I debated adding this to the Copenhagen thread, but since I have an addition or two outside, figured I would start a new one. I’ll skip straight to the main event with the first post, which would be Noma. We went during Seafood season, and with the exception of one dish, our menu was the same as the one @BradFord experienced.
The service was warm and helpful, yet not overbearing. We booked a shared table, so it was mandatory to get either a wine pairing or a juice pairing, and we got one of each. Seated at our shared table was a couple from Amsterdam, a pair from South Africa, and a pair from Greenland. So it was an eclectic crowd. I think the experience itself was special, because we all knew that getting a reservation was difficult, and you had this bonding through that experience. It was also fantastic hearing everybody else’s food (and other) stories. In fact, we all got along so well that we were the last ones to finish our dinner time slot (starting at 5pm, but I believe they had an 8pm seating), and they asked us to proceed to a post-dinner drinks room, where we could order additional drinks. Clearly this has happened many times before.
I will cut to the chase, but will try to not belabor the point. I really respect what Chef Rezdepi is doing, by foraging and trying to expand the universe of foods that folks enjoy in a meal. He certainly isn’t the only one doing that these days, but I believe he is one of the pioneers. They also win points for uniqueness, and painstaking execution. And to allay any Majordomo-type questions, no I don’t think there were execution issues The service and experience were fantastic, as mentioned above. However, I did not think the food was delicious. When I look at these pictures, I struggle to think of any one dish that I am craving right now. I just did not appreciate the combination of flavors. Or, I would say, lack of flavor, in many cases. I think the best dishes of the night may have been the ramps, the stars (dessert), and perhaps the lumpfish roe. If this restaurant were easily accessible in LA, but you renamed it “Rene’s Tavern” or “Vespertine”* , I would never go. The last “fine dining” experience that I can remember that was this disappointing to me flavorwise vs. expectations was Mugaritz in SanSebastian. Clearly I am in the minority on this, and I highly doubt I will dissuade anyone from trying to go to Noma (nor am I trying to - it’s a food bucket list experience for many, including myself), but that was my experience.
I would normally wonder if it’s just because I do not like “New Nordic” cuisine, but the meal we had the night before, at Kadeau, was absolutely extraordinary, and easily makes my top 10 fine dining experiences ever. And judging by reviews, Kadeau’s cuisine is less accessible than Noma’s.
- Sorry I couldn’t resist - never been to Vespertine, but when I read JGold’s review of it, I feel it’s applicable to my experience at Noma, where he uses every thing but deliciousness to defend the restaurant.
Pics of the outside
Fresh Norwegian scallop - it was good, not more memorable than innumerable raw scallops I’ve eaten
You’re supposed to use the shell to scoop up the scallop like so
Seafood platter: carpet clam, venus clam, mahogany clam - I think the venus clam was the only one where the bright flavors stood out to me
Marinated sea shrimp - the “shrimp” was some sort of gelatinous concoction that tasted like fruit roll ups
Grey shrimp cooked with sea lettuce - a shrimp wonton
Lumpfish roe and cured egg yolk
Local ramps to accompany the lumpfish roe - this might have been the best bite of the meal
Cured turbot (in corn miso) - served lukewarm - the curing didn’t seem to elicit any of the turbot flavor, so mostly what I got out of this dish was texture
Medium rare blue shell mussel (the seaweed was not edible), with a broth that you drank
Cod bladder simmered with quince
Cod tongue schnitzel
Salt cod pie - we enjoyed the oyster leaf that accompanied it, but have had that elsewhere
Beach grab gel and pinecones
Boiled brown crab on flatbread - tasted like an empanada
Hot smoked, then barbecued arctic king crab - different country, and different species of crab, but the grilled crab I had at Kimoto in Tokyo last fall was much more flavorful than this
Crab salad (with a bunch of different flowers) - I respect the attempt to combine different and untraditional flavors here, but I thought the sum was less than the parts - the crab + the floral taste of the flowers were not a great combination
Salted and dried berries from summer - I rather enjoyed this, as the acidity of the berries and fragrance from cheese highlight the best that this type of cuisine has to offer
Cardamom scented sea star - the texture was like caramel or taffy - pretty delicious
Chocolate cod skin - a nicely dried/fried cod skin coated with chocolate; it was interesting and novel
Apple & herbs
Saffron & pumpkin
Quince & lovage
Cloudberry & oxalis
Tomato & fig leaf
Our dining room after we all filed out
The post-dinner hang-out drinking room
Cute menu with the fish attached