There are not many things in this life of which I am certain, but I can tell you one: I was meant to be Scandinavian. I may be neither tall nor blonde but I have an unrivalled collection of woolly jumpers and a penchant for fish that no daily slab of Tesco-value smoked salmon can satisfy. MATR, a new dining experience by Danish chef Jonas Lorentzen, promises to bring the very best of the Nordic culture to Hampstead, so I went along to put my credentials to the test.
Jonas and Naina Lorentzen have left Denmark to spread their Scandi goodness in Hampstead, hosting up to 12 people for a night of seven-course feasting in their flat. Set in the swanky suburbs of North London, their family home has been transformed into the perfect spot for a dinner party. The front room has been cleared to make space for a long white table, the lights turned off and replaced with flickering candles, and soft jazz tinkles in the background.
Food and Drink
If you have even the tiniest foodie bone in your body, it’s more than likely that you’ve heard of NOMA, the two-Michelin-starred Danish restaurant that has been voted as the best in the world four times. It’s a bit of a no brainer then, that the New Nordic Food Manifesto, created by NOMA co-founder Claus Meyer, is pretty delicious. The rules are uncomplicated: focus on simple, fresh and pure flavours using seasonal and local products in a traditional way.
Using this theory, Jonas has devised his seven-course tasting menu; it’s vegetable heavy and full of rich Nordic flavours. Over the course of several hours, we were fed a series of light yet flavour-filled dishes; braised cauliflower was doused in buttermilk with a chervil oil; soft monkfish came with a warming pumpkin jus and gamey pigeon breast was served with berries in a dish straight out of viking territory.
As someone who considers sweet corn the main component of her five a day, Jonas’ cooking skills spruced up even the most adventurous vegetables; half an onion was braised in beer and served with ‘dirt’ - a mixture of rye bread, malt flour, porcini mushrooms and toasted walnuts - while a cabbage was almost meaty in flavour and accompanied by seaweed and mushrooms. All seven courses were matched with natural bottles from Forest Wines in Walthamstow, starting from fresh whites, through to a fruity orange wine from Sicily and ending with a sweet dessert wine.
Held in their flat with room for up to 12 people, dining at MATR is an intimate experience. Our hostess, Naina, chatted to us about life in Denmark and led the group through any awkward moments while Jonas left the kitchen to quickly tell us about each course and the wine we would be drinking. This is Hampstead, so the crowd were all pretty professional, ranging from a film director to the world’s best eyelash extension artist, everyone had fascinating stories to tell.
Seven courses sounds like a lot but following the New Nordic Food Manifesto, the food was light and packed with intense flavour. MATR was a great way to experience a taste of Danish cuisine without having to leave Zone 2 and Jonas Lorentzen may be the only man to have ever gotten me to eat all my vegetables.