportunity to catch a performance in the Copenhagen Opera House which is one stop away by boat.
For more photos from Amass, please visit my Flickr set.
Tel. +45 4358 4330