The ultimate 3 Michelin starred restaurant
2018. április 25. írta: világevő

The ultimate 3 Michelin starred restaurant

I had tried the menu of Noma 2.0 right after its opening, but now I've returned and here is the detailed report of my visit. *

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* Even though it sounds weird, I don't regret returning for the same menu. This is because, after the excitement of the first time, I could finally taste the dishes in a relaxed manner and enjoy all the subtlety that I might have missed the first time. It's just like re-watching a very good film (or watching it over and over again).  

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If you want a good scare.

No week passes by without giving out some gastronomic titles; stars, rosettes, toques and rankings are flying around everywhere. But the world's best restaurant doesn't have any title or prize just yet, as it opened only in mid-February, surrounded by great public interest. Also, it is not so easy to get in, if the majority of the world's gourmets are on alert when they can finally get in the kingdom of René Redzepi's little team. Here not only the menu is revolutionized, but the whole dining experience is completely different from the one at the previous location, at Strandgade 93 - thanks to the completely new venue.

Copenhagen is a fantastic city anyway:

The construction works and the spatial planning are not yet finished (the investment turned out to be quite the enterprise and the freezing cold didn't help either). This is not even expected because we wouldn't want the team to come up with something final, as they are unique for being always on the move, developing continuously and never stopping. They reformed already the way we think about kitchen service, presentation, serving or ingredients of fine dining. And they make it their mission to prove in real life that the latest Noma book title, 'a work in progress' stays valid.  

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There are many top restaurants in the world, where you have the impression that they are done, they got it, the menu is absolutely fantastic, perfect for one occasion, everything works as it should. But if we return, we have to realize that they are static, constant, only very few things change to make it seasonal, they play safe. There are many like this among the 3 Michelin starred ones. Of course, there's beauty in it and it's completely understandable from a financial point of view but it gets quickly boring for the returning guests. It's mainly beneficial for those who only want to tick it off from their bucket list. But at Noma, the excitement comes exactly from the unknown: nothing is settled, they are not done and hopefully they never will be. Let's see where they are now.

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The dishes are spectacular; the ocean menu of Noma is outstanding (you can see here the complete menu) but I would highlight two other aspects here, because they are as important for the full picture as the food. It would be a mistake to try to separate the menu from the rest of the experience.

The full menu can be seen here with pictures, and here are the dishes from my second visit. It's worth comparing the two.

A very important but less visible aspect: the human factor. The team spirit in Noma is legendary. They are all strong personalities but somehow they manage to work together seamlessly as a team, something like FC Barcelona (insert your own favorite football club). And this team is also unique considering its members:.

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Some of the team members - and this is far from an exhaustive list:

René Redzepi, the chef

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James Spreadbury, restaurant manager, from Adelaide, Australia

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David Zilber, the chef in the R&D department, from Canada

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Ali Sonko, the dishwasher who is also a shareholder in the new restaurant:

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Or Richard Hart, who left his job as the head baker in the legendary Tartine Bakery in San Francisco and moved to Copenhagen (with 4 kids!) when Redzepi called:

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Uniquely,  even the head chef of the test kitchen is a Michelin starred chef, who left his own successful restaurant, the Studio, and returned to Noma upon René Redzepi's call, to be part of the background once again. Torsten Vildgaard [and I just realized that I don't have any photo of him. I will remedy this the next time - in June.]

The other important factor is the surroundings - the built one and the natural one. Because both are very special. The first one is the work of the BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group) and evokes the ambiance of Danish farms. The latter one is of course still under construction - the frozen temperatures made the works difficult and maybe the plans were also too ambitious.There's still work to do, but we already know: it's a 'work in progress.'    

Stars, prizes, lists

The big chefs all dream of the prizes, titles, and it's even more obvious if they try to deny how much they long for or want to keep those stars, ratings or rankings. Of course, these are important for marketing purposes, no wonder it raised quite some eyebrows when the 3 starred Sebastian Bras requested to be deleted from the next edition of the Michelin guide. Noma managed to withdraw their presence from every guide and list in a much simpler way and they won't even appear in the Michelin guide, nor on the World's 50 best list for another year (the Nordic Michelin edition was just released before the opening). The reason is that nobody could have voted for them last year, nor this year, so the earliest they can be again on the list is only next year. This is real independence and in the meantime, the guests are voting with their feet. Looking at the definition of the 3 Michelin stars, i.e. it goes for a place that's worth a special journey, there is no other restaurant on Earth to prove this solidly that it fulfills the definition. It's not the locals but fans from all over the world who travel for the Noma experience not only to Copenhagen but also to the pop-ups in other parts of the world (Tokyo, Sydney, Tulum). [Like yours truly, who is a proud addict].

The full menu can be seen here with pictures, and here are the dishes from my second visit. It's worth comparing the two.

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