Refshalevej 96, 1432 København, Denmark
The visionary chef René Redzpi celebrates local and seasonal ingredients in 20-course menus that focus on three seasons. Winter revolves entirely around regional fish; summer on vegetables and fall focuses on game. Each small course is a revelation with radical combinations and presentations such as potato soup served in a terra cotta pot planted with herbs and sucked through a vegetable straw. (See First Look: Noma 2.0). The décor and place settings are changed to go along with the food in season, so when the fish menu is being served, seaweed may hang from the lights and dried fish on the walls; while in summer, dried artichokes and branches offer the slightest ornament. Only open five days a week and closed for a few weeks between “seasons," the restaurant serves two dinner services daily for roughly 45 diners. One begins at 5:30 p.m. and the second one at 8:30 p.m. Each reservation is slightly staggered, so parties can be individually greeted and walked down the “garden path” that runs between a canal on one side and the greenhouse-looking test kitchen on the other. The dining building resembles a modern barn, and when the front door opens, the Noma team of chefs and waitstaff (who hail from almost 30 different countries) warmly greet guests, setting the stage for a theatrical few hours of tasting. The owners, who include chef René Redzpi and Ali Sonko, one of the original dishwashers who was given equity after 14 years of service, may stop by the table to offer thoughts on favorite dishes and offer a tour of the kitchen at the end of the meal. For foodies, this is truly the holy grail of experimental cuisine and the breeding ground of the next generation of great chefs.
Written by Melissa Biggs Bradley