L’estragon: Making memories with shared dining
By Nicolai Lisberg | Photos: L’estragon
At L’estragon in Aarhus, the ambition is to provide guests with a casual dining experience by focusing on local, organic ingredients and innovative flavour combinations.
It is said that the best things in life are meant to be shared, so why should a meal be any different? That is one of the key philosophies at the neighbourhood restaurant L’estragon. That is why they have been offering their guests a casual dining experience for years.
“Bottom line is that all restaurants want to give their customers something special, but the way we do it here is a bit different. I sometimes try to educate our guests a little bit, but we would really like for them to share their meal and drinks with each other. We are inspired by the Latin and southern European way of enjoying a meal, where you share all courses, whether you are two or ten around the table. We hope to create an atmosphere that encourages people to leave the outside world and be absorbed in their culinary experience, where all they have to focus on is what’s on and around the table,” says Sisse Budtz-Jørgensen, part owner of L’estragon.
The restaurant is located in a very cosy part of Aarhus with room for 25 guests inside, and more outside when the weather is good. It’s open every day of the week, except Mondays, and on Sundays it offers a special five-course menu, adapted according to local produce in season.
“One might think that serving something our guests haven’t tried before could scare them away, but it has actually turned out to have the opposite effect. Our guests really enjoy the element of surprise and innovation that they are met with, because they get to try something they wouldn’t normally eat,” says Budtz-Jørgensen.
Experience and innovation
In general, sustainable cooking is a virtue at L’estragon. They use organic food, get their produce from local farmers and fishermen, and the menu varies depending on the season. The dogmas they have set for themselves require the chefs to be skilled, brave, and innovative when it comes to putting together the perfect menu.
At the moment they are experimenting with a new dessert made from violets in rum and dried blood oranges mixed with pistachio ice cream. “The combinations are really something else, and I think it distinguishes us from other restaurants. We want to pique our guests’ curiosity, and we can only do that because our chefs are extremely skilled and experienced and they enjoy experimenting with ingredients. Being a chef here is rather challenging, because you never know what exactly is in season and for how long, but it also makes everything a bit more interesting for them and for our guests, who might be familiar with the vegetables served, but not the way there are prepared,” says Budtz-Jørgensen.
Although L’estragon uses the ingredients of the seasons, they preserve some of the flavours throughout the entire year. For example, asparagus are in season now and are on the menu, but the chefs also make oil from the peel. This way, they can bring back the taste of asparagus and summer during the winter months. Another example is preserving rose petals for their homemade juices and in syrups and soups, so they can add the scent to dishes with lamb later in the summer.
“I’d like to think that we are a restaurant working with memories. That we use memories in our courses, and that is one of the reasons we have a lot of regulars. Some live close by, and some come from far away but spend their holidays around here,” says Budtz-Jørgensen. “We have even had guests who celebrated their confirmations here, and years later their wedding. This is what it’s all about. Creating memories around a dining experience.”
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