First off, I should clear this up: Noma is *technically* no longer the ‘best restaurant in the world’
(in itself a questionable title), but 3rd in 2015 on San Pellegrino’s 50 top restaurants list.
Noma did, however, hold the title four times, for several years running, and is widely acclaimed as the most influential restaurant in recent memory. They revolutionized Danish and Scandinavian cuisine, turning potatoes, fish, and gravy into a medley of fermentation, preservation, and inventive ingredient use. They created their own restaurant category: “New Nordic”.
The name is a portmanteau of the words Nordisk and Mad – Mad Nordic food.
In a way people have come to expect, the chef/co-owner of Noma, René Redzepi, has paid little attention to the title,
himself stating that there is “obviously no one best restaurant in the world” – a sentiment mirrored by people who know such things.
This is also why the ‘best restaurant in the world’ has ‘only’ two Michelin stars. Most three-star establishments have
such high standards and hushed dining rooms that it feels inappropriate to do anything other than poke at the
quail egg foam in front of you as you wonder if ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’ was based on a true story. It can get
unnerving, having a suited waiter hovering behind you, refilling your glass if you so much as glance at it.
By contrast, at Noma, laughter can be heard in the dining room. Some courses are served without cultery, and most
turn the stuffy fine dining atmosphere on its head. What’s more, the chef of each course comes out and serves
each course, so you’re having a direct conversation with the person who made your dish – unthinkable in any three-star restaurant.
Anyway, I’m fully aware that this kind of food isn’t for everyone and that’s fine – it just happened that I could take a cool trip and have an ‘end goal’ in mind. It’s more about the journey than the destination!