I have been looking forward for our lunch at Noma for a while and was really excited to go to what has been considered the best restaurant in the world in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2014 and ranking third best in 2015. I was first surprised by the location of the restaurant that I imagined outside the city, next to a forest where the Chef and his crew would get some of the unusual ingredients they use in their menu on a daily basis. I was wrong: it is located in an old warehouse on the waterfront in the Christianshavn neighborhood, in the center of the city. I loved the atmosphere there that was very relaxed and you could sense the excitement of the diners (I was not the only one to take photos). When we arrived, we were greeted by quite few people and were stunned by the number of staff. We learnt later that they have roughly a ratio of one to one between dinner and staff, staff that is composed of twenty different nationalities. So don't be surprised if somebody from your country is serving you as they try to pair diners with staff by nationality to make them feel home, whenever possible.
Noma was for sure a unique experience: fantastic service and incredible food that I cannot really compare or want to compare with anything I ever tried before. But, to appreciate it, you need to be open minded: you will eat flowers and maybe insects. Of course, they use common ingredients and we got for instance bone marrow and lobster (not at the same time).
Before I talk about the food, let's talk about the space: I would call it modern rustic and it might be the theme of the restaurant, taking what nature offers and serving it with a modern twist.
The dining room is overlooked by the kitchen, if not the contrary, and we got the chance, like others, to not only visit the kitchen, but also the hidden part of what looks like a laboratory, including the space where they taste dishes people imagine and decide either to dice them, improve them or serve them. There was in fact a session at the time we were there.
The same large room is used for study, relaxing, and growing herbs that will be used in the kitchen. I should also mention the containers that are the fermentation lab outside: they ferment all sorts of things there and a quick passage into one of the rooms is sufficient to fill your nose with this particular smell...
There is also the kitchen, magical place where the fantastic food we tried was assembled. Remember, we visited it after we finished eating and most of the lunch service was completed.
So, back to the food; they serve a unique menu and understand this word in both ways: unique because there is only one (if you are vegetarian, they will accommodate), but also because there is no other place like this. To go with the meal, they interestingly, offer a fresh juice pairing (Danes apparently love fresh juices) as well offer a wine pairing (nice amount per serving, with wines from all over the world). We went for the later.
After a glass of Champagne to celebrate our wedding anniversary, we got the following dishes:
Turnip and unripe strawberry marinated in aquavit:
Whole wheat bread and virgin butter:
Cabbage leaf and white currant:
The First shoots of the Season with scallop marinade (Jodi got the same, but the scallop marinade was replace by an all vegetarian option):
Sweet peas, milk curd and sliced kelp:
Our first pairing was turnip and green strawberries juice and flower tart:
The next pairing was an apple and pine juice (my favorite) with New Danish potatoes and lavage:
This was a take on a traditional Danish dish, with the most surprising part being our fork that was not edible:
Next pairing was sweet shrimp wrapped in ramson leaves and carrots and gooseberries juice:
Cabbage and roses:
Mahogany clam and grains (a 100 year old clam!):
Monkfish liver (my least favorite):
White asparagus, goosefoot and barley:
Lobster and Nasturtium (the lobster was so beautifully cooked):
If I remember, it was paired with rose tea that was also a good palate cleanser:
Roasted bone marrow (my favorite):
The bone marrow was paired with a cabbage juice.
Berries and greens soaked in vinegar for one year:
Rhubarb and sheep milk yogurt:
This was paired with a sorel juice:
Then came one of the most surprising ingredient to try: moss. The dish was forrest flavors, chocolate and egg liquor (eggnog):
I did not really liked the chocolates, but the fried moss was delicious: crispy with a taste I cannot describe. They were in fact cleaning it in one of their rooms upstairs and we got a glimpse at it.
Once we finished our meal, we went to the lounge to get some coffee and tea.
This was a memorable meal and I am sure you are wondering if I think Noma is the best restaurant in the world. Service wise, it is one of the best services I ever had; food wise, I guess that if you rate based on uniqueness of the menu, it probably is. Otherwise, there are plenty of restaurants out there that are as good, if not better. But, if you are in Copenhagen and can afford to go there, it is certainly not a place to miss.
Enjoy (I did)!
If you like this post, the photos or the blog, please feel to share it or post a comment. Merci!