Thursday, 1 September 2016

Dining and w(h)ining in Tallinn: Tuljak, Rataskaevu 16 and Kaks Kokka

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Tallinn's vibrant restarant scene makes it one of my favourite minibreak destinations year after year. Tuljak wasn't all it's cracked up to be, but Kaks Kokka delivered.

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At the beginning of a new relationship everythings is so lovely. Everything about the other person is so sickeningly lovely, too. Who can put up with that? Someone's got to put an end to that kind of sugary sweetness! One of the best ways to put a relationship and the significant other into a test is to go travelling together. Escpecially on a foodie trip. With someone as intolerable fussy dedicated as me. That, I can tells you, sets the men (and Marines) apart from boys.


The low treshold destination of our first trip together was Tallinn - should things go sour, one of us could always swim back home. 


"Well, she is a bit of a ... foodzilla", The Cat Blogger tried to warn my new love of the realities of sharing a life with me. "So... it might not always be easy."


Well, our base in Tallinn, Sokos Hotel Solo Estoria certainly got us off to a very enjyoable start. 


Perhaps sharing life with me isn't always all that bad...?


Sokos Hotel Estoria_1


The view from our window, overlooking Tallinn's beautiful Old Town was nothing short of spectacular. I wouldn't mind waking up to hese views every single morning. Or in this bed - by far one of the best ones I've ever slept in!

By the way - were you familiar with the heavy symbolism of Toompea castle tower, seen on the left hand side of the photo below? Every morning they hoist the Estonian flag on top of it, with the national anthem. 


(No, neither did I. The date, however, did.  Fun with flags, boys and girls. Fun with flags.)


Tallinn Old Town


It was his first time across the bay, so in addition to gazing at wach other, we were supposed to gaze at some sights, too.

Tallinn was hosting its annual Maritime days. So, here's a picture of sea. 


Tallinn Maritime Days


Based on photographic evidence we've also soaked up the atmosphere of Tallinn Old Town's idyllic cobble-stoned streets. 


Tallinn Old Town 1


...and other stuff...


Tallinn Old Town 2


...such as churches. Yes, there were churches.


Tallinn Old Town 3


The restaurant we mad eour first reservations in was Tuljak, which I'd heard a lot of good things about. Its location in the neighbourhood of Pirita was not the most ideal one, but hey - that's what the taxis are for. One way fare there won't set you back much more than €5 anyway.

The menu of this restaurant, opened last year in an old Soviet-era sandwich bar, pays homage to its roots. Pricing in itself is an act of solidarity: all the snacks (apart form oysters) are €6, starters €12, mains €18 and desserts €6.


The restaurant has been thoroughy renovated and a great deal of attention has clearly been paid to every last stylish detail.


We kicked off our dinner in style: Ruinart's Blanc de Blancs (€12) for me and a raspberry mojito for him (€10)


Tuljak_1


Kitchen's greeting was pork belly. Crips, fatty, succulent... well, you know. Everything one could ask for. 

For starters we shared oysters, which were presented in a spectacular fashion. The taste was spectacular, too: surprisingly they were cooked and served with Asian inspired vinaigrette, which, while complex and vivacious, was not too overpowering and left room for oysters' delicate flavour too. Best oysters I've ever had? Quite possibly.




Tuljak_2

Tuljak_3


Then it went downhill. One of us had fish (Atlantic cod, apple, potato, dill and endive) while the other (guess which one) had octopus with Merlot risotto. Even after having checked three times whether the dish could be served without cheese, the one they brought had cheese.

Endive dominated the fish dish, making the overall appearance overpoweringly bitter. My wine pairing seemed a little off (for my palate anyway), but the date's recommendation was bang on. 


Tuljak_4


Puddings brough the total back to red again. Quark pancakes (with raspberry and sruce shoot syrup and sour cream ice cream) was rich, yet not too sweet and my choice; eclairés with chanterelle toffee was so good I could have gone back for seconds. Three times over. 


Tuljak_5


Courtesy of its great and very happening restaurant scene, Tallinn has,for years, been one of my favourite minibreak destinations. The knowledgeable floor staff has been years ahead of Finland... until now. This time even the places I've come to rely on during the previous trips, failed to impress. 

Specialized in understated eleganceLeib Resto Aed has always been one of my favourites, as has their patio that sits in the shadow of the old wall surrounding the Old Town. This time we only had time for pre-lunch aperitives, but even those they didn't get right.


Leib Resto Aed_1


Rataskaevu 16's starters were the source of great joy (and at €4.90€ - €8.60 a pop, very reasonably priced, too). Wines were served far too warm though and oddly I found myself in the middle of a very bizzarre conversation with our waiter, who apologized for the fact they only had red (?!) Pinot Noir.


Rataskaevu 16_1


Luckily there's Kaks Kokka, a restaurant that didn't fail this time either. Cosy, stylish and yet a bit tongue in a cheek-decor, great, attentive service and excellent value for money.


Kaks Kokka_1



Being crazy about offal, I just had to have their chicken liver (€9) which was every bit as delicious as it was pretty. The tangy pickle and crunchy onion threads lent a great contrast to the richness of the liver mousse. 


Kaks Kokka_2


The date's elk tartare (€12) was another party on a plate: exuberant celebration of textures, flavour, colours and components. Such as moss.

Everything here pickled on the premises. Such as that moss. 


Kaks Kokka_3


Served with spring cabbage and carrots and a delightfully soothing carrot sauce, the quail (€17) was excellent. So was date's steamed buns stuffed with teriyaki pork (€13). High praise for the gentleness of the kimchi which is something I normally actively dislike. 

The dessert (juniper crème brûlée with G&T gel and drunken berries, €6) was recommended by our wonderful waitress and I, ever the G&T lover, lapped it up in ecstacy. 


Kaks Kokka_4


Other restaurants worth checking out are Kohvik Moon, Salt (more on the blog over here and Ribe (on the blog here).

You should also always leave some room for orange-infused hot chocolate at Pierre and the heavenly crème brûlée tart at Bonaparte. Kompressor is another placeworth remembering: their stuffed pancakes are famous for their cheap prices and generous sizes that will keep the hunger at bay for the rest of the day.


Tallinn Old Town 2


Oh, Tallinn. You were good. Again. 

Oh, and the date? Still going strong. So I suppose it takes a bit more to scare him off...!

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ANYONE FOR SECONDS?





Pariisin Ville 2      


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