It's not too hard to find amazingly good food in Aarhus — if you're willing to spend a lot of money. Since my mom is visiting, I got to go out for French food again tonight, and Lonely Planet recommended the Klassisk Vinbar & Bistro, a cosy kaffe south of the train station, in what seems to be the up-and-coming food neighborhood in town.
We got there early — we had spent the day walking around Mosegaard Museum (which was awesome) — and were seated immediately but told that the kitchen wouldn't open until 6pm, would we like some wine to start? So we got a bottle of the house white, a nice dry Chardonnay form Chile, and were given some time to try to make heads or tails of the menu. (The menu has one page of food, and three pages of wines.) One waiter, whose name matches my sister's, apologized that she didn't know what the fish was; soon, another waiter came by, was surprised that the first waiter hadn't explained tonight's menu, and walked us through it.
The restaurant offers about six appetizers, which came with high recommendation, and around two entrés: the fish (white fish, without skin or bones, wrapped around a mix of sweet peppers, onions, and chanterelles, and baked in the oven, then served with a cream sauce, which had been cooked with some mussels, and boiled baby yellow potatoes and fried potato skins), or the pork (shank, marinaded twenty four hours in wine and garlic, and then flambéed with more wine, and served with mashed potatoes). Not long after we had been given the menu rundown, the kitchen brought out the first batch of bread, and we got a basket of slices of straight-from-the-oven sweet battard, served with a delicate rouille.
Ultimately, we decided to share one serving of the fish and three appetizers (the waiter had suggested that four appetizers was probably enough food for three, and that the dozen escargot was definitely a full meal). We skipped the chicken liver pâté (tastes strongly of liver, said the waiter) and the mussels served with a wine-and-cream sauce (too much like last night), and asked for the half-dozen escargot (served with garlic butter in a ceramic escargot pan), the chèvre (a slice of bread, melted with tasty and well-salted cheese, and served over a small salad of gerkins, olives, mixed greens, grapes, and a red wine vinaigrette), and the gravad laks (which had a different Danish name). Gravlax consists of salmon that has been cured in a mixture of sugar, salt, dill, and pepper for a week, and then sliced thin — in our case, the waiter did the slicing at the table. It was served with a small salad matching that of the chèvre, a slice of baguette with dill-butter, and a sweet hoisin-like black sauce of burnt sugar and some savory yeasty flavors that we couldn't place.
To conclude the dinner, we first eyed the soufflé on the dessert menu, until we decided that the parenthetical Danish read "order ahead of time", and then asked about the crêpe suzette. Sadly, this would take a long time to make — the waiter who cut our salmon is also a bit of a sous chef, but was busy serving the flambe pork and would not be available to make the crepes. Would we like the crème brûlée? No? How about an off-menu tarte tatin? Yes? Excellent. We got one to share among the three, and what came was a five-inch tarte with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. It was very good.
If you are in Aarhus, you should find this restaurant, on 65 Jaegergaardsgade (connected to the 67 Kaffe), and show up early — it fills up, and they will not seat you at a table for which your party is too small. The walls are covered with shelves of bottles of alcohol (above us was probably a thousand dollars worth of whiskey, another wall had many syrups for mixed drinks, and the other room was filled with red wine), the kitchen is closet-sized (the bartender/waiter did not have a bar at which to mix her drinks; instead, she would use whatever nearby table was open, or at least had some space at it; she always tasted the wine before serving it, to make sure it was good), and the bathroom wall is covered with framed restaurant awards.