Don’t expect minimalist Scandinavian design when you walk into Alchemist.
The Copenhagen restaurant lurches dramatically to the other end of the minimalism scale – every aspect, from the dishes to the dining room and even the doorway, is extreme in the best way possible.
It reopened its doors – which are, incidentally, four metres high, 2.5 metres wide and made of burnished bronze – on 4 July after a two-year refurbishment to expand the seating capacity from 15 to 40 and make the space 20 times larger.
Everything is bigger, better and on a grander scale. Your meal? Fifty courses, carefully conceived by head chef and co-owner Rasmus Munkto to provide commentary on world issues. Your reservation? The whole experience takes up to five hours. Your table? Overseen by a twinkling night sky simulation.
The graffiti room at Alchemist.
Set inside a warehouse formerly used as a backdrop storeroom for The Royal Danish Theatre, the dramatic dining room features 22-metre-high ceilings in the main lounge and several different spaces that diners traverse over the course of the evening.
The centrepiece, though, is the planetarium, a dome 18 metres in diameter that flickers with stunning video throughout the night. At one moment, you might see the lights of an indoor aurora borealis, at another, giant jellyfish bobbing against the sky.
Live performers flit around the restaurant – appearing in the light-and-sound installation at one moment, in front of walls adorned with New York-inspired graffiti from artist Lady Aiko the next – but guests don’t need to take part.
And let’s not forget the ambient music, a specially designed soundscape by Danish composer Lars Bork Andersen.
"Scoby bloom" at Alchemist
Though the interiors tell part of the story, “most of the drama actually happens on the plates”, the restaurant’s official line reports.
Each of the fifty courses – known here as “impressions” – are imbued with a deeper meaning and are impressively executed. “Food for thought” is served inside a model of a human head and pays tribute to foie gras producer Eduardo Sousa. “Scoby bloom” appears as a violently pink flower but is in actual fact made from the yeast used to brew kombucha and coloured with dried hibiscus flowers. Cod dish “Plastic fantastic”, which on first impression looks like a scrunched lolly wrapper, acknowledges that a third of cod caught in Northern Europe contain plastic (the translucent substance is made from dried cod skin). It’s all quite serious – but in the most fantastical way.
"Plastic fantastic", Alchemist
Each experiences comes with matched wine pairings – from the three-story, 10,000-bottle strong cellar – or non-alcoholic drinks.
The three-level wine cellar at Alchemist
For one night here, you need to set aside between four to five hours – this isn’t a dinner to scoff and ‘gram before venturing out for post-booking drinks. Each party is seated individually from 6pm until 9.30pm.
As for how much it will set you back? Around $536 (DKK2500) for just the food and up to $1061 (DKK 4955) for the exclusive wine pairing. It all depends on just how OTT you’re feeling, and whether you can snag a reservation.
When bookings opened, the first three months’ worth sold out immediately and the wait-list is already at least 5000 people long.
Image credit: Claes Bech Poulsen