3 December 2014
I made my way to my favourite restaurant in Tallinn, Ö, for dinner this fine Wednesday evening. I was so looking forward to yet another wonderful tasting menu, taking the best of local ingredients with amazing cooking. My last tasting menu here was very memorable, and my expectations for this place over the years have always been extremely high.
I was given a nice seat near the window close to the kitchen, where I got to enjoy the aroma of their craft throughout the evening. My server was utterly fantastic, professional and knowledgeable of each and every ingredient in both Estonian and English. Generous with the wine pours too for the pairings. I relaxed, already sensing this was going to be a fabulous night.
First to arrive was the amuse bouche. What a beautiful display. The first (on left) was moss with shavings of game sausage. Love the texture of these things! The middle was a small potato cake with roe, again fabulous mixture of flavours. The third was a piece of crackling with some berry, a nice mix once again. Not pictures on the side was a “herb shot” — a very concentrated herbal juice drink. Wow, my palate is beyond clean now. A great start!
The pairings also began at this point, and I do apologise for 2 things now. First, I forgot to write down the pairings. Second, the photos came out a little bad once again. This phone camera has a problem with focus when the light is dark and you use the stabilisation feature in low light… In any case, the first course was smoked duck with tomatoes.
Now the combination of flavours here was just beautiful. The local sourced duck was sweet and delicious, changed the way I think about Estonian ducks for sure. The heirloom cherry tomatoes were hay-smoked and adds tanginess and complexity to the overall taste. Excellent!
The second dish was salt-baked celery root in a celery tasting of sorts. I’m not a big fan of celery though I do like the root. A bit of a “trying too hard” dish here, but done well. The third dish was next, and we return to fabulous.
The scallop was seared just on one side, and retained the sweetness very well; the other side was charred by a burning juniper branch, and you get a strong feel of it that works well with the sweet scallop. The accompanying local apple complemented this dish perfectly. Impressed!
I was even more impressed when dish four showed up, cod cheeks. They were bathing in a wild mushroom broth what was both delicate and forceful. The cheeks themselves were heavenly. Wow…
We continue with seafood for course five with local flounder. A very meaty flounder from the depths of the Baltic Sea, the wee bit of dill oil was a nice touch. Excellent stuff.
We now shift to the meats with one of the dishes of the year for me, the smoked quail.
Wow. The aroma of the hay-smoke was just incredible. This quail, sourced from the south of the country, was just decadent. It was very fatty, with an incredible layer of fat you rarely enjoy with quail. Perfect season for this! Excellent parsley root and also (hard to see from bad pix, sorry!) a bed of quail hearts under the bird! Wow, what a dish!
I was gushing over this dish so much. I’ve never had quail better than at my much-missed former restaurant Elettaria until this evening. Wow…
I’d thought anything after this would be less than awesome but the final savoury dish was spectacular, beef from the island of Saaremaa. Cooked perfectly, utterly tender grass-fed stuff. The Estonian beef industry is really impressing me, the stuff from Saaremaa is fabulous. And cooked perfectly here!
Here now we have a quick palate cleanser of caramel and dandelion foam. Then we moved to the dessert, this time seasonably based on the pumpkin and sea buckthorn.
I love the tanginess of sea buckthorn (astelpaju), one of the treats of the islands. I actually picked off a few of the berries on the decorative branch…
Wow. I really loved this tasting menu, one of the best of the year. Extremely happy with food and service, which was all top notch. Seriously, this place blows overrated Copenhagen hipster-driven eateries away.
As I relaxed with a calvados the petit-fours arrived in a cute decorative box. I soon finished and walked out into the crispy night happy with an amazingly good dinner. Easily the best restaurant in the region, one of my favourites in all of Europe. Worth far more than a detour to visit, trust me.
Mere puiestee 6E