Q: What is it? A: Probably the best restaurant in Tallinn and possibly number one in the entire country of Estonia! Was great in 2010 and just as strong in 2013.
What was the name again?
They are called Restoran Ö and they serve Estonian Modern Kitchen… How does that sound? Puzzling? I didn’t really know what to expect. A sibling to Finnish cuisine? Russian influences? Now I know better. With the Restoran Ö, you have another reason to go to Tallinn next weekend. It’s a place with a lot of confidence, although you may be less confident when trying to pronounce its name. It’s probably because of the two little dots of the O. For all of you who do not speak the local Yiddish, the ‘Ö’ corresponds to like the ‘i’ in ‘bird’. Or the French word ‘deux’.
So what about Estonian cooking? And how does it become Modern?
The Estonian Modern Kitchen is very much in tune with the times, or at least it tries to be. It revolves around local produce and some unexpected but quite clever collisions between ingredients and tastes. No doubt that the ambitions of the Head Chef, Roman Zastserinski, are very high. Blueberries and chanterelles are from Saaremaa (the island of Ösel). Lamb and beef are from farms close by. Perch and eel from nearby lakes and waters. The mission is to offer ”…the richness of the food from this region as well as prepare wonderful plates without using foie gras or truffle oil”. This is not an easy task, as many a chef working north of the 54th parallel has discovered.
Expectations were high. And they were almost met.
Of course I checked the reviews before going there. The number of positive reviews on TripAdvisor were convincing. Last time I checked, Ö was still holding on to 1st place. Also, the staff was performing pretty OK when they were around. That lack of attention did cost them the fifth star. The only other thing that sort of worried me, was arriving and finding the restaurant rather empty. I recently heard from local foodies, (thanks Maarit!), that guests normally arrive in greater numbers. That’s the way it should be, as Ö certainly deserves a place alongside the better restaurants in the Nordic countries.
The seven-course tasting menu (allow for some seasonal variations):
• Crayfish soup with spring chicken and dark beer
• Eel poached in apple wine with an emulsion of herbs on top of fresh cucumber
• Chicken liver mousse with sea-buckthorn-dandelion jam and fennel puré
• Steamed powan with herbs and pumpkin pelmenies in crayfish consommé
• Juicy beef of deer with beetroot orsotto, port sauce and aroma of thyme
• Baltic cheeses
• Curd cheese brûlée with rhubarb sorbet
Monday to Thursday 12-23
Friday and Saturday 12-24
Mere puiestee 6E
Telegraaf Hotel Wanna stay somewhere nice when in Tallinn? The Hotel Telegraaf is within walking distance from Restoran Ö. Click here to book the hotel through TabletHotels.com!