Mon Repos, located in a delightful old villa from 1870, is not one, but two restaurants; upstairs a chef’s table tasting menu-affair, downstairs a lively bistro where Chef Vladislav Djatšuk conjures the flavors of Kadriorg’s golden age while utilizing contemporary cooking techniques and exciting discoveries from kitchens near and far. In the summer, the restaurant offers al fresco dining at the edge of Kadriorg Park, though the environs merit a visit year round.
Try to read upon the Chef’s Floor of the Mon Repos Restaurant. You will be surprised.Not much information is available beyond the bare bones. Can a hushed up restaurant in our era of information overload even be good? As it turns out, it sure can. The Chef’s Floor is the domain of one of the best contemporary Estonian chefs Vladislav Djatšuk. Not one for idle chatter, he works his kitchen with a passion. This, in turn, attracts customers. And itseems like they, like the chef, are not much for gossip, because despite the lack of talk, there is no shortage of customers. The Chef’s Floor offers a choice between a four-course and a six-course tasting menu. The food is characteristically nostalgic (or melancholic?) and modern at once. Both menus begin with wild salmon. This is the dish that won Vladislav Djatžuk the seventh place at Bocuse d’Or Europe Stavanger ten years ago. The fish, very lightly cooked, is served under a smoky cloche. When the server raises the cover, the mouth-watering smoky aroma foreshadows the flavor of the fish. The fine dining at Mon Repos is created with cutting-edge techniques as a fruit of long labor. The dishes are probably too complex for a regular eater to describe the experience in words. The drinks selection consists of sound, safe choices. The pairings are correctly done,but the wines themselves might be described as a touch too simple for the masterful dishes. The hundred-year-old villa has been expertly renovated for the restaurant. The Kadriorg Park immediately behind itis the biggest and most gorgeous parkin Tallinn. Everything comes together here for a good time. What else is there to say?
This small restaurant in central Klaipeda strikes with an exceptionally homelike atmosphere. The small sitting area at the edge of the dining room offers seclusion and comfortable armchairs to enjoy an aperitif or a digestif. The kitchen cupboards with dishes stand right there on the dining room wall. The enticing aroma of fresh bread is wafting from the cutting board. But since this is a restaurant rather than a home, locals generally visit it for a fast working lunch or business dinner. Occasionally, people bring their close onesto take their time celebrating a special occasion. For people newly in town, the order is taken and the food served at a fast food pace. Luckily, there is a way to signal that you would like to take your time. The key is ordering anaperitif. You will be given exactly as long as you need to enjoy a glass of sparkling Altemura Rosamaro Brut Rosé. The staff will take time to introduce the four appetizers and four mains in detail. The beetroot cake isan inside out cake. The slightly marinated crunchy beetroot base istopped with sweet granola of roasted peanuts and seeds. The rump of lamb is cooked tospecification and served with baby potatoes, broccoli, and green pepper sauce. The gourmand is treated to a salad made of tomatoes and raspberries from the chef’s own garden. While Monai is ready to bring out excellent food at breakneck speed, let the chronic rushers make use of this. Slow food at fast food pace is less ofan experience, more of a convenience. We recommend taking your time at Monai.
Monte Pacis may well have been last year’s single biggest surprise. After all, what would you expect of food inan active monastery? Austerity, perhaps, and meager offerings...yet throughout history, monasteries have contributed a lot toour knowledge of food in general and drinks in particular. And this is where Monte Pacis lives upto its heritage and blazes the trail for restaurants everywhere. The authentic rustic milieu created by the rustic wooden furniture belies the menu, which ismodern fine dining. The first section of the drinks menu covers...water. The fifteen different choices range from the crystal-clear Norwegian Vossto the Georgian Borjomi whose salty flavour some might consider an acquired taste. The list moves onto local fruit wines, monastery wines, beers, and ciders, and then champagnes. Choosing your beverages distracts pleasantly from the urgency of hunger. The Borjomi is a good choice for anyone who believes that all water is created equivalent. Moving on from there, the standout among sparkling wine-like aperitifs is the Abbazia di San Gaudenzio Fragolino, a mix of fermented grape- and strawberry juices that the Piemontese monks have beenmaking since the 9th century. Strawberry notes dominate and provide a very sweet counterweight for those tired of the old brut. The kitchen is helmed by Rokas Vasiliauskas, the youngest chef inany upscale restaurant in the Baltics. The restaurant really puts its best foot forward with the 9-course “carte blanche” degustation menu, where each dish remains a secret until it arrives at the table. The chef’s attention is largely occupied with introducing the degustation menu and guests that settle for the brief à la carte options might notget his full attention, even though the food is equally delicious. The lamb in the dumplings is coarsely chopped, which allows the flavor of the mutton a clarity that regular fine mince cannot quite achieve. Still today wehave fond memories of the perfectly cooked duck breast with delicate pickled rhubarb.
"he Moon is a family restaurant at the edge of the trendy Kalamaja district. Based onclassic Russian cuisine, itis worth visiting for excellent food and homelike atmosphere. The Moon blends the ancient with the modern and reinterprets traditional Russian cuisine in a new fashion. Moon's appreciation of traditions and openness to the newis confirmed by the fact that they were oneof the first restaurants to establish itself in the proto-gentrifying Kalamaja. Ithas since become a cozy, well worked in place with a special atmosphere where the food, drink, interior and service form a whole and bring a crowd. The soul of the Moon isoneof the top Estonian chefs Roman Zaštšerinski with his chef nephew Igor Andrejev. Tired of fine dining, these gentlemen threw off the toque blancheandreturned to their roots. Roman's wife Jana prepares the drinks and takes care of the guests, and as such, the Moon isan outstanding family restaurant. The menu lists some traditional Russian dishes as well as their modern interpretations. The pies are just as they have always been - fresh, fragrant, and richly stuffed. The great Russian soups - borsch, solyanka, uha - as well as dumplings and buckwheat blini hark back to the classics. The Head Chef has given his imagination looser reins with main dishes. Classics such as chicken à la Kiev, rabbit, and beefsteak are revamped with interesting sides and sauces - the chicken Kiev with kohlrabi-spinach salad and hazelnut dressing, the rabbit with carrot-spinach puree and Parmesan cream, and the entrecote with roast parsnip and tomato-aubergine salad. The drinks complement the food. The selection is broad and caters to several interests: biological, biodynamic and kosher categories are all represented, as are local small breweries and cider-makers. Non-alcoholic drinks are also available.
Morten Nielsen is celebrating 20 years as a restaurateur in Aalborg; and from the very first popping of inaugural corks, his ambition has been to position the restaurant at the upper echelon of the city’s gastronomic establishments. Extensive elbow grease has gone into creating a cosmopolitan milieu that stands out from Aalborg’s other restaurants. Cream-coloured leather, purple neon, an Uncle Scrooge painting and lounge versions of such classics as the Temptations’ “My Girl” are just a taste of the sensory input in the dimly lit, cave-like restaurant – a David Lynchian hybrid of dream and reality. With precision, credibility and a well-measured formal distance, Morten himself orchestrates the evening’s meal. Surprisingly, the oeuvre of snacks, bubbles and bread receives a taciturn presentation amounting only to a quick mention that the bread is “warm” and nary a word about the champagne. We move on to the evening’s menu, where the best dish is a cut of perfectly fried wolf-fish fillet garnished with creamy saffron barley risotto, perfectly acidic sauce nage and al dente cabbage; the pairing of an oily, floral viognier fits the cabbage like a glove and brings us to a state of bliss. A luxurious serving of poached cockerel, sauce suprême of crème fraîche, goose liver and cognac with shaved winter truffle is just as classic as a Mercedes 350SL cabriolet and evokes sentimentality for Larousse Gastronomique and a bygone era. The richness could have been broken up by something crisp, but the balance and completeness are fortunately consolidated by a cool, acidic pinot from Santa Barbara. The old-school style continues with a veal fillet flambé, carved at our table. The accompaniments of creamy potato purée, glossy veal demi-glace and a thick basil sauce are flawless and seamlessly intertwine with the bacony and peppery California shiraz from Coppola; although the portion is more than generous, this overly safe dish lacks a few innovative and enthralling elements. This issue is obliterated by the myriad inventive and affable options on the cocktail menu, which you absolutely must dabble in before calling for the bill.
The name of the café (that is not just a café) will confuse those who are not familiar with Estonian quirks. Mosaiik hits the bullseye – this eatery opening to the main square of Kuressaare is indeed a real mosaic. However, itis a lot more than a simple café. Mosaiik is a stylish casual dining restaurant. The confusion harkens back to the time before Estonian re-independence, when everything was strictly graded and categorized. Restaurants were the highest (and finest) category of food establishments. Cafés with their coffee and buns, and perhaps with simple lunches, were next. Last came canteens with their purely practical bent. Even now, some eateries don’t dare to call themselves restaurants for fear of leaving the wrong impression. Do have coffee at Mosaiik Café, it is excellent. More importantly, however, it is their eclectic selection of different drinks and dishes that merits a visit. There is no single theme or leitmotif to the menu, but the result is an exquisitely rich and colorful jumble. Singling out a single dish or drink here would do the others wrong. Mosaiik welcomes you at any time, no matter what you’re looking for, and settling in with a cup of coffee is no skin off the back of those eating their way through the entire scintillating mosaic.
If you continue along the quay, so far that the indistinct signage makes you think you made a wrong turn, you will soon find yourself at the epicentre of Finland’s wild flavours. It’s a rather unexpected location for such an extraordinary restaurant experience, a stone’s throw from the moored cruise liners with their giant smorgasbords. At Nokka they make it clear early on that the kitchen adheres exactly to seasonal variations and is dependent on what they receive from small-scale suppliers, both in terms of animals and vegetables. This sets the tone for the two set menus, one of which is vegan. The first courses look confusingly similar. The omnivore’s dish, smoked pike with its roe, has a strangely delicious saltiness under pickled radishes, brightened up by a bowl of tarragon-laced cucumber salad as ice cold as the ocean outside. On the vegan dish the fish has been replaced by pieces of porcini. The pairing of a six-year-old, oak-barrel-aged, cognac-scented and white grenache from Montsant is more interesting than good. But the non-alcoholic pairing is perfectly on point: a lightly spiced sparkling beverage made of black currant leaves meets a small caramelized onion with browned butter and crispy “muesli”. At Nokka they are proud to have their own fisherman, who has provided the pike for the main course, which has been pan-fried with honour and comes with vegetable “cannelloni” and a potato croquette to suck up the creamy and tart sauce. The passion-fruit-flavoured sauvignon blanc from New Zealand is a fresh exception to the wine list that is primarily dominated by the Old World. Though the food is finely nuanced it’s never pretentious in this former warehouse on the harbour. It’s warm and inviting here, between the brick walls, with a full view of the kitchen where the happy cooks have eschewed knitted hats in favour of baseball caps. The staff are in a really good mood when the dining room is filled with tourists from far away, often from Japan and the United States, sitting side by side with jubilant large family gatherings. Over elderflower granite served in the restaurant’s obligatory carved wooden box we discuss how rare it is at a restaurant of this calibre to find the kind of generosity they exhibit in switching out dishes on the fixed menus. The food odyssey is rounded off with riches from “the land of a thousand lakes” in the form of a milk chocolate with gooseberries.
With over 100 Masters Level restaurants, the Nordic countries offer a wide variety of excellent culinary experiences. The Top 30 are all at the Global Masters level and they include some of the best restaurants in the world.