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Restaurante Nielsen

Nielsen, five years of gastronomic elegance

The centrally located restaurant Nielsen consolidates its position as one of the major references in the capital with a classic proposal with Nordic and creative touches.

The Nielsen restaurant, located in the heart of downtown Santa Cruz, has celebrated its fifth anniversary. Its Grande Cuisine proposal (French haute cuisine ) with Nordic and creative touches has become a gastronomic reference in the city, recommended by its own diners on the Tripadvisor platform, with reviews on Google, Facebook and by the experts of the Repsol Guide. The architects of this success are the Danish chef Danny Nielsen and the head waitress, Pili Acosta, who live this project with true passion. “You have to really like this because it requires total commitment,” they warn.

The restaurant has a large terrace and a room with tables on different levels. It also has a large bar, where you can also eat comfortably. Here every detail is taken care of, from the decoration to the quality of the products and the service. “We like our customers to feel at home and to enjoy themselves at all times without them noticing that we are paying attention to details. In the dining room everything has to flow in synchronization with the kitchen and the diners,” Pili Acosta emphasizes.

Born in Esbjerg (Denmark) on June 19, 1975, Danny Nielsen worked in some of the most renowned restaurants in Europe (all with Michelin stars). Already on the island, he worked at the Hotel Botánico, of the Loro Parque Group, at the now defunct restaurants El Covacho and El Gusto por el Vino (both in Santa Cruz and with a very successful trajectory), the Monkey Group and the Hotel San Roque in Garachico, until 2017 when he decided to launch his first gastronomic project.

Danny Nielsen’s menu for the fifth anniversary included new dishes, which may soon be added to the menu, given the acceptance they have received. To start, a red tuna with poached egg and light hollandaise sauce, really exquisite, and accompanied by the fresh and vibrant bubbles of Pol Roger Brut Reserve champagne, distributed by the Santa Cruz wine shop El Gusto por el Vino.

After showing off with the hollandaise, Nielsen opted for a beurre blanc (French for white butter) sauce to accompany a baked fish with raw and smoked XXL shrimp, a very typical technique in his country in which he is a true master. The dish was served with a Zarzal 2020, a white wine from Bodegas Emilio Moro, DO Bierzo. Made with the Godello variety, it is a balanced wine in which the soil is the protagonist.

For the main course, Danny Nielsen chose to grill a picaña (a cut of beef at hip level, first popularized in Brazil and then in Portugal, and known in Argentina as colita de cuadril). As garnish, a tartlet of shallots, spring onion and leek.

To accompany the carnivorous moment, a 100% tempranillo from Ribera del Duero called Malabrigo 2018 (named after the estate where the vines are grown), from Bodegas Cepa 21, was served. A superlative wine aged for 18 months, it has more body, color and structure due to the climatic oscillation experienced by the vines in the terroir, and is also a favorite of the head waitress. So you already know where the recommendations of the classic wine list of the restaurant will go, in which there are also references from the Canary Islands, Galicia and selected wineries.

A premium cheese board served as a pre-dessert to finish with a homemade cinnamon brioche served in a pan glazed with birch syrup. It is worthwhile to dwell on this detail, which Nielsen himself emphasized. Birch is a mountain tree native to northern Europe and Asia. Its sap is highly appreciated in other latitudes and is consumed as a tonic with multiple health benefits. Although it is an expensive product, since its production is limited, it is used in gastronomy to add sweet notes and nuances to recipes, such as Danny Nielsen’s, which he topped with a sweet salted caramel ice cream.

The final toast was a discovery worth noting now that celebrations are approaching. This was the Asturian ice cider Valverán, which in each bottle contains the flavor of 20 apples that spend a year in barrels, resulting in a shrinkage of 70%. What remains is authentic liquid gold, with irresistible toasted and caramel touches.

Having crossed the finish line of the first five years, the Nielsen team has set itself the challenge of keeping the kitchen open all day. In Combat Alley, the door opens at 1:00 p.m. for lunch and does not close until 10:30 p.m., when the last order enters the kitchen. Pili Acosta assures that the city “is very lively and there is a lot of tourism” eager to try the local gastronomy and enjoy the good weather on her terrace. In addition, his proposal has the advantage that Danny Nielsen is a polyglot, fluent in Russian, English, Danish, Swedish, French and other languages. “Sometimes we see people who stare at the terrace and when Danny speaks to them in their language, they sit down immediately,” adds the head waitress.

The restaurant is open from Monday to Saturday and every month launches one or more days with seasonal products or themed menus, with which they give a gastronomic interpretation to events in the city or special dates. And, as the owners point out, Santa Cruz today has a powerful gastronomic offer that makes it necessary for the restaurants to generate novelties and attractions in order to gain the loyalty of their clientele.

Asked about the key to the success of his restaurant, which other entrepreneurs dream of emulating, the Danish chef is categorical: “The most important thing is consistency. There’s no point in creating a magnificent recipe if you can’t guarantee that it will be at the same level every day. You can never give up on excellence.

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