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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Keeping it simple - Oysters & Grill

Danish oysters from "Limfjorden"
Starter of mixed seafood: grilled "virgin lobsters" (langoustines),
panfried baby squid, tiger prawns, razor clams, littleneck clams and
blue mussels
Deep fried softshell crabs with chili mayo
Crudité of cauliflower, fennel and carrot
Dessert: Danish Christmas rice pudding with cherry sauce
Oyster & Grill branded water.
Interior - cheap, cheerful and "hyggelig"
LOCATION: Oysters & Grill, Sjællandsgade 1B, Nørrebro, Copenhagen
CATEGORY: Seafood, steak, surf and turf
DRINK: Champagne (N.V. J.L. Vergnon, Conversation, Le Mesnil sur Oger, Blanc de Blancs, Grand Cru), white wine (2010 Cheverny, Hervé Villemade, Domaine du Moulin, Loire)
WE THINK: Another smart concept from the guys behind Cofoco (Copenhagen Food Consulting) whose ten or so Copenhagen restaurants are all reasonably priced (by Copenhagen standards) and serve good food and wine. This one might just be the best of them all. Located on a quiet side street in one of our favorite Copenhagen neighborhoods, the somewhat rough (again, by Copenhagen standards!) "Nørrebro",  Oysters & Grill is based on a simple surf and turf concept. Their starters include French and Danish oysters and around 8 different types of seasonal shellfish (grilled, steamed and fried). Mains are a choice of 3 different cuts of beef served with french fries. The only side-dish on the menu is a crudité of vegetables and the wine list is very short (less than a dozen wines in total) but features well selected, interesting wines from small producers, including natural wines. We had a delicious champagne and Cheverny white with our meal. It's all pretty simple and refreshing in a way that makes total sense to us. We decided to start our dinner with a handful each of some very tasty Danish oysters followed by a surprisingly inexpensive platter to share, comprising all the seafood starters on that day's menu. It turned out to be an impressive pile of grilled langoustines, baby squid and tiger prawns 'a la plancha', deep-fried soft-shell crabs, steamed razor clams, littleneck clams and blue mussels--all fresh, well seasoned and cooked to perfection. It's impossible to list the amount of times we've had a disappointing seafood platter experience. There's always something in the mix that's not entirely fresh, something overcooked, something undercooked, too little of the good stuff, too much of the boring stuff, 40 tasteless mussels, one funky clam etc... It shouldn't be that hard to get it right, but it almost never is. This was one of those rare occasions where everything was right. It seems to us that by keeping the menu so simple, the kitchen at Oysters & Grill can focus on pulling each dish off perfectly. To our surprise, we were stuffed after our starters, skipped the otherwise good-looking steaks, and finished off with a small sneaky dessert. What a winner. 

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