Noma, the imperfect perfection

The footbridge joining the two halves of Copenhagen revolutionised the usual atmosphere

by Paolo Marchi
A picture of the outdoor space surrounding Noma, R

A picture of the outdoor space surrounding Noma, René Redzepi’s super restaurant in Strangade 93 in Copenhagen. The photo was taken on Saturday 27th August, a beautiful sunny day


The building hosting Noma on a beautiful sunny day on Saturday 27th August, on the eve of the fifth edition of MAD5
As in any seafood restaurant on the coasts of Italy and the world, the tray with the catch (in this case from the North Sea) is brought to the table and explained
First apple of the new season, a Golden skin apple opens a superlative lunch
Once open, here are some small spheres of apple immersed in a spirit of rose and apples fermented for two years. Fermentation is an essential word here – and not only here.

The fifth edition of MAD, 28th and 29th August in Copenhagen, gave me the chance to return to René Redzepi’s Noma and visit other places such as Christian Puglisi’s Relae and Baest, who was previously working in the shadow of Redzepi, and for six years now has been successfully taking his road offering a completely different cuisine, even Italian, as we’ll see in a future episode of this Danish diary.

Cristina Bowerman, Cesare Battisti and myself had a very strict schedule. Train or underground from the airport to the restaurant? Underground, then three minutes by taxi since we had bags and suitcases. In Noma’s usual location, in Strandgade 93, it’s as if everything has changed. The fault (or merit, for those who are happy) goes to a footbridge opened in the late spring right in front of the restaurant, which caused a lifting of the entire neighbourhood. Now everything is clean and trimmed, but that layer of past and that sense of distance and abandonment that made everything almost unique is missing.

Today even Noma is surrounded by nicely designed flowerbeds and some beehives. The bees don’t always keep to their home and fly inside one of the three or four most important restaurants in the world. It’s very annoying for the guests. Instead, tourists and citizens crowd the bridge every day and get close to the restaurant. They almost reach the windows, to look at who’s enjoying the service. You feel like an animal in a zoo cage.

This is one of the reasons why Redzepi, after another pop up restaurant away from Europe, in 2017 will move to the countryside. He wants to find the environmental purity that the new setting has denied. Meanwhile, his restaurant oozes energy from the very first greeting, shouted, as usual, as soon as the guest comes through the entrance. Waiters have long been abolished. Every dish is served by the person who finished it. A French dining room master would be horrified.

From time to time some essentials are ignored. An arm passes in front of your face but you almost don’t notice. What’s more important is the friendly connection with those who walk from the finishing kitchen. There’s never a boring and monotonous moment. There’s plenty of colours in the dishes and in the air.

For sure, if our cooks and chefs structured their places the way Redzepi did at Noma, I don’t know how long they’d last. Not because at Noma the place is not clean, not at all, but because the solutions would make those who are used to a different discipline jump from their chairs.