FAMO 51 – not far from famous

A great Italian osteria

Thursday 15 March 2007

The Entrance of FAMO 51

Entering the FAMO 51 and dropping our jackets in the cloakroom, I immediately noticed the grand slightly hollowed Parmigiano Reggiano cheese on the bar and the brass bowl cooling down the bottles of Prosecco di Valdobbiadene and Franciacorta Bellavista spumante. ‘That looks like a really good start’, I thought.

FAMO 51 is a rather new place, but the concept (one menu comprising 6 antipasti, 2 pasta, 1 secondo and a dessert) is known from the first FAMO restaurant in Saxogade 3 in the Vesterbro part of Copenhagen. Both restaurants are owned by the two chefs Fabbio Mazzon and Morten Kaltoft. In his past, Fabbio Mazzon has been conjuring recipes at Era Ora, amongst other places. To my surprise, I noticed only a couple of days ago that the original FAMO restaurant is actually mentioned as a ‘Bib Gourmand’ place – I’m not surprised.

We were welcomed by a young waitress who showed us to our table and shortly after we shook hands with the owner who presented himself as Fabbio and welcoming us to his restaurant in a way like we were invited to his home. I immediately felt welcome and felt that he really wanted me to have a good time at his place.

The wine. We started with a glass of Franciacorta, from the producer Bellaviasta – an Italian version of Champagne. Of all the spumante I have ever tried, this one is the best. I love the shape of the bottle and the way that the vivid bubbles sparkle in my mouth. The Franciacorta had a full-bodied taste, and I generally like it when the champagne and the spumante have a strong and powerful taste of grapes and oak. We had the cuvée brut, but of course you can get more exclusive stuff, like Satèn or Franciacorta Riserva Vittorio Moretti.

It was quite a challenge to select a wine to accompany all those dishes: Lots of antipasti, pasta, main course and dessert. It could either be a full-bodied white wine or a not too powerful red one. Fabbio explained the menu and recommended that we chose according to the main course, which was quail.

I love, love Brunello (especially from the producer Filippo Fanti), but unfortunately I don’t get it very often, as it’s too expensive. I don’t mean not good value for money, though. I simply can afford the baby brother of this great wine better – the Rosso di Montalcino. Rosso di Montalcino became DOC in 1983 (three years after Bunello became DOCG, got the DOC in 1966). It’s my impression that it’s not so well-known outside the borders of Italy.

The funny thing was that Fabbio’s suggestion for a suitable red wine for the poultry was the very same wine as the one that I was sweet on: The Rosso di Montalcino. This ruled out every question I had about that. An excellent choice.

First of all, the temperature of the wine was perfect. I always prefer the wine a few degrees too cold than too warm. Warm wine is awful, and a temperature to high kills all the flavour of the wine and, in my opinion, especially the tannin taste of it. This one had a rich taste of fruit, great tannin; enough to make the inner side of my cheeks suck to my gum. I like that. After a couple of minutes in the glass it opened up and turned into a rather powerful taste. A wonderful flavour matching my preferences and the poultry perfectly.

Inside the FAMO 51

The food. Oh my. So tasty and prepared with the best ingredients, no question about that.

I confess it; I absolutely ate to my heart’s content, stoked myself because of these dishes being so well cooked and all the memories of nice foodie experiences welled up in me. The bean soup set me right back to the hills around Zocca, where Olanda, the 70 year old cook of my au-pair grandmother prepared the most delicious Italian food of the Emilia-Romagna region, the part commonly known to be the place in Italy having the best food. Every day this extremely strong woman cooked a many course lunch and dinner for the members of the family and their guests. And while not preparing food, she spent time in the garden during the hot siesta on polishing the old brass kitchenware decorating the kitchen walls where we all ate. The look of the kitchen was just like taken out of an old Italian movie.

The amount of food, tasty salami, good cheese, crispy crostinis, turkey with the salted and dried pancetta wrapped around, stiff polenta and tender quail, the sweet delight of the jellyish panna cotta – cooked cream.

It’ was over the top. I was busted. Two and a half hours for eating 11 dishes. Fabulous, but paralysing. I felt it like I had to lie down afterwards like the Romans did in ancient times. I now fully understand what other people have told about this place, the fact that they were so full after having dinner at this little Italian place.

But I admit, I do feel a little bit sorry now, because the speedof the dishes was too high. My problem is that I wasn’t provided enough time to fully muse on every plate, every single detail of every piece of food. To just fully enjoy it.

What I recall best of what we got, is the taste of the chicory that was grilled and marinated with olive oil and vinegar (I think). I remember it so well, because of the fact that my companion said that he found the taste of it somewhat strange and salt demanding (neither salt nor pepper was on the table). To me it was just perfect with the bitter flavour, mild oil and sour vinegar, which all together are very characteristical for the Italian cucina I know. The elegance and the lightness of Italian food.

My musing over food when I eat it that’s what eating good food is all about. It’s where my mind is being stimulated. The eating good food is not just something that happens only in my mouth. It’s a part of my brain, too. And my body, my whole being taking part in it, the dining. When I’m not given the time to carefully move the food round in my mouth to extract every element of the flavour, well then it’s not a 100% good experience, for me. I lacked time here.

Most of all I question the speed because the restaurant didn’t seem sold out on this Thursday evening. Did they just want to race home?

Anyways, FAMO 51 still qualifies for a post and a reference on my blog.

Leaving the place, we shook hands again with Fabbio and I expressed how nice this experience had been – in Italian (now after a couple of glasses of the splendid wine, I apparently felt courageous enough to switch to his original language) to which he asked how come I was able speak Italian. I explained. Then he turned and asked me who my companion was, actually asking ‘Is this your fiancé?’ What a compliment. My brother is more than 10 years younger than me.

Buon appetito!

The complete menu this evening:

A pre-starter of salame, thinly sliced coppa, Parmigiano Reggiano breakings and a pecorino toscano type cheese

6 Antipasti:
Grilled and marinated red peppers, a lettuce of chicory salad and a small onion
Spelt and vegetables salad (cooked like insalata di riso but the rice swapped with the spelt)
Crostino with a sausage of some sort
Stick darted toast cubes and turkey with a wrap of pancetta
Polenta (cold) with rabbit’s ragout

2 Pasta:
Bean soup
Pappadelle with Tuscan cabbage

Grilled quail with polenta and red onions

Panna cotta with cherries sauce and a preserved pear

And the wine:
Franciacorta, Bellavista
2004 Rosso di Montalcino, Sesti, 100% sangiovese, 12 months in barrels, biodynamic

21 Responses to “FAMO 51 – not far from famous”

  • You’re right, it might be a good idea to ask the waiter if it’s ok to take pictures.
    The compact one I have is also an Ixus, an Ixus 750. I might as well bring that, as I’m not really interested in sitting there with a big Digital SLR camera 🙂

  • Ha ha, 🙂 I have the same considerations about which camera to bring along when I’m dining out. First, I usually ask the people I’m with if they would feel uncomfortable me taking pictures of the food. Second I ask the waiter if I may photograph the plates. My two times at noma’s I brought my big digital reflex camera and you know what? At one point the waiter even asked me, if I had taken enough photos! I was almost chocked. In fact, I often forget it when the course looks fabulous and the eating experience is great.

    I just got a new small camera yesterday, an IXUS 950. The other one wasn’t good enough for dark places in the evening, which shows at the dessert images at my MR dinner. I’m excited to see how well it will perform next time I’m dining gourmet – or anything good food.

    If I were you, I’d ask my girlfriend to carry the small camera in her bag just in case. I would be dreadful to regret not having the opportunity to immortalize the beautiful food. Well, maybe that’s just me. 🙂

    Good luck anyway!

  • Friday August 31. I’m trying to figure out if I should bring my camera (EOS 30D) or just a compact one. The compact one’s not that good if there’s not light enough (as can be seen from the Geranium pictures I took).
    Oh well, at least it won’t be my mobile that’ll be allowed to take pictures. Maybe I won’t even bring a camera…

  • It is interesting, I can ensure you! I had a fabulous evening at Kasper’s place. 😀 I’ll post my review of the dinner when I get some time soon.
    Yes, I’ve checked for the website too, and I presume that it will be up and running when the restaurant is open again in August.

    By the way, I really look forward to a post on your blog about noma – when are you dining there?

  • That sounds interesting!

    Tyven’s closed and Kasper Rune Sørensen from Kommandanten will open a new restaurant there called Nouveau in August?

    Can’t find a website…?! 🙂

  • Tim asked above what happened to Restaurant Kommandanten. Now I know!

    Well, we all know that it closed, but now I’ve found the chef and also where to get his good food. 🙂

    Kasper Rune Sørensen has taken over the little place in Magstræde with the funny name Tyvenkokkenhanskoneoghendeselsker. He plans to redecorate a bit and in early August open after the summer holidays under a new name Nouveau.

    Good luck Kasper, you deserve it!

  • Francesca, so good that you’re back! 🙂

    No unfortunately, I didn’t know about La Caravelle, it looks fabulous and very French.

    I loved Marseilles and especially Aix, maybe because both of them reminded me of Italy, going there in three weeks and I just can’t wait.

    Did you have coffee aux deax Garcons? I didn’t find it strong enough for an espresso. The coffee they made at Le Clos was much better.

  • Hello again Trine,
    I needed to stop by again because of Aix and Marseille comments. I lived there for a while and Les deux garcons was my favorite stop for a coffee.
    It was quite a few years ago but reading about it and about Le vieux Port made me feel happy! Did you go to La Caravelle in Marseille for an aperitif before dinner. Lovely view of the port and charming atmosphere….

  • Hello Tim

    I had (having) one of the best days of my life today. I took the TGV from Marseilles to Aix en Provence, which reminds me very much of the Volterra in Tuscany, but bigger (the style of houses, narrow and with the shutters), strolled around for a little while, warm and sunny and blue sky, the markets full of people and of food and other stuff, dropped in for (not the best) cup of coffee at the Les Deux Garcons, got lost, got help from a French woman from out of town, who guided me back to the Cours Maribeau, so that I could afterwards find my way to the most divine lunch spot of Aix. I didn’t want to leave it, in the end. (More later about this, of course). A marvellous and peaceful place.

    All these fantastic restaurants are really keeping me busy, and I’m already so much behind now.

    Anyways, I wanted to tell you also that, when was it, oh yes Thursday evening, I had dinner at the Des Mets de Provence, which is a classical Provencal style spot with not two identical glasses or plates on the tables, overwhelming colourful, a fireplace in the middle of the room, overdecorated walls with photos, paintings, pots and pans, and flowers. This place is a gem, and very nice food. I had carrots soup with some lovely olive oil and pepper and goat’s cheese (which I didn’t eat, because I’m not so keen on this), various delectable appetizers, a fresh, moist and tender sea bass with crispy and tasty skin followed by the dessert with pear, ice cream and caramel. The coffee was good too – strong the way I like it. The restaurant is on the left side of the Quai of the Vieux Port when you face the Chateaux d’If. Good food. I have uploaded the photos to my site http://picasaweb.google.com/verygoodfood. It was very dark that evening so the photos didn’t come out that well.

    I better stop for now and pop out and enjoy the last sunbeam and my last Marseillaise evening, unfortunately.

    About the -s, well aren’t you the expect here?


  • Hi Trine!

    I just discovered a mention of Luns restaurant on Joe Belmaati’s wine forum (www.belmaati.com). Most people who post there seem to be Danes: some of you Danes drink some great wines!

    The link is http://www.belmaati.com/post-97741.html#97741

    So apparently the guy who runs Luns used to run a restaurant called Ensemble which had some michelin stars. Luns is not the sort of place that would get Michelin stars: it’s too informal and there are no tablecloths. But I think it is ‘hygge’, to use my favourite danish word (sadly, one of the few I know, but it is a very useful one).

    To answer your question, the service was like the restaurant: friendly, informal, and well done. There is a short wine list but everything we tried on it was brilliant. They also have some millionaires’ wines (Domaine de la Romanée Conti, or ‘DRC’ for the nerds). But I’ll leave those for the millionaires.

    I love Rhone wines. The two we had at Luns were from the southern Rhone: one by a maker called Gramenon, a 100% grenache called ‘…Cepe centenaires’ (2004) — can’t quite remember the name because I was a little jolly when I wrote it down. But Gramenon is the name to remember. The appellation was just Cotes du Rhone but it was an incredibly perfumed and delicate wine. Fantastic. Then we had a chateauneuf du pape, Clos des Mont Olivet 1998. That was really good too, more earthy and complex maybe than the Gramenon. But great.

    I agree with you that foam can be a good addition to a dish (my favourite ‘foamy’ restaurant in London: Pied a Terre, Charlotte St, W1; they have a set lunch for £27, it is worth it!). But sometimes restaurants aim too high and cover their inadequacies with foam!

    I’ll stop rambling now.

    Look forward to your news about Marseilles.
    PS There is this very odd thing that in English, the French cities of Marseille and Lyon are spelled ‘Marseilles’ and ‘Lyons’. Why???

  • I like Einstein’s remark on simplicity! And thank you, Tim, for tipping me about the St John. I have wanted to go to London for a very long time, love it, there seem to be many nice places, and so far I’ve only had indifferent meals there (years ago). However with the brimful of possibilities, I’m very happy to have a personal recommendation. I’ve signed up for their news. It looks very intriguing.

    My Tuesday evening dinner was an experience that I would like to post a review of, but I’m still working on it. Would prefer not to reveal the name of this sense exciting restaurant prior to posting. I hope that’s OK. Hope you’ll stay tuned (and patient).

    Yup, the list’s no. 1+2 are on my wishing list, but one need to plan far in advance. In January I checked El Bulli and it’s fully booked for 2007! I wonder if that applies for the Fat Duck as well.

    Do you usually get people to cost your dinners? You seem to get your way around Copenhagen, if I may say so.

    I love the lentils, but have them rarely and that’s a pity. No, never tried Luns. What’s your impression of the service there?

    Are you a fan of Rhone wines? Please, yes details.

    It’s so funny that you mention the foam, cause I was thinking yesterday that this seems to be the new trend. I confess that I’m a foam fan because of the combination of flavour intensity combined with lightness, which appears surprising to me in a way, when it’s good. At noma they really know how to do that.

    Sorry for all my questions. (Well, actually I’m not. It’s just an attempt of appearing polite).


  • Thanks for the response, Trine!

    Your remarks about simplicity remind me of what Einstein said: we should make things as simple as possible, but not more simple than that. That should be a motto for restaurants!

    I hope that we will be able to go to Noma, your descriptions of it make it sound wonderful.

    Where did you eat in Marseilles? I need to have some recommendations for when I go there again.

    I’m from London and my favourite restaurant there is St John (www.stjohnrestaurant.co.uk) where the food is very simple but perfect. But it is not to everyone’s taste: large pieces of meat, or offal, grilled or stewed or braised, english cheese, French wine, wonderful bread. Have you ever been there? I think it is about no.35 on the list you mention on which Noma is no.15…

    El Bulli (never been there) and the Fat Duck (ditto) are nos. 1 and 2 on that list. Have you been to these places? I am sceptical of chemistry and ‘foam’ in general, but I am willing to be persuaded! (especially if someone else is paying)

    Tonight we went to Luns restaurant (øster farimagsgade 12). Do you know it? I loved it. We had charcuterie followed by braised veal with onions, with puy lentils; the wine (Rhone) was fabulous (will give more details if anyone is interested). Simplicity itself. Copenhagen has such variety.

    best regards

  • Dear Tim

    Thank you very much for your sweet comment and compliment. It’s so kind of you.

    You talk about the concept of the tasting menu (a worldwide, outworn trend?), assuming it would comprise a good number of dishes and thus many different ingredients, tastes. My opinion on it is, that the key to a good dinner of that kind is as you say simplicity. The kitchen has to keep each dish uncomplicated, and the eating experience should appear easy to comprehend and to digest. If every plate is a bomb of various flavours and odours, the mind cannot cope with no more, at some point. It gets blurry and your (my) senses get fed up. Such impression doesn’t leave you with a light feeling afterwards, I guess. I was quite stuffed myself after my evening at Famo 51.

    To be simple not only goes for food, but for so many other things like photography for example, get closer to the object you’re shooting, in presentations, only a few and clear points, and elaborate on these. My question is: Can it ever get too simple? I’m not sure.

    I actually I had a very delectable tasting meal last night – in Marseille, France. Most of it was kept very simple.

    As for your question about the Kommandanten restaurant (where I never went unfortunately), it closed down about one or two months ago. The scene of excellent Copenhagen restaurants is changing rapidly at the moment, it seems. You say that you’re in the city for three weeks, if you get the change I really (really really) recommend you to go for lunch at noma. It’s so good, needless to say.

    I have taken note of the Babbo (daddy) in NY, in case I get a second chance of going there. Can you recommend any other great or brilliant places, of this world, where the chef knows how to play it simple?


  • Dear Trine
    Just discovered your blog, I really like it, well done! I like the way you write about food and restaurants.

    Visiting Copenhagen in this lovely spring weather for 3 weeks. The restaurants here are excellent. Last night my wife and I and a Danish friend went to Famo 51, which prompted me to write this comment. I thought it was great. I like the no-choice menu, and there were some highlights, like the grilled lamb cutlets with roast potatoes and red onions, and the homemade sausage. It was all very simple, not flashy show-off cuisine but that’s what I generally prefer. Flashy cuisine is only good if it is brilliant. For normal eating, I’d prefer simple food.

    The service was very good, and charming in what I think of as a very Danish way — unpretentious and informal, polite, but a little bit humorous and almost cheeky. But just attentive enough.

    My only reservation is the way the food was presented, as if it were a ‘tasting menu’ (why do I find that whole concept a bit annoying?). I didn’t see the need to have two primi, for example — it struck me as rather un-Italian. The only other time I had such a thing was at Mario Batali’s Lupa in New York. They kept bringing small dishes of pasta and ‘announcing’ them as if it were a temple of gastronomy.

    Batali has one of the best Italian restaurants outside Italy, Babbo in NYC; they don’t do things like that there.

    Oh yes, once I had such a meal in a rather indifferent restaurant in Pisa, so maybe it is not un-Italian.

    But it seems to me that pasta, risotto and polenta etc. are wholesome hearty dishes that should not be presented in small morsels. I would rather have had one larger dish of pasta at Famo 51 than the two.

    However, this is a quibble; it was a really good dinner.

    A question about Copenhagen: what happened to Kommandanten? I went there a few years ago and had an amazing and memorable meal. (And an amazing bottle of JL Chave St Joseph 1999.) But it seems to have closed.

    Keep up the good work on the blog!
    best wishes

  • Tonight, I had dinner at the first FAMO restaurant in Saxogade 3, Vesterbro.

    I would just like to say that the food there is just as delicious and original as at the FAMO 51. In particular the Parma ham, the bread, the olive oil, the tiramisu and the turkey stick with pancetta was remarkably good.

    Again, I was welcome by Fabbio, one of the owners, who in fact remembered me from last time I ate FAMO food, and he said hello to me in the Italian way. All in all, a very nice evening.

    Grazie Fabbio! A presto.

  • Christian, thanks to you, dearest! I’m happy that you enjoyed the evening too, and that you appreciated the final amaro :-).
    Your søs

  • Dear Robert-Gilles
    Thank you so much for your kind words! 1972 – that’s a long time ago. Much has changed since then. I hope Copenhagen will be as nice as you remember and hopefully gastronomically improved.
    Japan? I’ve ever been to that part of the world, unfortunately. Very interesting and informative blog you have!
    Take care, you too!

  • Thank you Trine, for a great evening and by the way a great blog! I totally agree with your review. The food was outstanding and was over the hill compared to the price. Eleven courses! I have never been so full after eating at a restaurant before and in this context it needs to be mentioned that I have been to several all-you-can eat places. 😉
    Lastly I will express my gratification of their home made sausage. It was very satisfactory and is worth a visit, in my opinion, apart from the million other great impressions.

    Again, thank you for a superior evening,

  • Dear Trine!
    This is Robert-Gilles Martineau of shizuokagourmet.wordpress.com/
    I have just discovered your blog. You reminded me of some great moments in Denmark and Copenhagen I visited as far back as 1972!
    I really enjoyed the concept and contents of your blog!
    I will soon be back for a longer time as soon as I have finished work!
    take care!

  • Thank you, Bo. I’m very glad you liked it. I was happy to write it.

  • Wow Trine, you outdone yourself on this one. Glad you had a splendid evening, cant wait to hear about the next one.

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