Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Restaurant Noa in Tallinn - sheer magic


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Restaurant Noa in Tallinn is the best one in the whole of Estonia. Dinner here is sheer magic!

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Our taxi ride has taken quite a while already- it's been at least 10 minutes since we passed Restaurant Tuljak. Looking around all we see is generic suburban boredom and the taxi driver hasn't uttered a word.

The way we see it there are two choices: either we'd been kidnapped and we're about to finish our evening by becoming the latest victims of human trafficking, chained to a radiator in a dodgy basement somewhere in the Baltics... or the driver doesn't have a clue where he's going. 

Sure, there would be a third option, too: the fact that the restaurant we're headed is run by people so confident in their excellence that they can put a restarant in the middle of nowhere and people will still flock there. But let's face it: this is not France, is it? We're in Tallinn! Or, a least we were about a quarter of an hour ago .

After a €15 taxi drive the journey comes to a sudden end as the driver pulls up in front of a very minimalistic dark wooden building.

Both the stylish architecture and the stunning sea view behind it confirm that we're definitely in for option #3.

(Pheeew.)



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We can't help but be impressed (and a little giddy!) by the stylish ambiance the moment we enter. Attention has clearly been paid down to every last detail, starting from the staff's outfits.

The space does justice not just to the restaurant itself, but also to its glorious surroundings, basking in the light flowing in through the huge windows.


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This year is Restaurant Noa Chef's Hall's first time at Taste of Helsinki and it is by far The Restaurant I'm looking forward to the most. 

My expectations, high as they might be, aren't without a reason: White Guide has ranked the place the best restaurant in the whole Estonia. 


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(I'm struggling to contain myself  - I just want to flitter around and capture all this on my camera, too!)


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We start the evening wth Champagne (well, how else...): on the sommelier's recommendations we settle for Perrier-Jouet's rosé.



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Then we're served house bread: a divinely rich and buttery brioche, accompanied by schmaltz (!!!); this time from pork.

(Schmaltz is rendered fat, usually from chicken, and is used a lot in Jewish cooking such as in this recipe for Jiddishe Mama's chicken soup).


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As the other diners are busy tucking into one of the two 11-course menus (both Herbivore and Omnivore cost €79, wine package €69), we're here to sample the dishes they'll be bringing to this year's Taste of Helsinki.


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SPRAT & CHIPS” smoked crisp / salted cucumber / wild garlic mayonnaise / french fries 


While their signature dish is the priciest one of the whole festival (12 mk) it dose raise the bar to a whole new level.

It might sound simple but the dish featured so many nuances dissecting it all kept us busy for a long time. 

A foodie, you see, is a very particular breed - they take such pleasure in the voyage of discovery that a dish at its best is; an ensemble which stops, challenges and leaves you in a haze of admiration so that you're not always even sure what it is you're consuming.

Are these chips really made of potatos? What is that green stuff - some kind of pickle dust?

That wonderfully vibrant dip (topped with black capers) was such a perfect way to tie the different components together. 



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HERRING TARTAR marinated flat onion / apple / sour cream / rye bread -6mk


As an unabashed herring lover I was thrilled to discover how this year the restaurants participating in Taste of Helsinki have taken it upon themselves to celebrate this humble fish. 

But little did I know what we we're in for with Noa's entry...


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We'd given the sommelier free reign, in spite of the fact he had no idea what we were going to be served. With this dish he decided to push the boat out and poured us orange wine from Sicily.

Catarratto-Carricante-Malvasia-blend was, much like the other natural wines I've sampled so far, rather... interesting. We couldn't wait to see how it would work with the dish.



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And boy, did it work. The combination was so spectacular I was moved to the brink of tears. 

The onion dish itself was so complex, balanced, soothing, yet so sophisticated I can't really even find words to describe it (so, just come look me up at Kansalaistori where I'll be shedding more tears next week!)

How on Earth are they going to replicate this dish at the festival conditions?



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Observing the dishes being prepared in the open plan kitchen at the other side of the restaurant was such joy. The punctuality, the way they all work so well together... (I did tell you - a very particular breed indeed!)

The progress of each dish is monitored through Excel sheets and the whole process is conducted in devoted silence, only punctuated by exchange of monosyllabic messages reminiscent of Japanese karatekas.

Hai! Hai! 

And there goes another delivery. 

These guys are magicians and more. 


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TRIIBU” CHEESECAKE berries -6mk


(Seeing how I'm a masochist with no self esteem) I also enjoy tremendously when the restaurant holds their end so well they actually manage to pull the rug off from underneath me and my preconceived notions, proving me wrong (once again). 

This is exactly what happened with the dessert. Served with basil ice cream among other things, his beauty of a cake was made of the worst specimen (goat cheese) of the only ingredient I hate (cheese).

Dear me, how delish!


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At this point sommelier's creativity went a little amiss though: his choice was Estonian ice cider, which, while perhaps not even cold enough, was also not sufficiently sweet. Combined with the sweeter elements of the dessert the overall vibe was too tart and beer-like.



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Finally we were served kitchen's greetings: a selection of sweets, which we devoured with some Pedro Ximénez.

Aaaaaah.


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After the meal we retired to the terrace to witness as the sunset draped everything into a pink bliss, same shade as the Champagne in our glasses.

This is the life.



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Oh - the service in this place. Oh, the service. Doors were opened before we even had time to think about it, shawls appeared on our shoulders as if out of nowhere and somebody always materialized from out of the blue to help us back into our chairs at the table. 

What a delightful evening - can't wait to be back!


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You'll find the whole Taste of Helsinki 2017 menu on the blog over here. So far I've eaten my way through 14 of the 40 dishes on offer and man, oh man. I can tell you you're in for a serious feast!

So, how about that Noa? Any of you guys been there already? How was your experience?



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In collaboration with Taste of Helsinki 

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Noa Restoran
Ranna Tee 3
Tallinn

tel. +372 508 0589

noa@noaresto.ee

www.noaresto.ee

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___________________


ANYONE FOR SECONDS?


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