It was with mixed feelings I was making my way on the Copenhagen Metro to noma, the world’s best restaurant since 2010. What can you expect from a place that is so hyped right now that it is almost impossible to get a table? (I don’t know by the way how we managed to get one, we just did) Would waiters and chefs smile knowingly: “Well, look at them, this is their first time at noma!” If anyone had thoughts like that, they did not let us feel it at any time. We felt welcome from the second we opened the door and were greeted by an army of waiters ready to take our coats- no posh noses up in the air anywhere to be seen.
I was exited like a little child and from then the whole evening evolved into one big food entertainment show. We noticed afterwards that we did not really talk about anything else but the food in front of us and food in general. That makes six hours of food talk.
My first time at noma was a great number of “first times“.
I have never been at a restaurant where there is no salt and pepper on the table- there is simply no need for it. Everything is p e r f e c t i o n. For a professional project manager and ex-waitress as myself it was beautiful to see how everything just worked, no hick-ups: not in the food, food presentation or the service or anything for that matter! That can only happen with a bunch of very professional, trained and disciplined people. It was a ballet!
Another first was me sitting for many seconds with my head over the plate, staring at the food. Just taking it all in before starting to eat. Usually I dig in even before I take the pictures because I just cannot wait and then -ups- I have to find a special angle to take that photograph so you would not notice the nibbled corner of my croissant for instance.
I have not earlier felt the urge to shriek (here I actually shrieked) when trying to eat a shrimp. The chef said it was dead! Ok, maybe he did not use the actual word “dead”, he just said “it is very fresh”. What a challenge when those small black eyes look at you and it is twitching between your fingers. Then: crack!
It was also the first time that my camera let me down! Bad light conditions usually are not a problem but here it was cosy candle light and a dark Danish November night. If I were a more serious gourmet I would have forced my friends to take the lunch session to get photo friendly day light. But pha- no way, lunch is for kids! I have an image of all the dishes they served clearly inside my head. Like this I also have a good reason to come back next summer; summer nights in Denmark are bright and wonderful you know!
Towards the end my friend said with her sweet – at this point in time a little drowsy- voice “this food and this entire experience is so luxurious and decadent that I feel someone should feed me”. Hear hear.
No one did. Instead they even invited us to get up … and to follow them behind the scenes!
(Another first: me jumping up and down in my chair at a restaurant, clapping my hands.)
Sous chef Beau Clugston (yes, the bad ass guy who “lied” to me about the shrimp) gave us the great tour of the kitchen, the barbecue area, the staff room and the expedition area, explaining their routines and all sorts of funny details. Like that they had googled my friend, who had booked the table, to know more about where we are from before we came. Funny. Like how many hours they all work per week, maybe not funny all the time, but it must be such a great learning experience for all of them! My deepest respect!
Talking about learning experience: when we finally left the place after another glass of wine the staff was not nearly on their way home. Clugston told us that they were brainstorming on new recipes and when we came past the kitchen they were all clapping and cheering- maybe a new starter was born?
noma please have me again, I simply enjoyed this evening immensely. A huge thanks to all of you! And special thanks to Beau Clugston for the grand tour and the turbot treat.
P.S. Did you see the food in the first picture?? Neither did we but the breadsticks are there between the flowers!