Le Sommelier – Where did the Sophistication and Elegance go?

Sommelier Entrance

Le Sommelier is a French brasserie and wine bar owned by Francis Cardenau, Jesper Boelskifte and Erik Gemal Witting. Francis was the chef at Kommandanten before he came to Le Sommelier and he was the first in Denmark to be awarded with two Michelin stars. I have dined at Le Sommelier many times since my first time back in 1999, and have always loved it and everything about the place. The decor and style of it seems very French to me, although I’m no expert on French dining places. What I have found here was very high quality products and very harmonious and elegant dishes. Always.

The Wine Bar

My most recent visit to Le Sommelier was on Tuesday 24 July 2007 and I got very disappointed. So, why am I writing a post about bad food? It wasn’t bad food first of all, it was disappointing food. I felt let down. And that’s what I would like to communicate. I do, though, still have hopes for Le Sommelier and regard this an isolated occurrence, and this is the reason why I dare mention the restaurant at GOOD FOOD.

The food was not as its usual level and the service failed. My friend and I were going for a nice after-work glass of wine and hadn’t booked as we spontaneously decided to also dine there. A third friend would perhaps join us, but we weren’t sure about this.

The Interior

We got a table for three in a separate room away from the bar counter. We waited a little while before ordering the food and then started cramming the wine list, describing a well-stocked fantastic cellar. We finally went for a 2002 Mikulski, Meursault Genevrieres, Burgundy, which I have had before at this restaurant.

After half an hour my friend got an sms from our friend asking whether he was with me. He answered – and then nothing happened. We were puzzled. Then another 10 minutes went by and we suddenly saw our friend coming towards our table. She had been waiting for us at the bar counter the whole time, and nobody had told her that we were sitting in the room next door. None of the waiters had put two and two together.

This is where I feel that the service failed. We had told the waiters that a friend might join us, and when she arrived she had told them that she was meeting to other people. When she came we were in the middle of consuming our starters, because we thought that she wouldn’t be joining us after all.
The food. We chose the daily set menu comprising three courses:

The Halibut

Halibut with lobster sauce and sautéed vegetables.

The Queil

Guinea fowl with mushrooms, morel sauce pommes Anna

The Dessert

Sorbet ice-cream with elderflower blackberries and other fruits.

The lobster sauce was delectable with a rich taste of lobster, thin and fluid in texture. The sautéed vegetables of spinach and red pepper fruit was nice and interesting too and quite intense. These two matched each other but stole all attention from the fine halibut fish meat with almost no flavour at all. A strange match that is not like Le Sommelier at all.

The main course was brought to our table with cloth because of the heated plates, but the food was not that warm. The drumstick was nice and tender, the two tiny morels were good and the sauce lovely, powerfully reduced. The rest was just trivial, and what was the parsley leaves doing on the top? I had to remove them before I could start eating. Decoration like this that doesn’t add to the dish itself makes me think that the food is not interesting enough by itself. The sauce was definitely the greatest thing about this dish.

The dessert was the most messy and badly composed of the three courses. Various fruits and berries founding a ground for the ice-cream tricolore with the butter bread on top, a shot of elderflower slush on the side. This final dish was a crossing of sweetness and acidity forming a really bad marriage with no good reason at all for being hitched up.

Milkulski’s White Burgundy

What I enjoyed most this evening was – apart from the company (of course) – the wine. The Milkulski Meursault-Genevriéres was wonderful. I loved it! It was perfectly balanced in its taste of fruit, acidity, bitterness as well as the little bit of oak that I had also found in the nose. Very enjoyable and 2007 seems to me the perfect time for drinking Meursault 2002.


OK, this is not what it looks like. I’m absolutely not that rich. I had seen on the list of wines by the glass that I could get a 1999 d’Yquem (Sauternes) and absolutely had to try that . I’ve never tasted this before, but of course I’ve heard a lot about it. 2 cl. was all I got from the bottle, and the waiter used a measuring cup to ensure that I got no more than that.

The sauternes was vey nice but I wouldn’t really call it wine. Nectar would be a more appropriate description of what this thick liquid was like. Very and intensely sweet and at the same time bitter in the after-taste. Highly full-bodied. The 2 cl. wasn’t really enough for me, but I couldn’t have drunk a bottle or not even half, I think. If I would ever be offered Yquem Sauternes again I would indeed say ‘Yes, please’.

So, all in all the wine at Le Sommelier is great. But the food was very very ordinary and almost boring, seeming like something I could get anywhere in Copenhagen. It was like the place had got a new chef, or the chef having an off-day. I don’t know why, but very unlikely Le Sommelier. Anyway, I’m willing to come back – also for the food hoping the kitchen will find it’s usual high level again.

10 Responses to “Le Sommelier – Where did the Sophistication and Elegance go?”

  • Did you think the food was as good as their usual high level? Was the fish fresh?

    I went to Cofoco on Saturday and had soup with oysters, veal with sweet bread, cheese and bavaroise with liquorice and pear. Very nice a part from two things. Both the sweetbread and the pear were wrapped like in a roll and both of them appeared too heavy clumsy and didn’t fit in with the rest.

    What do you think about Güner Veltliner?
    I enjoyed the 2006 Kurt Angerer Kies, Grüner Veltliner with the starter. For the main course and cheese a 2002 Louis Joblot Pernand Verglesses Premier Cru aaaaaahhh 😀

    and, LAURENT for the dessert a lovely Juracon! ;o) Forgot the name of the producer unfortunately.

  • We were at Le Sommelier last night. Seemed like they had all new staff. Didn’t know a single soul. Too rough. And loud as always. Still the food was quite nice. Seared Scallops with Lobster sauce. Veal slices and truffle potato. Then Cheeses. I drank a Californian wine: 2005 Ridge Zinfandel Lytton Springs.

  • You know I could let your whole blog be translated by Babel Fish and then link to the translated version for my not French speaking readers… ehh, bad joke! 🙂

    Thanks for the further info on the Jurancon wine, Laurent :o)
    But I wouldn’t suppose I would ever get Foie Gras at noma (only teasing..;-).

    By accident I came across a dry version of Jurancon which should be the best wine for smoked salmon. Have you ever tried that?

  • Hi Trine,

    Thanks for talking about my blog in your last post !… could cause indeed some language difficulties for your readers but at least : good practice of french language as you said :o)

    Here after a link for more information on this wine (Jurancon) : http://www.jurancon.com/region/html/english/region.html

    And i checked the wine list on Noma website, they have 2 of these wines on their list (like Domaine Cauhape, great domain, at a very attractive price). No excuse next time you go there, you have to try it :o)

    As most you these sweet wines, you can drink them with a dessert or better with foie gras, and even why not for the aperitif, can be interesting as well.

    Cheers !


  • Vi valgte at holde det hjemme, hvor vi selv havde forberedt dejlig mad og nød en Cheval Blanc og Rieussec fra 1975 🙂

  • @Allan
    Aah. You see this is a very nice way of studying wines! Thanks 🙂
    Where or how did you celebrate turning round the cool corner?

    Yeah, I was surprised too. But 2 cl is really just a mouthful 😉 If your sight is good you might spot that they also have a La Tache at the bar (by glass I presume). One nice after work drink – which I still have to try. Soon. I hope.

    Juracon? No. Nada. Njet. What kind of grape is that? Dessert wines are not my favourite kind of wine and so I don’t remember them that well. I’ve tried Banyuls not so long ago and I liked it a lot, actually.

  • Wow, great to have Yquem served by the glass… almost impossible to find such opportunity here in France.

    I never tried Yquem, even i have a bottle of 1986 in my cellar but still wait some years before tasting it :o)

    In the same area of liqueur-like wines, have you tried Jurancon ? (typical from south-west of France…) these are just amazing too.


  • Rieussec is one of the 11 Premiers Crus in the Sauternes classification, where you have the D’Yquem as the only Grand Premier Cru. From 1975 it’s just great (90 points by Robert Parker).

  • Rieussec, I have never heard about that before. From where does it originate?

    I don’t think that this was my last time at Le Sommelier. But I must say that this food was not at all like Francis’. The restaurant was full of tourists that day. I’m not sure if that has any influence on what happens in the kitchen. Maybe it does. 🙁

    I will keep you posted on the abilities of Le Sommelier!

  • Doesn’t sound too good. I have never been to Le Sommelier and this review won’t direct me there, although you have high hopes for them.

    The d’Yquem I’ve never tasted, but had a Rieussec 1975 for my 30th birthday, which was great and as you say not exactly a wine, but more like nectar 🙂

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