Best of the Best 2012: Dining: Geist

With its long, brushed-steel bar and sleek tables, Copenhagen’s Geist (+45.33.13.37.13, www.restaurantgeist.dk) does not look like the typically austere New Nordic restaurant. Nor, with its buzzy atmosphere, does it feel like one. But chef Bo Bech—who at his previous restaurant Paustian began highlighting pristine local products the same year Noma did—shows the same dedication to place as his acclaimed neighbor across the bay. Dishes at Geist are small and designed to be shared, but they come loaded with flavor; witness the plateful of simple, vibrant carrots, charred until their texture and flavor recall nothing so much as honey. Or the fantastically delicious bowl of potatoes, topped with chunks of sweet crab and mashed with an unspeakable amount of good Danish butter. Like other young chefs stirring up the dining scene in Europe, Bech (who earned a Michelin star at Paustian) brings impeccable technique to an otherwise casual restaurant. But at the jazzy, fun Geist, he does it in a way that emphasizes pleasure over philosophy.

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