One of my favorite restaurants over the past 13 years has been the Bistro at the 800-year-old Danish Castle Dragsholm, located in the western part of Zealand.
At the beginning of this year, the kitchen at Dragsholm was changed and re-invigorated when chef Claus Henriksen – after 13 years of tireless work – handed the baton to Jeppe Foldager, a chef of whom I have very fond memories from his work at Alberto K and Kanalen.
New broom indeed; entering the lovely setting of the Bistro I see clear changes – not in the interior, but in the upgrades to the service. One senses a feeling of being “on one’s toes” and polite, with a certain correctness not present under Claus Henriksen’s more relaxed reign. A new, more serious – yet still relaxed – style has been introduced. Which would you prefer? Both work for me.
The number of waiters has been increased, and this has given the service a bit more edge and ambition. This also promises a lift to the castle’s culinary flagship The Gourmet, a restaurant that’s now the playing field of the very talented Jeppe Foldager, himself a former silver-medal winner at Bocuse d’Or.
The menu in the Bistro has been upgraded and adjusted, with an interesting combination of snacks, small dishes, and large dishes. A delightful lunch can be created with different combinations – depending on appetite and palate – expanding on starter-and-main-dish normality.
The new menu gets one thinking. A classic small-and-large-dish combination is adequate for lunch, however if one wants dessert and/or cheese, then perhaps two small dishes and a dessert would be suitable. Or even a snack and a large dish – why not?
My first course was the Tartare made from Jersey cattle with pickled white asparagus and black pepper. A delightful, colourful dish, the Tartare was quite boldly cut, lean, and pure in flavour – high-quality beef, without doubt. (I have a soft spot for Jersey beef.)
It was a lunch-sized serving with a modern, vivid expression – lovely. My lunch partner had the chicken-based Bird liver parfait, a large appetizer that one could well use as a starter, now that I know the menu a bit better.
For the second course, I chose the Pan-fried brill with local vegetables (Lammefjorden) and sauce nage.
With potatoes on the side, this dish made its point with its lightness and elegant/modern appearance. What a delight, with the sauce nage providing a nice balancing acidity. It was a perfect match for the Riesling I choose for both dishes (no rest for the weary; the Winehog did NOT save his palate).
The Bistro has a nice selection of lesser wines, and the competent sommelier Peter Fagerland has created a large list for The Gourmet restaurant that’s available in the Bistro. It’s a fine selection with many well-known names, and looking carefully, there are some gems to be found at moderate prices; a good list if you know your wines. As seen on the Bistro list below, there are even Danish wines to tempt your exotic palate.
I had a lovely lunch at Dragsholm Bistro. The changes under Jeppe Foldager are subtle yet distinct: an upgrade in service, and both the dishes and the atmosphere are more classical, competent, and contemporary. The food is more precise and less free-spirited – this is quite a change, underlining the clear ambitions of the new kitchen. Perhaps targeting two Michelin stars in the Gourmet restaurant, Jeppe Foldager is certainly the guy to do it – Dragsholm Gourmet has had one star since 2017.