There a certainly job positions that are harder to succeed than others. I believe Damian Quintana will agree. A couple of months ago, he was announced as the new head chef at the one Michelin-starred restaurant Studio in Copenhagen. He was about to take over from Torsten Vildgaard, a living legend within the new Nordic cuisine. Torsten Vildgaard worked as the creative head chef at Noma for five years before he decided to go solo and open Studio in October 2013. Studio received a Michelin star already four months later and it has been maintained ever since.
Therefore, it was quite a surprise when Vildgaard announced that he was leaving Studio to become a member of the Noma team once again. Who was about to take over as head chef at a restaurants that was even part-owned by Vildgaard himself?
Damian Quintana was the answer. The Chilean chef has worked for Torsten at Studio as well as other top establishments in Copenhagen but never as a head chef – could he handle the job? I needed to find out so I visited Studio in November.
Top service and comfort
The decor looks the same. The decor is still Nordic, yet warm, the tableware is still build around the beautiful plates and bowls made by K. H. Würtz ceramics and the service is still impeccable. It is run by Morten Magh, who to our joy has returned to Copenhagen after a couple of years in New York at Wine Director at the two Michelin-starred Atera. To my opinion, Morten Magh’s service is perfectly balanced between formal knowledge about the food and wine and a more informal, relaxed way of handling his guests. This combination makes you feel safe and relaxed from the very beginning.
The menu (DKK 1,300) is consisting of a good handful of delicious, very precise appetizers and seven bigger courses and I’ll go straight to the conclusion: There was no low at any point of the meal – it just kept getting better and better, and I can easily say that the dinner at Studio went straight to my top five in 2017. I’ve eaten at one Michelin-starred restaurants that are not even close to the performance I experienced at Studio and if the inspectors have been doing their work properly, a second star should be within reach.
Damian Quintana has managed to create his own expression at Studio without loosing its original Nordic DNA. The flavors are still light, elegant and based on local produce but at the same time, Quintana is adding a bit of his South American heritage to the plate. The scallop dish was a perfect example. The large, hand-dived scallops from Norway were served raw with onion in a ceviche inspired version with a marinade of white currants, elderflowers, lemon grass and ginger giving the exotic twist; So fresh, sharp and elegant.
Another one was the grilled duck heart served with a chumichurri of local herbs or the grilled Limfjord Oyster with potato and mussel sauce. Everything was thought through and made to perfection.
The very last dish, wasn’t very South American but indeed both challenging at utterly delicious. It consisted of porcini cream, porcini praline, porcini oil, spruce, roasted almond ice cream and 12 year old apple balsamico – wauw! The mushroom flavors certainly confused the brain at first but as we digged more into it, it just got better and better.
All in all, Studio is a very solid one-starred restaurant leaning very much towards two, and if you go to Copenhagen to do fine dining, do not miss this beautiful restaurant along the waterside of Copenhagen.
1058 København K