The look is sharp and precise. Every detail on the plate is well thought out and prepared. The place is Dining in the Dome. We are in Gødstrup, just a stone’s throw away from the new hospital in the western part of Central Jutland. Here – under a dome – every so often, Thomas Damgaard and his partner, Jacob Møller, open up and offer gourmet experiences of the highest quality.
Dining in the Dome is a pop-up restaurant that seats 85 guests. It is open by agreement – and only on announced days. You book a table, and then Thomas Damgaard and Jacob Møller decide what is served. The menu is set – and the only thing the guests know is that they are in for a surprise.
“We dictate a lot of conditions for our guests. This is because we can create good experiences that way and because it has to make sense financially, for us as well as the guests,” he says.
Steak in his blood
Thomas Damgaard is from a family who have tried their hand at many things. This family has left its very unique and decisive mark on Herning.
“It’s actually not something I’ve thought that much about. But yes, I do indeed believe that I bring something of my roots to the table,” he says.
Thomas’ grandfather was Aage Damgaard. He was the one who created the Angli shirt and, later on, the A Hereford Beefstouw restaurants. He put Herning on the map in terms of art, when he in 1973 had the painter Carl-Henning Pedersen decorate his shirt factory in Birk. And together with his brother Mads, he created egetæpper; an absolute cornerstone in Herning’s development.
Thomas’ father, Lars, continued Aage’s work in the restaurant industry. He made A Hereford Beefstouw into a chain of steak houses across Denmark, as well as in Sweden, Greenland and Australia.
And that is on one branch of the family tree in which Thomas Damgaard is now finding his own way as an entrepreneur.
Aesthetics and quality
Together with Jacob Møller, former chef in the Michelin star restaurant “Frederikshøj”, Damgaard was one of the first in Denmark to offer visits from a top chef at guests’ private homes. Later, he started Dining in the Dome, and the newest addition to his portfolio is the historic inn “Niels Bugges Kro”, close to Viborg.
“I bring with me the entire history of A Hereford Beefstouw. We share many of the same values. We both think aesthetics and quality are extremely important. And art; dining with us has to be an experience,” Thomas Damgaard says.
“My origins have taught me that the setting means everything. It is very important to how we thrive,” he says, and he uses the collaboration between A Hereford Beefstouw and sculptor Ingvar Cronhammar as an example of this.
“When you ask an artist to design a steak knife and a fork, then it’s because you take dining seriously. One might think it crazy to spend that much money on such a small thing, but it is part of demonstrating your dedication to quality and aesthetics, which I think is priceless,” Thomas Damgaard says.
He means what he says. His eyes are on fire, when he talks about art, aesthetics and quality. It is a passion for him – and the new business models leaves room for this.
“It is fine to talk about new Nordic and dogmas. We don’t have dogmas, we’d rather talk about quality. What we eat has to be the best, and the produce need to be fresh. The guests should also have quality – dining with us has to be an extraordinary experience. It should be fun to go to work, and it should be connected to the life we want aside from work. I think this is the most important aspect,” Thomas Damgaard says.