Last winter, I was one of the lucky diners at Rene Redzepi’s Noma in Copenhagen (well, I say lucky, but getting a reservation did require a little bit of skill in navigating the competitive online booking system – let me know if you need help making a reservation!). For those of you unfamiliar with Noma, the restaurant highlights Nordic ingredients: dried moss becomes the best crispy snack you’ve ever had, Danish wood ants are a burst of citrus and you’ll want to eat every single one, and barley is turned into the most comforting cream that you’ve ever tasted.
When we arrived 15 minutes ahead of our noon reservation, we opened the door and the entire staff immediately stopped what they were doing to welcome us to Copenhagen and take our coats. Our waitress became our new best friend, poured us glasses of champagne and told us about the menu. The attitude was “we are lucky to have you” rather than “you should feel lucky to be here.” As the number 1-rated restaurant in the world (although since I have eaten there, it has been pushed down to number 3), I expected the food to be good. What I did not expect was the service to be as good as it was.
I probably won’t be able to give Noma the justice it deserves in this little blog post, and I’ll let the pictures below speak for themselves. In short, the genius in Noma is that despite the level of complexity behind the scenes, the dishes are presented simply – there is no pretentiousness and no fluff. Just simple ingredients at their best. And the courses are light enough that, even after a 20-course meal, you are not stuffed, groaning, and in pain, but so happy to be just eating that you’ll want to go out for a Danish hot dog afterwards just to continue the experience.
The pictures below show the progression. The first 10 courses were quick, 30 minutes in total. The following courses were slower and accompanied with a wine pairing. In total, the meal stretched about 5 hours. After coffee and a few more drinks, we were offered a tour of the kitchens to witness the magic.