Exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey. That is the definition of a three star restaurant in Guide Michelin. It is also a short summary of my last dinner in late July at Daniel Berlin Krog. In fact this is a review of one of my best dinners ever. An absolutely amazing dinner.
Restaurant Daniel Berlin is located in Skåne Tranås, a small village of just around 300 inhabitants, about 70 kilometres east of Malmö. The name Berlin has, at least as far as I know, nothing to do with the German capital. It is just the last name of the head chef and owner, Daniel Berlin. Before opening his eponymous restaurant Daniel worked at several renowned Swedish restaurants. Among them Operakällaren, Gastro and Petri Pumpa. Two years ago Daniel Berlin, now age 30, won The Young Chef Of The Year 2011 award by San Pellegrino & Acqua Panna. In leading Swedish restaurant guide “White guide” Daniel Berlin Krog is ranked number 5.
This is very much a family restaurant. While Daniel, along with one other chef and two stagiaires cooks the food, his parents together with two more staff, run the front of house and take care of the garden where they grow vegetables and berries for the restaurant. (Since a couple of weeks they also keep some chicken in the garden which I hope will be served in the restaurant soon.) The welcome reception is like few other restaurants. When you park your car outside the restaurant Daniel Berlin and his parents come out from the house and greet you welcome.
Beech smoked cod head with sea sandwort
The dinner started with a couple of nibbles. All excellent. The first snack was a small piece of a lightly smoked cod head with some sea sandwort. The next snack called “Onion in its environment” was equally good. A “crisp” made of dried onion was served with a ramson emulsion.
Summer onion in its environment
Tartare of oxheart with aromatic herbs
Quail eggs in lard from Linderöds pigs
Broccoli and potatoes with sorrel
Chicken liver and aronia on crispy bread
Cauliflower and good cream
Deep intense flavor of cauliflower. Excellent.
Unfortunately I do not remember every ingredient or what every dish tasted like. The notes below of several courses are therefore not very detailed. I do however remember that everything, except a few remarks below, was very good.
Vine-ripened vegetables from the garden
Lukewarmed cod with peas and sea rocket
A cod was served with some peas, sea rocket and horseradish snow. The quality of the the fish was stunning. I am not really a huge fan of horseradish and especially not in the shape of snow. This time though, the horseradish was suppressed quite a bit by a jelly of ättika (Swedish vinegar) and therefore made it much more enjoyable than normally. Horseradish and cod is a very classic combination and liked by many. Since I do not like horseradish I am not really qualified to have an opinion of this course. But I think it was a very good dish with the horseradish and ättika perfectly balancing the sweetness in the cod and the peas.
Cold smoked mackerel with red seaweed and beets
My finest memory of the dinner last year was an absolutely stunning cold smoked mackerel with an old variety of cucumber. It is hard to describe how good it was. Just like last year this evenings best dish was a cold smoked mackerel. This time it was served with beets and red seaweed. The mackerel which had a marvelous flavor and texture had first been cold smoked and then seared (maybe it had also spent some time in the oven). This was absolutely brilliant.
Eggyolk from a Blommehöna (Blomme hen) with four kinds of cabbage
Celeriac with bread and a broth made of remains
The grilled celeriac seems to have become Daniel Berlins signature dish. I was served it last year also but in a slightly different version. The celeriac had been grilled for a very long time until it was all black on the outside and soft on the inside. Daniel carved the celeriac in the dining room and put it in a bowl with some bread and – I think pearl sago (sagogryn). Tableside a soup or cream of the swedish cheese Prästost was poured in the bowl. This was a good dish – and better than last year – but not on the same level as the rest of the dinner.
Cauliflower, cauliflower and cauliflower in buttermilk
Cauliflower in three ways: thinly sliced, as a cream and seared raw. As simple as it was good. One of my favourite dishes of the evening. Very deep cauliflower flavour.
Mushroom liquid with ox marrow and dried cod roe
In the bottom of the bowl were some ox marrow and dried cod roe topped with pungent flowers. Table side a mushroom liquid was poured over the other ingredients. The liquid had been extracted from a huge amount of mushroom (several kilos per liter). I can not really see the greatness in this dish. The flavour was not particularly enjoyable.
When we had finished the mushroom dish the staff welcomed us to take a look at the garden. While his mother showed us the vegetables they grow we were handed a sorbet made of berries farmed in the garden (I do not remember exactly what it was made of).
Pressed and baked onion in smoked and grilled onion juice
The onion must be the most undervalued vegetable in the world. It costs nothing but prepared by the right hand it can be turned into something magical. Like this dish of pressed and baked onion in a juice made of smoked and grilled onion. Just wonderful.
Quail with grilled quails fat, offals and flowers
Sweetbreads with summerchanterelles, tallow and wood sorrel
The sweetbreads of very high quality were served with fried chanterelles, tallow emulsion and wood sorrel. The richness of the emulsion and the sweetness in the sweetbreads was finely balanced by the acidity in the wood sorrel. The chanterelles were fried until they were almost crunchy, just like it should be. A wonderful dish.
Wild raspberry sorbet with rugosa roses
A sorbet of wild raspberries. The sorbet, which had a perfect texture and a deep flavour of wild raspberries was fantastic. I do not remember what the other roses did to the dish. Personally I do not see the point of placing the sorbet near the brim of the plate instead of in the middle. Of course it is a matter of personal taste but to me it feels disharmonic. Daniel thinks it makes the plate look more interesting. I can not see why way this plating style would make it look more interesting. What is interesting though is why so many chefs plate food in this way today. Maybe I am a bit conservative but the classic way of putting the food in middle is more beautiful. I still do think it was a very good dessert.
Rawmilk from a Simmenthal cow with elder berries and tart berries
Coffee, cookies and brandy were then served in the new large greenhouse in the garden. A very nice way of ending a truly wonderful dinner.
This was my second visit to Daniel Berlin Krog. My first experience of Daniel Berlin’s cooking was in July last year. That was a good dinner but I thought the food was a little bit too “Scandinavian cool” for me. This year almost everything was a little bit better. Everything was a little bit sharper and “warmer”. (I should mention that, despite being Swedish, I have not been a huge fan of the New Nordic cooking style. I never really liked Mistral in Stockholm or the old Oaxen Krog at Oaxen. Maybe my taste buds are changing. I very much like Gastrologik and Gro which both adheres to New Nordic style.)
As I wrote in the beginning this was an absolutely amazing dinner. The quality of the produce was stunning, everything was cooked to perfection, the food was very elaborate yet it was not overwrought. The flavours were complex and everything tasted very, very good. The fact that Daniel Berlin serves this kind of a dinner with the help of just one more chef and two stagiaires makes me even more impressed. This was better than a couple of Michelin three starred restaurants that I have visited and top ten-restaurants on the 50 Best list.
Service is better than last year. Daniels parents, which have no former experience of running a restaurant, acted with a lot more confidence this year and appeared to be more relaxed. I still do think that the restaurant have to improve their wine knowledge though. The wine list is short and is based on mostly natural wine. Personally I would like to see something else than just natural wines.
I will of course return to Daniel Berlin. Hopefully I will not have to wait until next summer. I think the game dinner that Daniel Berlin will host in December could be something special.
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