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Two Michelin Stars, Copenhagen

Reviewed by Justine Murphy, CEO of mymuybueno – September 2016

Noma is a two Michelin star restaurant run by chef René Redzepi in Copenhagen, Denmark. The name is a portmanteau of the two Danish words “nordisk” (Nordic) and “mad” (food). Opened in 2003, Noma is known for its reinvention and interpretation of Nordic cuisine and has topped the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list four times, ranking in fifth place when I dined. It was awarded its first Michelin star in 2004, the second in 2008 and these have been upheld ever since. Unfortunately René was away on the day of my visit.

From the moment I walked inside, I felt that I had stepped into a new world and quite clearly a very different experience to any that I had had before. A greeting by the entire kitchen, all lined up to say hello, was the most warm and surreal of welcomes and took me by surprise. Walk into Noma and its earthy vibe relaxes you instantly. You feel like you are walking into a forest, surrounded by plenty of wood and natural finishes, as well as fur throws adorning the back of the chairs for comfort and added warmth if required. There is a real charm about Noma, the staff are all very friendly in a completely natural and genuine way. Their passion for working there is very apparent and that means you join them in their passion and are on that same journey from the very start. Every chef who finishes a dish presents it, so there are no actual waiting staff.

There is a real charm about Noma, the staff are all very friendly in a completely natural and genuine way.

There are so many elements to go through here. I have a severe allergy to crab and this is always advised well in advance at reservation stage. This was reconfirmed by the maitre’d who was excellent

We were presented first of all with a selection of the fresh shellfish – straight out of their tanks and brought live to our table.  

The First Apple of the Season. This was crispy and refreshing. The sauce made from fermented apples, giving a very clean taste with sweet, sour and sharpness too. It was a delightful start that cleaned my palate ready for what lay ahead.

Next came four snacks, Nasturtium stuffed with a Blackcurrant Berry, a Beer and Malt Flatbread, Crème Frâiche and Ants. It was my first time eating ants, and I found them sharp and acidic, almost like a citrus sherbet. It was very different and it worked well here. Next was a Rosehip filled with Berries, and a Reeves Plum with Kelp Skin. This was delightful, balanced and sweet with a slight umami from the kelp.

Next was a Rosehip filled with Berries, and a Reeves Plum with Kelp Skin. This was delightful, balanced and sweet with a slight umami from the kelp.

From here we moved on to the Radish Pie. What a beautiful dish. I almost didn’t want to eat it, and afterwards I saw a group of stagiaires working away in the kitchen delicately creating each individual perfect radish swirl. It was a delightful visual to behold for a few moments before tucking in. The radish was marinated in horseradish, and the tart base was made from seaweed. Every bite was perfection – the slight heat from the horseradish and the light and delicate texture of the radish itself perfectly complemented the base.

Next came the Baby Corn, with Nasturtium Leaves. The corn had been grilled and had a natural sweetness and smoky goodness running through it, which balanced beautifully against a horseradish cream.

The Noma Bread was then brought out and what a delight it was – just a gorgeous depth of flavour and a perfect sourdough.

Dried Tomatoes with Fresh Milk Curd came next. This was nice, but nothing amazing.

To follow was Sea Urchin in Cabbage. This was precious and cooked in a hazelnut oil, which they make themselves. Biting into it was like biting into the ocean. It was fresh and delicious, the uni worked very well with the crunchy texture of the cabbage and the parsley paste coating.

Lobster with Delicate Onions, and Touches of Lavender. I’m never a big fan of lavender in food but this was not overdone. It perfumed the dish in a light way and worked very well with the umami of the lobster. The gentle smokiness that ran through the dish alongside the sweetness of the lobster made this very special.

The gentle smokiness that ran through the dish alongside the sweetness of the lobster made this very special.

Grilled Langoustine Head. This dish allowed the natural sweetness of the langoustine to speak entirely for itself, such was its beautiful flavour. It was brushed with herb paste and grilled to perfection.

Artichoke and Caviar. The Danish artichoke is sliced thinly after being confit in konini oil and a konini oil sauce. It had a wonderful nutty taste and still had a good texture. It was nice but didn’t jump out at me.

I then had a Grilled Leek (similar to the aforementioned corn dish) and this was my crab substitute. It was light and delicious. My guest had the King Crab and thoroughly enjoyed it. This was the fresh, live shellfish that had greeted us at the start of our meal.

The next stage involved the roasted wild duck we had ordered being brought to the table whole before being taken back to be sliced up for our pleasure.

Clever flavours made the greens taste almost meaty.

Next came quite possibly the most genius flavour ever to grace my taste buds. Charred Greens with a Scallop Paste. Oh my. This was quite truly exceptional. When I start closing my eyes whilst eating a dish, that’s when I am in heaven, and quite clearly in a two star Michelin restaurant again. Clever flavours made the greens taste almost meaty. The scallop added a salty and savoury note and smoky, delicious mouthfuls of the various greens provided a crunchy bite with depth of flavour. My favourite being the fennel fronds, which gave a slight aniseed flavour that really got the party started in my mouth. I loved this.

Then out came the Wild Duck, which had been presented to us at the table before the greens, then taken out back to be roasted on their barbecue. It came came back divided up across two plates and at first we hadn’t quite realised that we both had different parts. However, once this was pointed out, we shared the different elements. The flavour of the duck very good, but the accompanying cabbage leaves were too thick, tough and sour, and the plum dipping sauce on the side was too strong, so as a whole it didn’t rock my world. We did enjoy the rich creaminess of the duck brain though – this was a first for me.

On to the dessert and a Sheep’s Milk and Ant Paste were presented, which looked rather beautiful. The milk was super light but the ant paste was quite coarse, and just too much ant for my liking. It was very acidic and the texture was quite bitty. I forced myself to finish the dish out of politeness, but the roof of my mouth and my tongue were feeling almost sore. Just too much.

The next sweet greatly helped to correct this and maybe that was its intention. This was a Blackcurrant Wood Ice Cream with roasted kanini. It was presented like a mini Magnum ice cream, topped with beautifully delicate wild flowers, with a twig as the stick. The ice cream inside was silky smooth with a hint of blackcurrant notes and coated with the nutty flavour of the konini. (Konini is a particular type of grain that they use at Noma. They roast the grain, blend it into a powder and from that powder make the glâce that surrounds the ice cream). The flowers provided a sharpness that worked well with the sweet, cold ice cream. A joy to indulge in.

We then had the petit fours, which comprised of Reindeer Moss in Chocolate, a Cep Mushroom, and an Egg Liquor. The presentation had a real Alice in Wonderland feel, and was beautifully served as you can see. The real winner here was the moss, it had been fried and then sprayed in chocolate, and was on par with gourmet popcorn, so good was it to eat. I could have demolished a whole bowl. The eggnog was both quite strong and too rich, a nice novelty touch but didn’t bring much to the finish.

Wine:
A wonderful selection of their choosing which worked well, all of which were natural wines (meaning no sulphates, which also means no headache afterwards. Bonus).
Resonance – Marie-Courtin 2016
Clos du Rouge Gorge 2015
Rurale 2013
Lamoresca 2014
Favourite Dish: The charred greens.
Napkin Fold: Yes.
Menu to take home: Yes
Meal for two, including wine, water and service: £600.
Final Thought: What an interesting experience. I stepped into a world that I had never ventured into before and I liked it. There is always much debate about Geranium now having now three stars (you can read my review for them next) but Noma stands out all on its own, you cannot possibly compare it. It takes you somewhere very different, a place that nowhere else can rival. A bucket list must for any foodie.
I also have some behind the scenes photos, which I look forward to sharing with you at a later date.

Noma
Address: Strandgade 93, 1401 København K, Denmark
Telephone: +45 32 96 32 97
Hours: Tuesday – Saturday (including bank holidays)
Lunch: 12pm – 4pm
Dinner: 7pm – 12.30pm
Website: http://noma.dk