Sometimes you discover something great where you would least expect it. One of those places is Malling Kro located in the village, Malling just 15 kilometres south of Aarhus, the second biggest city in Denmark.
‘Kro’ is the Danish word for an inn, and you can sleep here as well as just dine and take the train back to Aarhus.
Malling Kro had a hidden treasure in its basement; a wine list of such good quality that it has been awarded the ‘Best of Excellence Award’ by Wine Spectator; a prize that only six other restaurants in Denmark have to their name as well. Along with two fellow bloggers from Gastromand.dk and Byens Spiseguide, respectively, I went to discover this underestimated place outside the city to find out if it was worth the trip. As we are all doing an article, I will be writing this in English to reach out a bit further than our Danish borders.
A Malling celebrity
Malling is not widely known for that many things but in addition to the inn the city has raised a true international wine rock star. Her name is Marie von Ahm. She is the co-owner of the very exclusive Champagne company Böerl & Kroff and she does consulting for a wide range of wine producers around the world as well. She is also a respected wine critic; she is the only female member of the Grand Jury Européen and she does tastings for James Suckling.
Of course Marie von Ahm has a relation to the local inn.
“Coming from Malling it is a true pleasure for me to say a few things about this wonderful restaurant. I have frequently been lucky enough to enjoy the magic of this very special place and friends and family are also regulars.
Malling Kro is one of those few rare gems. Difficult to find, hidden there in the hilly outskirts of Aarhus in the small town called Malling. The inn is run by a fantastic couple with extraordinary skills as to food and wine. Owner Rico Jørgensen is in charge of the wine cellar, and what a cellar! One of the greatest wine lists in the country, it has been put together with great care and knowledge. Not only does it boast back vintages of many of the world’s most revered wines, but it also has a highly personal selection of lesser known small producers. Rico’s knowledge is profound and driven by an infectious passion making a dinner there. An unforgettable experience. Evenings like these sometime tend to be a danger to your budget, but at Malling Kro this is actually not (necessarily) the case. Prices are kept at an extraordinarily reasonable level, unless of course you decide to buy that bottle of DRC,” she says.
After arriving in Malling the friendly manager Rico Jørgensen welcomed us, and we were seated in a nice corner of the dining room. Right afterwards, he served us an aperitif, which you would really think was Champagne if you did not know the wine. Coincidently, I attended an interesting tasting of the Nyetimber Wines from South England, so already I knew the 2009 Classic Cuvée. It is made like Champagne, of the same grape varieties as well, and the climate is very similar to the one in Champagne. The wine smelled of mushrooms and had a refreshing lemony acidity and a mineral finish; great start.
Read a review of Nyetimber (in Danish) here
Shortly afterwards, an appetiser arrived. It was a poached oyster in cucumber juice and a delicious oyster mayonnaise. Small croutons of rye bread gave a nice crispiness to the balanced dish.
We moved on to a little bite of excellence. Slices of raw marinated scallops were lying in their shell surrounded by variations of pumpkin; marinated raw slices, a smooth cream and a delicious crumble of pumpkin seeds. Again, the balance in the dish was perfect with the acidity, textures and sweetness from the scallop.
Along with the scallop we had a 2011 Rosé de Diel from Sclossgut Diel in Nahe, Germany. The Pinot Noir (or Spätburgunder in Germany) had a nice bitterness and aromas of berries but I missed a bit of acidity in the wine though.
Another great serving followed the lovely scallop dish. Pigeon breast with a slice of perfectly cooked foie gras were the stars of the plate. There was a super delicious ball with confit of pigeon leg in breadcrumbs. The leg was cooked in foie gras fat and seasoned with cognac and herbs. Blackberries brought some sweetness to the dish and a puree of beetroot, which gave the dish an earthy touch; pure tastiness.
Burgundian Pinot Noir is a classic with pigeon, and luckily we had a great one to go with the dish: VINTAGE? Savigny-les-Beaune “Aux grands Liards” from Simon Bize et Fils; cherries and earthiness on the nose and the richness and juicy texture cut through the fatty goose liver and leg confit.
Perfect rump roast
The final savoury dish was the most tender piece of rump roast I have ever had; perfectly pink all the way through with a crispy layer of fat on top. It was served with thin shavings of cauliflower and pieces of brussel sprouts and at the table a phenomenal sauce of different mushrooms with such an intense flavour.
In the glass we had a full bodied red, 2006 Cuvée Persia from Domaine de Fontrèche in Cotes de Ventoux in France. Made of almost 100 percent Syrah it was a powerful, fruity wine with plenty of aromas from the oak barrels as well. A bit too heavy for my taste but it suited the dish well.
The menu contained a cheese serving as well. I enjoy when a cheese serving is made into an actual dish, in this case a creamy and fresh goat’s cheese was filled in a shell of short crust pastry. An acidic pear puree gave freshness to the cheese along with some bitter slices of radish. It was a great dish but the real star was the accompanying wine, 1995 Graacher Domprobst Auslese from Jos. Christoffel Jr. from the Moselle River in Germany. It showed all the great classic elements of an older top German Riesling; Petroleum apples, purity, acidity and bitterness to complete the sensation with the dish.
Before the actual dessert arrived a nice cleanser was served. It was an elderflower sorbet with an elderflower consommé on top and at the table an elderberry liquor, Crème De Sureau made in Denmark, was poured over. The light flavours and the freshness of the flowers worked well with the very intense liquor.
To finish the great dinner we got a fluffy cream of skyr, an Icelandic fromage frais-like product rich on proteins. It was flavoured with sea buckthorn to give even more freshness. Inside the cream was a very concentrated chocolate ganache and on top it was sprinkled with a crumble of nutty marzipan. The most excellent quenelle of heavy ice cream with dark chocolate made it all to into a beautiful symbiosis. The whole thing was lying on a pattern of intense sea buchthorn puree, which looked like a beautiful orange tree crown.
Rico Jørgensen likes classics and another one was served with the dessert: 2005 Taylor’s Terra Feita Vintage Port was a smooth wine with enough freshness and elegance to match the dessert. The nose had a hint of chocolate and liquorice while the taste was full of black berries and black currant. I was a bit surprised to see a red wine accompanying the dessert but the notes of chocolate and the actual chocolate in the dish worked very well together.
Malling Kro is definitely worth a little detour if you are in Aarhus. The food, executed by head chef Mikkel Korsgaard Sørensen, is excellent and founded on the French traditions and Nordic ingredients. The wine list is worth a story itself and Rico Jørgensen makes sure that you get the most out of it through his well-chosen pairings.
One could easily tend to think that all the good restaurants are situated in Copenhagen but the province hides a treasure of interesting dining experiences. This will certainly not be my last visit to Malling Kro.