What About Herman?

Last week I dined at the new gourmet palace of Tivoli, Herman, which is housed in the old Nimb palace. The restaurant is named after Thomas Herman, the chef, who before Tivoli worked at Kong Hans, Arzak (San Sebastian) and La Broche (Madrid). Thomas claims that taste has to do with recollection and that everything we eat reminds us of something or someone. I’ve heard that before. First of all when I eat good food I am often reminded of previous situations where I have eaten similar items. Secondly, Heston Blumenthal and Fat Duck play with our minds and try not only to get us to recollect the past, he also challenges our minds and teases us with food that look and tastes like something we know, but in reality is something else. Thomas takes it further and says that it’s the way our emotions work and how we stay connected to the world. Personally, I have pondered about that. I was intrigued.

Crispy pork fat and smoke


So, on Monday 13th of October I went to Herman with three other foodies. We started out in the arm chairs with champagne and snacks. I have to say that the lounge area does seem a bit snarled-up and not really cosy and relaxing. It’s located right next to the reception desk and the entrance. So people pass by every now and again and it had a disturbing affect on me.

Wonderful Oysters

The snacks were fantastic, especially the oyster which was garnished with tapioca and a tiny bit of bacon or sausage of some sort, heavenly anyway. I could have eaten a dozen of those. Other appetizers were fried foie gras (the little ball) and crispy rye bread with a tasty lobster mayonnaise. We were offered two different champagnes to choose from and I ended up regretting not paying attention because I picked the Blanc de Blanc (and forgot about the name) and missed the lovely rosé NV Pascal Doquet, Le Mesnil Sur Oger which  my companion got and which offers such marvellous balance and a full body, even without being fuss. I don’t like it so much when champagne is too acidic. Depends what I eat with it, I guess.

On to the tables and the fantastic interior. You sit in such a comfortable and a beautiful chair designed by the Danish cabinetmaker Hans Wegner. The tables are set with thick white cloths and matching serviettes folded with a silver napkin ring so stunning that I so pondered whether or not it would be too inappropriate and childish to try it on like a bracelet. (So, why didn’t I photograph it?). The room was smaller than I expected and comprises about 12 tables in total. It was quite hot that evening and this might have affected how I experienced the wine, but I’ll get back to that. There was a bit of noise too, so at times it was heard to hear each other. But this is something the restaurant will improve over the winter, we were told.

Bisque of jerusalem artichokes with smoked eel & green apples
Jerusalem artichokes in texture and old fashioned Danish doughnuts

Loire, Chenin Blanc (I missed the producer here)

The first dish was tangent to the oyster in delightfulness. Highly complex and so lovely. I can never say no to Jerusalem artichokes nor eel and this presentation was pretty and savoury. Note the soup that stays only on the right side of the apple-eel bridge. Marvellous.

Lovely batter balls

The bisque was accompanied with light and tasty mother-in-law-recollecting æbleskiver – batter balls and apple compote.

Turbot from the north sea as burning love
Lardo, potato sabayonne, roasted onions & wild watercress

2006 Domaine Leflaive, Mâcon-Verzé

Next was the turbot served with characterful garnish that supported the turbot very well and also improved the whole impression of the dish. Excellent.

Fried froie gras & parridge made from plums
Cocoa beans, prunes & honey cake

2007 Felton Road, Pinot Noir New Zealand

Now, the fried foie gras was accompanied with plums that gave a good portion of sourness and fruitiness to match the fine-quality goose liver. A nice dish, but it didn’t have that exclusive touch which gleamed the first ones.

Beef (entrecôte?) with mushrooms á la crème & wood sorrel
Cep, brown clamshell mushroom, chantarelles & breadcrumb

2000 Château Lauduc, Bordeaux

At this point it was like the gastronomic imagination had completely left Herman. Alright, I asked for a different main course than pigeon, which I didn’t fancy that evening. When debating the main course with the waiter I said that I would be perfectly happy without none if they weren’t able to offer something else. After all, I wasn’t exactly starving at that point and there were also both cheese and dessert to come. Anyway, I was offered entrecôte which I accepted.

The problem here was not only the bad quality of the meat (part of it wasn’t possible to chew) but also the fact that it was cooked the exact same way as the poultry and that didn’t suit it at all. The topping was truffles crumble, but lacked the flavour. The mushrooms á la crème had a nice cep-scent but the taste was sexless and completely without distinction. A disappointing dish.

Danish farm cheeses with corresponding garniture & pumpernikkel
2005 Domaine Bott-Geyl, Gewürztraminer

Schloesselreben L’Exception, Alsace

A short break and we moved on to the cheeses of solely Danish kinds and each one paired with different fruit fitment. I was impressed by these cheeses because of their variety, quality and taste. I have a big soft spot for French cheese but these Danish ones easily made me just as happy.

Junket mousse with dark berries & terragon
Brown sugar, liquorice & fennel

1998 Chateau la Casenove, 15/10 V.D.N, Riversaltes Ambre

The final dish hit the level of the first two courses and offered sophistication and complexity and wasn’t too sweet. I liked the fact of including ingredients atypical for a dessert such as fennel for example. Excellent.

Tower of cake, cake and more cake

Unfortunately the kitchen hurried the southern Jutland cake, cakes and more cake so I couldn’t really eat all of them. Well, one of each I mean. But the ones I tried were good.

I normally consider the set of wine pairings being good value for money, and I was therefore curious to try what Herman’s sommelier, who’s name I don’t know by the way, would choose for each dish. He didn’t impress me. Why not? First of all the wines were served at too warm. They may have had the perfect temperature in the bottle, but after one minute in the glass each pouring was loosing touch and the personality fizzled out. This alone may have caused my displeasure. Maybe I should state a disclaimer: I’m highly sensitive about temperatures. But, what I’m sure of however was that the Domaine Leflaive, Mâcon-Verzé left more body and a longer finish to wish for. Yes, you cannot expect the Mâcon to be as fulfilling as a Burgundy village, but comparing with Mâcon from other producers not as esteemed as Anne-Claude, some of these have been more fulfilling to me. The Felton Road Pinot Noir was okay (no oak), very fruity of course, and somewhat cool in expression but without the depth and sophistication that characterises the lovely red Burgundies.

Bordeaux 2000 is an excellent year but this Château Lauduc left me a bit puzzled – like it lacked something, fruit maybe or simply to have the right temperature. What I mean is, it lacked distinction.

I liked the Bott-Geyl, Gewürztraminer and it went well with the cheeses. It was aromatic, I like that for some reason, and so was the Chenin Blanc which offered a full bodied and greatness too. The nicest surprise was the wine accompanying the dessert, the Chateau la Casenove, 15/10 V.D.N, Riversaltes Ambre. It was rich in texture, full-flavoured and with a wonderful but only slight, highly balanced, bitter note and tempted with other spices. It made me think of pine trees and resembled a port-sherry mix. Too sweet dessert wines are not my thing, so this wine was great and it matched the mousse perfectly.

This write-up is from pure memory. I didn’t take notes this evening as my priority was the party. Speaking of which, it seemed like it was the server’s priority as well and seemed a bit overdone and too disturbing to me.

All in all very nice food. I’d surely like to return – also to give the wines a second chance. The dining room has a classy feeling to it that I fancy and feel comfortable with. Apart from the main course the food was very good to stunning, in glimts. Especially I was happy to see some new snacks that didn’t seem to be copied from somewhere else I had just been visiting.

It’s Thomas’ desire to touch people’s emotions by invoking memories. I only learned this last week when I started to write this post about my Herman experience. I didn’t realise, for example, that one of the courses was an interpretation of  the old classic Danish dish ‘Burning Love’, which I haven’t eaten since cookery class at school, by the way. Perhaps I would have don, if I were dining alone. The only food that gave me a flash back were the batter balls. Anyway, it might have been my fantastic company that stole all my attention that evening. If that’s the case, it was worth every second of it. Thanks guys!

Thank you Thomas for the very good food – I’ll be back for more!

18 Responses to “What About Herman?”

  • It is in fact a shame that Jacob Kocemba is stoping at Herman, this might change things specially under the service point of view. We interview him a few month ago regarding a new restaurant booking site to find the best deals around you. see the video here tablejungle.com/blog

  • Hey Neil
    Yeah I noticed you on FS 😉 I totally agree, Herman is wonderful! Thanks for your update!


  • Just to update this thread nearly 2 years on – I had an excellent lunch at Herman yesterday. In fact it exceeded my expectations. Thoroughly recommended!


  • Thomas,
    Thanks very much for stating your opinion about your Herman visit. It really sounds like that fact of the famous visitor, your evening there was unusual. Sorry to hear that you didn’t get to experience the bar.

    Hey Ecocozina!
    Thanks for your comment! 🙂


  • Great article. I met Chef Herman in the Danish Embassy in Washington DC and he is great !

  • Hi Trine,

    I was @ Herman yesterday.

    It was a business dinner, which I was hosting, so I had many things to concentrate about – other than the food.

    Special night there as US foreign secretary Condoleezza Rice was in the building, so there where police everywhere. We should have started in the lovely bar, but for security reasons we couldn’t go there. So where had a drink in the restaurant and I dinner began 45 minutes earlier than planned.

    The restaurant is really beautiful – with all the lights from Tivoli and it’s truly a little pearl.

    The service was extremely professional and personal – they get a top notch rating from me.

    Food was good – small dishes and fairly light (me like), but overall I missed the last magic, from great to spectacular.

    Wine was a bit expensive priced – we just went for the wine menu, which was fair, but nothing more.

    Overall – I will come back and I could easily see wife and I dine there, just for the romantic atmosphere and maybe stay in one of the Nimb Hotel rooms.

    Best from,


  • Wow, Bo. What a sympathetic boss you have! And a nice taste in wines. Thank you SOOOU much for writing thoroughly about your experience there! 😀
    Yes, I need to try that hot dog as well 🙂 Let me know how you like it if you get to taste it before I do!

    My boss is nice too. We’re visiting the Diplomat for this year’s Christmas dinner. Obviously I won’t be able to publish any photos if I decide to do a write up. I’m very excited about it because of the (pleasant) reputation. New world wines is not really my thing, but as usual I am open to give them a try.

    And PS. noma is this Thursday HURRRAAAAAAA. Will post it soon after I am (soon) done with my Scotch Kitchin review.

  • I was so lucky that I got a seat facing Tivoli and at the same time could see the kitchen in the window:-)

    We had 4 appetizers, crispy smoked pork skin, oyster with kålpølse, fried asparagus potato with fuglekvidder (skinkesalat from Aalbæk)and brændende kærlighed made as a æbleskive with red beet marmelade.
    With the appetizers we had Moet & Chandon Rose Imperial…excellent:-)

    Our first course was a chestnut bisque with seared scallops, caviar, pickled mushrooms and raw chestnuts, the wine was a Riesling from Emmerich Knoll 2006 Loibner Vinothekfüllung Smaragd Wachau – complemented each other very well and probably one of the best Rieslings I have had.

    The turbot was very delicate and tasty, many of my colleagues thought this to be a weak dish because it was not very innovative – but in my opinion the taste was so good that innovation didnt matter. I believe I have read you have had the 2000 Mersault from Leflaive at one of your dinners so no need to tell you about that one:-)

    The seared foie gras was perfectly matched by the red beets but actually the piece of liver was a little too big… Our boss had chosen to leave the wine menu for this dish and we were served a chilled pinot noir from Cloudy Bay NZ.

    Now we reached the highlite of the evening… A pre main course of Labskovs. In the bottom of a silver bowl were two pieces of duck (from the leg) which had cooked for a very long time in its own fat, potatoes and tyttebær… when served the waiter added a little knob of butter and karse. The butter came from their own dairy production and when this melted it just made a world of difference to this dish.

    The main course of duck was the least exiting dish, tasted very good but not really more than that. The wine was Sassicaia 2004 and this made the main course a little more interesting.

    The cheeses were danish farm cheeses and unfortunately the waiter forgot to present these for us – at this time the generous refilling of the wine had started to take affect and dont really remember too much other than they were good. Again our boss chose to leave the wine menu, this time for good and we were served 2004 Ducru Beaucaillou St. Julien, I am glad he did because Hermans sommerlier recommended we had champagne for the cheeses.

    The sweet and cold christmas adventure was a liqurish (bad spelling) parfait with cinnamon, caramel and an orange sauce – dont like liqurish too much but together with the orange this was a superb dessert. 2003 Ch. Suduiraud – I love Sauternes and this didnt dissapoint me.

    I am not sure but I think the sønderjyske kagebord is standard, nevertheless it was good and nice to finish of the great dinner we had. With the kagebord we got Silval 2001 port.

    This is definately a place I would want to visit again, if not for their dinner then for the hot dogs:-)

    Looking forward to reading about your next visit to Noma:-)

  • Hey Bo,
    That’s great news! Were you sitting in the restaurant with the view to Tivoli? Well, it’s my impression that you can’t really expect the same service level for banquet, so if that was the only thing that wasn’t top notch, then I must have been a great night! 😀

  • Hi Trine,

    Finally had my Herman experience…and what I night that was:-)

    Food was excellent, the wines we had were perfect, the only little thing that wasnt was the service. But when you are a party of 26 I guess thats ok. The waitresses were all very sweet and helpfull, one waiter offered me to send pictures of all the dishes by email – maybe a polite way to ask me not to take pictures all the time.

    I dont know if anything was missing as you have described, I guess I have to go there again to find out:-)

  • Well Trine, you know how it is, can also read in danish.
    Difficult some time but it´s close to our swedish 🙂


  • Hi Tine,

    I have never been to Kiin Kiin – but have met Henrik, when he was at The Paul.

    I know Jan from Søllerød very well – he is Denmark’s best host.

    I have just booked a table at Hermann the 4th of December – business, so no camera ;-(.

    Have a nice weekend,

    Best from,


  • Thomas,
    To be perfectly honest I didn’t sense the same warmth with the service as I do at noma. They are exceptionally good at that – as is Henrik at Kiin Kiin (- have you ever been there by the way?) – or Jan at Søllerød of course. Having said that, sometimes just by talking it’s possible to soften and loosen the service a bit. Well, it’s my experience.

    Hei Zwampen
    Thanks your for your comment! I’m curious to know where you’ve heard about Herman? Oh, have you seen Allan’s review? It’s in Danish and he loved the place.


  • Hi Trine,
    I have bin reading about this restaurant couple of times, funny to read your review ! The soup looked wonderful with a nice twist on it.


  • Hi Trine,

    Thank you for the camera tips – I have to download the newest version of Picasa 3.0 – I only use the program for a good overview of all my pictures and to rectify the imbalance in the picture.

    I will try to get a business dinner at Herman first – as my wife has a tendency to dislike restaurants with too much informality (she loves Noma and Geranium) and I sense Herman is leaning in that direction – I could be wrong.

    Best from,


  • Hi Bo!
    Long time no see 🙂 And thank you so much for your very sweet comment. And thanks for pointing out who is the sommelier!
    I really hope I don’t sound too disappointed, as it wasn’t my intension. But I honestly expected to be more pleasantly surprised by the wines. One nice thing though, I forgot: They were not shy of re-filling the the Bordeaux.
    I imagine you will have a great Herman experience. Wow lucky you!

    Hi Thomas

    Thank you so much. You’re too kind!
    (I noticed a few clumsy phrases so have fine tuned my review a little;).

    Um, there’s a simple answer to the dark background – it was dark. I’ll try to explain. We sat in black leather arm chairs with very low seats and low tables between them. As the floor is of dark wood and the light sparse as well, the angle forced me to capture the floor/the chair like that – I’m pointing towards a dark spot. As far as I remember I shot this at 400 ISO. The crispyness was enhanced by some extra sharpen and also I think that the reflections in the silver plate enhanced it too 😉 (Btw, this photo enhanced in Picasa).

    As to my excitement or lack of it. You’re spot on. Something was missing without knowing precisely what that was. Apart from my concerns about the wine and the main course, food and service was right and helpful. Flawless.

    I think what I’m left with is similar to what I experienced at Pierre Gagnaire. Perhaps what I was missing was more personality in general, more sharpness and distinction from the food and wine. Yes, I think that’s it. Thanks very much for making me considering this once more.

    Very best to both of you fom

  • Hi Trine,

    Once again a great report, and thank you for including me under your blog favorites.

    Camera first – Love your pictures – curious how you get the background so dark and still hold the crispy light on the dish in focus – the picture of “Crispy pork fat and smoke” – which is my favorite shot.

    It’s funny, because I sense that you felt Herman was really nice, but not really getting you ecstatic.
    Several of my colleagues have tried it (think they forgot to invite me ;-). They all gave somewhat the same impression like your report – good, but not fantastic.
    The concept of bringing Old Danish dishes to life and even bending the rules somewhat is for sure something which is tickling my curiosity. The book “Burning love” is really beautiful, with crispy pictures of Claes Bech-Poulsen, but I can’t really say that I was eager to have a taste of the dishes or even have a go with them myself.

    However, true judgment has to be done in real life, so maybe I should try Herman in near future.

    Best from,


  • Hi Trine,

    For your information the sommerlier at Herman is Jacob Kocemba and is the unofficial european sommerlier champion.

    Sorry to hear that you weren´t too pleased with your visit, I am going there for my companys christmas lunch in November so I hope they improve:-)

    Thanks for your wonderfull blog, as always a pleasure to follow your gastromic adventures


Comments are currently closed.