The sky wasn’t blue and beautiful the way I had hoped for when we arrived at Henne Kirkeby Kro after three and a half hours’ drive from Copenhagen. I wanted the visit to be perfect and extraordinary. For months I had been looking forward to it and the closer we got to the big day, the 22nd of July, the more impatient I felt. Almost every night for the past month I had browsed the inn’s website, read the menu, dreamed about the wines and fantasised about the luxurious room I saw in the photos there. Everyone I know and every visit I have read about had said the same thing – Henne Kirkeby Kro is phenomenal. So, basically, expectations were astronomically high.
It’s the Skouboe family who now owns the inn. After it took over the inn from Hans Bech Thomsen in 2008 they have completely renovated it and made it international top class. The Skouboe family is rich. In 2002 Flemming Skouboe sold his shares in the glass fibre manufacturer LM Glasfiber for around 1.8 billion Danish kroner (∼ € 240,000,000), and – luckily – he decided to spend quite a few millions on turning Henne Kirkeby Kro into a worlds class gourmet inn.
Anyways, getting to the inn I was annoyed about the weather and the clouds, but in fact the overcast sky provided very good conditions for my photography.
As a typical, classical inn, Henne Kirkeby Kro is located right by the highway that leads people to the sea side beach of Henne Strand. There is a fair amount of traffic, but indoor you cannot really hear the sound from the road.
I had booked lunch (and dinner) and it was not a problem that we had arrived 45 minutes early – our table was ready and we were seated right away.
The “house” champagne
We were given the lunch menu and ordered glasses of the house champagne which was poured into Riedel stemware. Henne Kirkeby Kro offers a fixed lunch menu comprising 4 courses with the option of paired wines. Since we were going all-in the same evening I passed on the pairings and instead chose from the list of favourite dishes offered a la carte. There are 5 favourites to choose from, besides oysters from Venø island, cheese and desserts.
I opted for oysters (of course), the chef’s choice of a Salade Folle and the tartar. To accompany the food I picked the half bottle 2006 J.M. Boillot, Puligny Montrachet, Côte de Beaune. The wine was great, offered a huge minerality, in fact it was almost like I had flint up my nostrils. It was fruity and a very well-balanced wine. Perfect.
Then a spectacular amuse bouche arrived. The waiter infused the bowl with sea water and because of the dried ice at the bottom of the bowl, it started to smoke.
Two beige-coloured thin cut frozen oyster leaves decorated the new potatoes from the garden just outside the window, an oyster gel, dill and other herbs plus a green sauce. The taste was cool and perfectly balanced and very pure and distinct in both single flavours and with combinations amongst them.
By the first bite I felt a small blow to my stomach by pure marvel. This was absolutely fabulous. I felt like I had been caught with my pants down, bashful, because the excellency of it went far beyond my expectations – which I had feared were to high.
Whipped plain butter
Butter mixed with ramson onions and sprinkled with pumpkin seeds
Imagine the perfect and ideal taste of butter and there you have it. The taste of the local farm butter was creamy and really full of taste. The green butter with ramson onions had a slight sharp tone to it in a good way and it matched the more rich dishes very well.
Wheat baguette – freshly baked
Manitoba bun – both types of bread were so good
Oysters from Venø island
Allan Poulsen is the head chef of Henne Kirkeby Kro, and Danish Chef of the Year 2008. Allan brought us the native oysters from Venø island and welcomed us. The oysters were so pretty – the most perfect oysters I’ve ever seen. They were not released from the shell but could be easily lifted of by myself. Shallots and vinaigrette accompanied them.
Venø is an island in Limfjorden, the strait separating the northern part of Jutland from the main land. The oyster from Limfjorden may be the world’s most exquisite. It is very rich in taste and has a meaty tone to it. The taste of these Venø oysters was so fresh, very fulfilling and probably the best oysters au naturel I’ve ever had.
Chef’s Salad Folle
Next up was the salad. A great number of different salad leaves, herbs and flowers formed the basis of it. Additionally it comprised protein goodies of glaced lamb’s tongue, lamb’s heart, cured Norwegian lamb, braised sweetbread, raw shrimp, a big piece of sweet langoustine and chunks of an amazing and incredible, succulent Danish black lobster.
Again, the intensity of all the flavours and the high quality of the produce completely overwhelmed me. The lobster was full of sweet taste and cooked to perfection, in fact all of it were. The salad as a whole was fresh, delicate and completely balanced – just wonderful and very stimulating.
Finally we got to the tartar and a delicate scent of juniper infused the air. In the picture it looks like the herbs and flower leaves are overdosing the meat, which was hardly visible. But they weren’t. The tartar was just as rich, balanced and sharp as the preceding courses.
The portion was actually so big that I couldn’t finish it, regrettably.
We ordered coffee to ease digestion.
There were several different origins of the coffee bean to chose from. I picked Kenya. It offered a full-flavoured aroma and with the right amount of acidity.
Warm and fresh Madeleines
Caramel topped with caramel cream. A cherry sphere.
Brioche with sea-buckthorn and carrot marmalade
When we had guzzled the mignardises we were told that our room was ready. Time for a little walk to the old church next door and to the gardens, and then a little rest before the dinner.
To be continued… 🙂