Noma restaurant in Denmark has done it again – it’swon the Best Restaurant in the World award. Famous for its eccentric menu – some claim roasted ants are part of the dish decor – the Scandinavian eatery has claimed top spot for the fifth time since 2010. Another Copenhagen restaurant, Geranium, came second on the list. The Best Restaurant list is regarded as the Oscars of gastronomy, placing Denmark firmly on the map as the country of fine cuisine.
More than 1,000 gastronomes including food writers and critics, chefs, restaurateurs and international culinary experts vote in these Awards. And Noma’s win makes it arguably the most influential restaurant of its generation. It has set new standards in research and ingredient sourcing, dish development and presentation. On top of that, it has also just been granted three Michelin stars. Its current menu of “game & forest season” costs around £320 ($435) plus wines.
Noma decamped to London in 2012
Foodies travelling to Denmark to be part of the Noma experience can’t ever be quite sure of what to expect. Chefs source local produce and make sure their menu is always highly innovative and renewable. But with waiting lists of several months to get a table, the audience is relatively limited to “those in the know”. But that has also meant word of mouth has turned into fame outside the foodie world. Now customers book just so they can say they’ve been there and share on social media. One of the menus feature vegetarian celeriac shawarma, a duck dish of leg, brain and heart served with claw. There is feather and beak, and sweet crab meat served on a flatbread cut into the shape of a crab. Perfect for Instagrammers and TikTokkers.
In 2012 Noma decamped to London for a short pop-up restaurant experience at Claridge’s hotel in Mayfair. There it served up a £195-per-head nine-course menu that included their versions of scones and clotted cream. They also served Lancashire hotpot with British ingredients, as well as live ants foraged in Denmark and flown to London. Oh to have been a fly on the wall.
At DU we tried to get a seat the top table when it was in its original location, Strandgade 93, Copenhagen. It was in an old warehouse on the waterfront, near the Opera House and the infamous freetown of Christiania. But we only got as far as the front door. Another tourist had the same idea. We were all told there was a six months waiting list, at least. Not an easy task for foreign visitors. However, we were told by a helpful waiter that there was a Noma cafe round the corner (pictured above). The cafe was a smart move as there are plenty of disappointed customers who’d be grateful for even the smallest Noma experience.
Noma is Best Restaurant – and the best Coffee ever!
Desperate for a coffee in the cold Scandi autumn weather, we went to the cafe, expecting to pay a small fortune. Maybe there would be some of those roasted ants floating on top. But no, prices were standard and we had arguably the best coffee ever! Delicious croissant…we got the gist of what the hype might be all about.
And then there’s the decor…fantastically Scandi with a mix of the formal. High ceiling, old clock and formally dressed staff. The menu is casually chalked up on a large board and mirror behind the counter. And then of course there’s the lighting…a big player in the Nordic look. Enormous naked lightbulbs hang from the ceiling which gives a cool warehouse feel. Part 1910 and part 2021.