Noma doesn’t really need an introduction and neither does it’s chef, René Redzepi. “The best restaurant in the world” was definitely a good reason for me and some friends to visit Copenhagen after one of us managed to get a table for 8.
Not sure what to expect, but filled with excitement, I couldn’t resist doing some research. Here you can find a better review with more professional pictures for your viewing pleasure, because unfortunately, I only had my iphone with me to take pictures (and the lighting wasn’t very good).
The menu consisted out of a bunch of fast paced snacks with champagne, followed up with some more elaborate courses with wine pairing.
Snack 1: Nordic Coconut
They dropped this plate at both ends of the table and explained what we were having: a hollowed out potato with a lukewarm liquid with what I’d describe as Thai flavors: some coconut, some lemongrass. You were supposed to pick yours and pass the plate. Now I don’t mind doing this, I even like it more than the other end of the spectrum, but it just shows how Noma is more casual than what some people would expect.
The Nordic coconut wasn’t bad, but a bit weird to be having in this restaurant. Nobody really liked it and in my opinion, it didn’t really fit the menu.
EDIT: Reading in “A work in Progress” by René Redzepi, I discovered the lemongrass taste actually comes from a local plant or seaweed, so it makes perfect sense to serve it.
Snack 2: Malt flatbread & juniper
The second snack was already at the table when we got there. The sticks were edible , but I had already ruined that surprise for myself by reading another review before I got there.
Snack 3: Moss & Cep
The fried moss was pretty good. But I couldn’t really tell it was moss (not sure if I would want to though), except for the looks.
Snack 4: Crispy pork skin & black currant
The crispy pork skins were chicharones or pork rinds: a snack made by frying or roasting skin (rind) and fat of a pig. A bit like popcorn or kroepoek (Dutch for shrimp crackers) in structure, but with less taste. To counter this, there was a thin layer made out of black currant to add flavor.
Snack 5: Blue mussel & celery
This plate filled with the shells of mussels, had 4 ‘closed ones’. You were supposed to remove the top shell to reveal a mussel and an edible bottom ‘shell’. Yum.
Snack 6: Cheese cookie, rocket & stems
For the next snack, a waiter put a closed cookie box on our table. We had to open it ourselves to find the 8 savory cookies.
Snack 7: Potato & duck livers
Another cookie-like snack, more like a savory macaroon this time. Light & crispy potato cookies with duck liver between them, topped of with some mushroom powder. Our waiter told us these where by far his favorite and he could eat them all day long. To be honest, I think I could too.
Snack 8: Dried carrot & sorrel
These carrots had been dried or bbq’d on a low temperature for hours, creating a carrot unlike any you have ever eating before. But unfortunately, it’s still ‘just a carrot’. Served on ash (?), we were instructed to dip them into the green sorrel sauce and then back into the ashes. It still just tasted mostly like carrot.
Snack 9: Pickled & smoked quail’s egg
“Hey dawg, I heard you like eggs… so we put in egg in your egg so you can egg while you egg.”
Or something like that.
When we opened the large eggs, 2 smaller eggs where revealed, surrounded by a bit of smoke. The eggs had been cooked for 1 min and 20 seconds, so they where still extremely liquid. Therefore you had to eat them in one go, with the egg bursting open in your mouth, releasing the warm yolk.
Snack 11: Cod liver toast
This was a toast with shaved, frozen cod liver on top. A+, would eat again.
Snack 11: Leek
The burned leek didn’t look very edible, but when we opened it up, we were greeted by some of the best leek we ever had. No idea why this works for leek and not for carrots, but it just does.
Course 1: Onion & fermented pears
Neither of us really got why this was on the menu. Ok, it might have been the best onions we ever had (that weren’t fried), but still…
Course 2: Brown Crab, Egg yolk & herbs
Course 3: Beets & plums
Sorry for the shitty picture, but you can find a better one in the review I linked at the start of this blog post.
Normally I don’t like beets. But these ones were special. Can’t exactly say why, but they just tasted good. In combination with the plums and the fennel sauce, this course had a pretty strong & distinct flavor in my opinion, something some previous courses were lacking. Not everyone loved this dish, but that just meant there was more for me 🙂
Course 4: Lumpfish & apple
A lovely toast with lumpfish and a ‘toast’ made of duck stock on top.
Course 5: Potatoes & bleak fish roe
Word on the street is Mr. Redzepi likes to ferment things. These potatoes were no exception. Tasted a little different but not that much I guess.
Course 6: Pike perch & cabbage, Verbena & dill
The pike perch was wrapped in cabbage. The cabbage was then grilled and the pike perch steamed because of the moist in the cabbage.
Course 7: Wild duck & pear, Kale & beech leaves
Dessert 1: Gammel Dansk
A quick google search for ‘Gammel Dansk’ teaches me that it’s a kind of Danish liquor. But it tells me nothing about the connection with this dessert 🙂
It consisted out of a thin white disk, with a frozen layer on the outside and a more liquid inside. I’d describe it as creamy and yoghurt-like, very refreshing. The disk was served in a green, transparent ‘soup’, Not sweet at all, but packed with flavor. Usually I’m not a big dessert fan, but I loved this.
Dessert 2: Brown cheese & sloe berries
Another awesome dessert consisting out of small frozen disks of sloe berries and disks of caramelized cheese.
And that was the end of what should have been the best meal one can have right now. But neither of us thought it was. Don’t get me wrong, it was awesome, but some courses weren’t very noteworthy or lacked some punch. I love dishes with little bursts of flavor, and Noma just works with more ‘pure’ ingredients. I respect their philosophy and would definitely like to revisit the restaurant in the future. But simply based on flavors throughout the whole dinner, I like other restaurants better (for example Hof van Cleve).
And the fact that we had extremely high expectations didn’t help.