Redzepi’s Noma isn’t leading the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list (formerly San Pellegrino list) for the moment, but for me, there is no question that it is the world’s best, most interesting and impactful restaurant.
I have written about the chef and the restaurant quite a few times already (if you missed it, click here), so now I will only concentrate on the latest novelties and some fresh, personal experiences.
The most noteworthy is that Redzepi’s personality, his humbleness and his puritan lifestyle are not part of a PR strategy. I spoke to him quite a few times in the last years and my impression never waivered. Even more telling is the way he acts at a staff reunion with his colleagues, without any sign of supremacy. Or the way he acts with me, like with a dear friend. Which he did, for example, when he arrived with his wife on Thursday morning to the café where I was sitting on the terrace, enjoying the sun (together with a beef garum sandwich [garum is a fermented fish sauce from ancient Rome], a beautifully flaky puff pastry and a cortado). He noticed me already from atop his bike and greeted me with a “hey buddy”. They jumped off their bikes (which aren’t fancy hipster bikes or fixies but simple ones, suitable for transporting kids), they hugged me and then they continued their way, knowing that I will anyway have lunch at their place. Nothing theatrical, no show-off, the guests at the café didn’t get excited from the presence of the world’s best chef either, and even my company ignored them. Nothing indicated that a special guest arrived.
By the way, the next day, when I was having coffee with a Danish friend in the centre, he drew my attention to the lady walking her dog next to us, who turned out to be the crown princess (and her bodyguard following closely behind). No one seemed to be excited about that, either. This is a very laid-back place.
And this is the menu, evoking the end of summer (although the weather beats the most perfect summer days in Copenhagen), but at the same time already “autumnal“. And it’s fantastic, well-constructed, thought provoking, mind-blowing, challenging, inspiring and it doesn’t try too hard. Simply the world’s best menu.
In each dish, something fermented will come up as an ingredient. This is their speciality: they ferment; they use lactic acid bacteria and all kind of fermentation methods and they are constantly experimenting in the containers behind the restaurant. (This will eventually move in the huge building in the new location.)
The new season’s first apple:
And from the inside:
Late summer fruit plate, with plum wrapped in algae, crisp of carpenter ant, rosehip filled with berries, nasturtium with blackcurrants
Radish pie: marinated with beetroot, flavoured with horseradish, in a crispy tart made from algae
Grilled baby corn with horseradish cream - it was on the menu last autumn as well
The inside: cut in small pieces, as usual, so that it can be eaten easily and comfortably with the little wooden spoon:
Next one is the bread. According to René, those restaurants in Denmark that don’t take bread seriously, are not to be taken seriously. In Noma, the same starter is “working” and they have been keeping it alive, feeding it and perfecting the bread made with it for over 13 years now. Now this is a new format, new size: they changed from the 300g small pieces to a bigger loaf of 1200g. “The starter is like an annoying little puppy that pees everywhere. You cannot leave it alone; you have to take it with you, even on holiday.”
The bread is amazing: thin crust, bubbly and fluffy inside. It seems to be wet, but it really is light, has perfect consistency and delicious taste. It’s made from Øland wheat and whole barley flour. The butter this time is a summer butter, with a herbal taste (according to what the cows eat) and not the fresher, more acidic virgin butter.
Very soft cheese made of ewes’ milk, together with - maybe for the first time in the restaurant’s history - dried tomato. With redcurrant oil and vinegar.
The seafood section was next, presented by David Zilber. Alive. During their guest stint in Australia, they had realized that these animals taste the best if they are alive until the very last moment before preparation. So these are next on the show:
This tasted wonderful. Sea urchin from the Feröer-islands where, funnily enough, they don’t eat them, despite the fact that they are abundant and of the best quality in the sea (I got to know this the next day from the manager of the Søllerød Kro restaurant). With hazelnut, in cabbage leaf and with pine salt.
This is how they go through them and select them in the kitchen:
This was also phenomenal: lobster tail with slightly grilled onions, lavender and rose oil.
From a different angle.
And on top of it, they prepared the head separately in the same butter they used for the tails and they grilled it a bit - so that we don’t miss anything. Grab it with your fingers and slurp.
One of my favourite dishes, which is regularly part of the menu, is hokkaido squash with caviar, buttermilk sauce and beechnuts. But this time, exceptionally, they also found artichokes in Denmark:
From a different angle and a bit pulled apart:
And the last dish of the section, the most delicious seafood: the king crab with egg yolk sauce. The idea came from the snow crab that is caught in 1km depth off the coast of Australia. That was a killer, too.
Games after fishes, because it’s autumn.
First, wild green selection, roasted on some butter and scallop paste.
Then some wilder stuff:
Plating is more moderate compared to last year’s, but the idea remains (this is how it looked like last year)
And the garnish is also the same: cabbage leaves and fermented plum, reminding me of hoisin sauce:
Now it’s time for dessert:
Ewes’ milk, ant paste and fennel puree:
Then the “ice cream”: walnut base and the glazing is made of the special berry of the kōtukutuku (New Zealand fuchsia), kōnini that they use roasted.
And the final, classic crown jewel: crunchy moss in chocolate, cep covered in chocolate, homemade egg liqueur and a handful of the season’s last raspberries to taste.
If you would like to see how the kitchen works, check out my live video from the downstairs kitchen and restaurant tour:
The other video from the upper floor with the aquarium full of giant lobsters and other seafood, as well as the prep kitchen.
I inquired about the closure of Noma at the end of this year, and turns out it’s not certain that everything would go as planned. The permits for the new place are not coming in that fast and they would need to be closed down for an excessively long period of time (none of the works have started yet, I checked out the venue again). Nevertheless, there is some very exciting - not confirmed - news about Redzepi’s next pop-up project in Tulum, where there won’t be any water, nor electricity. But hush, this is a top secret. ;-) It’s nevertheless a crazy project, fitting Redzepi, one where his former pastry chef, the Mexican Rosio Sanchez will give him a hand. She is now making super authentic tacos already at two venues in Copenhagen.