$2000 USD for 4 people to eat lunch! You better believe I expected an experience on par with discovering a new food galaxy. Yes, I read the menu, but I put my apprehensions aside, because Noma had repeatedly been voted, "THE BEST RESTAURANT IN THE WORLD". My experience couldn't be more different, I would not eat at Noma again even if it was FREE.
My initial impression was that there were some good dishes made from very odd ingredients, but the more I thought about it "good" is relative. Did they do a great job of making a grasshopper filled ebelskiver edible and presentable? No question. Did they create something I want a plate of everyday, once a week, or ever again? Nope, so does that make it good? You decide.
In trying to wrap my mind around this I came to the conclusion that this is a restaurant more about a deep dive into the concept of using things you would find foraging in nordic woods, maximizing creativity, and the associated art of presentation. Noma is not about customers other than they are a necessity to continue the experiment.
The beginning courses were coming very fast. I asked to slow the pace and I was told that this is how it had to be for the first nine courses or so. This prevented any conversation at the table as the staff were constantly clearing plates and interrupting to explain new dishes. I wanted to be able to take some time and discuss each dish and also carry on a little non-food related conversation with other diners. This basically isn't possible and it prevented our party from being able to savor and consider what we were eating. Most times as you picked up something to put it in your mouth, the staff was replacing it with the next dish.
On one course I very carefully asked for a different glass of wine as our entire party felt that the wine had a semi-corked taste. I was told in no uncertain terms that the wine was correct as it was and that this was what we should drink. Instead of arguing, I just didn't drink that glass of wine. From that point forward I was never offered another glass of wine and I finished my meal with only water.
Most of the food is on the sour/bitter side. Even the desserts where you would expect some relief and welcomed sweetness included bitter elements like sea weed. Let me just say that those elements had a very off putting taste in a dessert. Also the seasoning was minimal, several dishes really needed a touch of salt. I really don't care to get 100% of the flavor of raw sea urchin roe at the expense of a touch of salt.
Portions are very small, if I combined all the proteins from the meal I could hardly make half a sandwich. It got to the point that I felt this was just being cheap, surely not a feeling I should have with these prices.
After many hurried courses we were told the last few courses would be served in the lounge. Clearly this was a message that they needed the table. The party next to us just flat refused, but we went feeling slighted especially since we had arrived early for our reservation and barely taken a breath during our meal.
The last straw was asking for a simple coffee and receiving a watered down, dish water colored, bitter (again) concoction, that we were told was special coffee soaked in water for four minutes for maximum flavor. When we asked for milk cream we were told to try it as it was. Honestly one of the worst cups of coffee I have ever had, ever! Why do these places feel the need to reinvent everything?
So as I sit very contently and oddly thankfully finishing a room service burger back at the hotel (you will leave hungry) I hope others will think twice before going there. The staff means well and there are certainly very skilled people on staff, but they lack a direction that will endure.
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