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Le Sommelier



Bistro Sommelier

Meat Me at MASH

By Julie Ralphs

MASH is an acronym for Modern American Steak House. A high-end restaurant that recently opened in Copenhagen, offering the real deal in terms of top USDA Prime quality and more. With an ambience that’s almost like you’re in mid-town Manhattan.

In the States, some steak houses have attained cult status and are like cultural institutions. The most famous carry with them associations that endear themselves to patrons forever. Like Smith & Wollensky, whose slogan used to be ”If steak were a religion, this would be its cathedral.” It was also considered “The steak house to end all arguments” by New York Times critic Ruth Reichl. And Gallagher’s, which has a history of being a speakeasy when it opened in 1927 in the New York theatre district, attracting actors, celebrities and sports heroes, like Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sylvester Stallone, Robert de Niro and others, whose photos adorn the walls.

Restaurant entrepreneur Jesper Boelskifte had a different plan. Coming from a meat-consuming country like Denmark, he saw a hole in the market for that genre of cuisine. In tandem with MASH partners Francis Cardenau, two-star Michelen chef from Kommandanten, Rasmus Oubæk, an acclaimed chef with his own restaurant and Erik Gemal, a master at managing and motivating the staff, Jesper wanted to up the ante by introducing a steakhouse on a higher level.

Jesper has been extremely successful with food concepts. Umami is a chic Japanese cuisine with a French accent and a truly entrancing atmosphere, where the florescent lighting changes color to alter the mood and the experience of the meals. Le Sommelier is another endeavor, a luxury French bistro that’s featured in the book “Cool Restaurants Copenhagen” by Christian Datz & Christof Kullmann. “I believe in a balance of things. The Yin and Yang,” says Jesper. “A lot of attention on the Northern kitchen has focused on molecular gastronomy. MASH is the opposite of that concept. It’s back to basics in a very simple product on a very high level.”

Not your daddy’s steakhouse

Having witnessed a younger, hipper crowd reserving tables at steak houses in the US, MASH is aimed at the new generation. While rooms in Smith & Wollensky have been used in films like “The Devil Wears Prada” and “American Psycho”, and Gallagher’s retains the red and white checked table cloths with oak furnishings (but without the infamous coat-check girl), MASH makes its own style statement. With a décor that’s somewhere in between timeless classic and contemporary. As Jesper explains it, “We want to create restaurants that are just as valid in 10 years time as today.” With MASH, they followed a diner-like format using red leather booth seating and dark wood, adding thick rugs and chandeliers to make it more cozy and exclusive. “We also use crushed white towels to give it an authentic, butcher’s feel,“ adds Jesper.

The Rolls Royce of beef

For the haute carnivores among you, MASH has a range of mouth-watering offerings. Including rib eye and porterhouse steaks from Omaha, Nebraska, which are corn fed and certified as free from hormones. A variety of dry-aged Danish beef, naturally tenderized in a classic method of maturation which you don’t see much of in Europe anymore. And Wagyu Kobe-style from Jack’s Creek in Australia, considered the Rolls Royce of beef. Then there’s the grilled lobster, sea bass, turbot and chicken, with macaroni and cheese as an option. (Of course, MASH’s fresh version is far superior to the add-water-and-mix one, which brings a sentimental tear to most Americans.)

Let’s not forget the specially selected wine list. Jesper is the Chairman of the Sommelier Society of Denmark. Founded in 1989, it consists of seven honorary members who guide restaurateurs as to which wines are best suited for which dishes. Enjoy Vielles Vignes, Pinot Noir, Zapata Malbec, Castelnau de Suduiraut and Vine Hill Chardonnay, among many others. MASH also has an extremely popular bar, featuring an impressive list of other beverages and bubblies, such as Hemingway Daiquiris, Mint Juleps, Applejack Bitters, Manhattans and more.

Add to all that the generous portions of food, the energy, the buzz and you’ve got a juicy steakhouse attracting a clientele with lots of testosterone. What’s cooking when it comes to the next culinary concept? Jesper’s lips are sealed. Suffice to say he travels a lot and devotes his time to conceiving and developing delicious ideas on a platter. Until then, we strongly recommend a visit to MASH. Starting with a Ceasar salad, followed by a tantalizingly tender, limo-like Wagyu. Plus a classic side dish like crispy onion rings and creamed spinach, ending with the iconic cheesecake. The only thing you need to really feel like you’re in the big bad apple is an Al Pacino looking waiter with a heavy New York accent.