A foodie has lifted the lid on what it is like dining at one of the world’s weirdest and most sought-after restaurants – with the off-the-wall dishes certainly not for the faint hearted.
Michael Ligier, from San Francisco, managed to snag a seat at the two-starred Michelin restaurant Alchemist in Copenhagen, which starts from $717 for the 50-course tasting menu and $2,180 with the wine pairing.
In a YouTube video he explains that ‘reservations sell out in under three seconds’ and there’s a reported 40,000-strong waitlist, so it was ‘crazy’ that he got to experience it.
The food expert then offers viewers a glimpse of what happened inside the highly acclaimed dining spot, which currently ranks at number 18 on the World’s 50 Best Restaurant list, with lamb brain, jellyfish and a faux tongue among the zanier dishes.
Michael Ligier, from San Francisco, managed to snag a seat at the two-starred Michelin restaurant Alchemist in Copenhagen
One dish featured lamb lungs served as a creamy pate in between crunchy layers
Michael gets to grips with a slither of lamb’s brain, which came presented inside a prosthetic head and atop a foie gras stuffed brioche
The first course of the dinner, called 1984, was made to look like an eyeball. It comprised a Danish potato with cream, some fresh green peas and a dollop of osetra caviar on top
Michael says that the experience starts from the moment you walk into the former theatre set-building workshop.
He reveals: ‘These massive doors that slowly open to a black void.
‘You’re told to go into a pitch black room where all of a sudden a violinist from the Copenhagen Philharmonic greets you with a Danish folk song… It was actually a little bit scary.’
After the unusual greeting, Michael was led through to a lounge area with ‘these massive wine towers and [an] interactive drinks menus waiting for the meal to begin.’
Then, when the serving team were given the go ahead, Michael ventured into the dining room which featured a dome with ‘giant visuals on that move and change’ and atmospherically-lit counter-style tables.
In his YouTube video, Michael documents a selection of the stranger dishes he was served.
The first dish, or ‘impression’ as the restaurant calls it, was a giant eye called 1984 and created with the idea that ‘Big Brother is watching you.’
The medley comprised a Danish potato with a cream made out of lovage, some fresh green peas and a dollop of osetra caviar on top.
Some of the other kooky creations in the initial run of things included ‘a daisy with a center that explodes in your mouth,’ ‘a drink made with rabbit ears,’ dumplings which had the texture of cotton candy and artfully presented bowls of jellyfish.
The artfully presented jellyfish course to highlight sustainable ingredients
Some of the other kooky creations in the initial run of things included dumplings which had the texture of cotton candy
One dish which looks like a transparent scrunched up wrapper is called ‘Plastic Fantastic’ as a nod to plastic pollution
A cake was made from the tails of king crab, which are generally discarded
‘My brain just can’t process it,’ he said as he tried to figure out the unusual texture and taste combinations.
Recalling how he felt inside the theatrical restaurant, he said: ‘As the dishes started coming, I was kinda like having fun… I felt like a kid in a toy store getting to play with all these different dishes.
‘Everything… so precise and orderly.’
Michael highlights that many of the dishes were created by chef Rasmus in a bid to highlight social problems and promote sustainable dining.
For example, one dish which looked like a discarded food wrapper, was called ‘Plastic Fantastic’ as a nod to plastic pollution, while a slice of cake was made from king crab tails, which are generally thrown away.
At another point, Michael had to ‘free a chicken leg’ from a small cage to eat the meat lollipop attached to a scrawny foot, while images of battery-farmed chickens were projected around the domed dining room.
After some innovative dishes, Michael said things started to get ‘creepy, like really creepy.’
He continued: ‘I’m an adventurous eater but even I started to have my limits tested by some of these dishes.
‘There was a moment where I heard the guy next to me saying that he would not eat this dish no matter what.’
One of the more adventurous dishes at Alchemist came in the form of lamb lung pate.
After wining and dining for seven hours, Michael was led into a pink room decked out with a disco ball
In the pink room, Michael had to put his finger in a cup and lick off the gooey substance
For dessert the restaurant served up an Andy Warhol-inspired banana, as a reference to an artwork the chef has hanging in his kitchen
As the dish was placed in front of Michael, the server explained that lungs were ‘very much a kind of taboo part of the animal… even by offal standards.’
The lungs were served ‘like a pate or cream’ sandwiched between two crunchy cracker-like layers. Despite initial reservations, Michael said the creation was actually ‘really, really delicious.’
Taking things up a notch, the impression called Food For Thought featured a slither of lamb’s brain atop a deep-fried brioche ball filled with foie gras.
This morsel was then presented in one half of a realistic-looking prosthetic head.
Another course which caught Michael by surprise was something that appeared to be a replica of the chef’s tongue which had to be licked off a presentation spoon.
‘So I had to give the chef a French kiss,’ he mused.
This section of the savory menu was ‘just insane,’ Michael said, but he explained that this was what made Alchemist ‘so weird… beautiful and amazing.’
For dessert the restaurant served up an Andy Warhol-inspired banana, a reference to an artwork the chef has hanging in his kitchen, filled with banana sorbet.
The less appetizing dessert option on offer at Alchemist was a pig’s blood ice-cream shaped into a blood droplet.
In Michael’s video, the server explains that a QR code on the side of the plate allows diners to donate blood as blood donation is something ‘close to many Danes’ hearts’ due to a ‘pretty serious national blood shortage.’
A less appetizing dessert on offer at Alchemist is a pig’s blood ice-cream shaped into a blood droplet
To finish off the meal, the food pro was presented with a chocolate bar called the Guilty Pleasure
To finish off the meal, the food pro was presented with a chocolate bar called the Guilty Pleasure. Michael explained that the wrapper featured ‘facts about child labor and the chocolate trade and how inhumane some chocolate can be.’
It came in a biodegradable wrapper and the chocolate was in the shape of a coffin to ‘really highlight that point… it’s powerful stuff.’
Topping off the experience, exiting the restaurant proved as weird as entering it.
After wining and dining for seven hours, Michael was led into a pink room decked out with a disco ball and instructed to wipe his hands on a napkin before throwing it on the floor.
A voiceover then told him to ‘carefully grip’ a cup in front of him with one hand and put the index finger of his other hand inside it.
The instructions continued: ‘Run your finger along the inside of the cup and then raise your finger.’
On being told to lick a gooey substance off his finger he was invited to dance by a woman wearing a wig. This, Michael said, was probably the strangest part of the dinner and he’s not sure how to describe what happened.
Despite the mix of unusual ingredients and feeling out of his comfort zone, Michael described Alchemist as the best experience of his life and definitely worth the hefty price tag.
He concluded: ‘I used to think fine dining was stuffy, formal, it was a bunch of people in suits and ties and white table clothes on the table but what I realize especially for me, is just seeing how far food can go, how it can be creative and innovative, and it can be more than just about taste.
‘It was the best meal I ever had in my entire life… it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience.’