Even before disciples of the New Nordic creed started making pilgrimages to Copenhagen’s Noma restaurant it was clear that the winds of culinary change were blowing in from that direction. The ethos that has made the cooking in Scandinavia so influential—fierce adherence to seasonality and respect for nature’s larder—may not seem particularly ground-breaking but for many a chef and restaurateur it prompted some sort of epiphany. The good news is that, thanks to the great Dane Claus Meyer, you don’t need to fly there to find out more. Agern is hidden at the Vanderbilt Hall end of Grand Central Terminal but has been designed with such understated elegance that you quickly forget where you are. The restaurant also leads into the Nordic-themed “Great Northern Food Hall” so it won’t be long before everyone in this part of town is in cable knit sweaters, discussing their own understanding of “hygge.” Ingredients like havgus, söl and ymer may not be familiar to all; nor perhaps will be the liberal use of techniques like pickling, fermenting or smoking. But, under the aegis of Icelandic chef Gunnar Gíslason, the kitchen uses these methods to deliver sharper, more defined and more natural flavors.
- MICHELIN guide inspectors