Review #3: Ö

17 June 2016

The next morning I made my escape via the bus station, but had an hour to catch up with a dear old friend — who wasn’t surprised with how bad things were on this trip. He had his own gripes to vent about Riga — his own home town. It’s amazing how a totally crap city government can make a wonderful city so negative so quickly…

I hopped onto the bus and headed north for “home” — yep, an unexpected, unplanned quick stop in Tallinn. I still had to rush to Stockholm tomorrow, so had to eat a flight from RIX and buy a last-minute TLL-ARN ticket. Thank goodness it was modest. Rested the first half of the bus ride, had a long DM chat with someone the second half, so time went by quickly.

Got to my hotel and was so good to just speak Estonian again… Excellent room at the Swisshotel. I splurged a little because being last minute the prices were all about the same anyway, and I didn’t want to be in the Old Town, so this was perfect. I went to soak in the tub a little to relax, despite the gorgeous sunshine outside…

Since this was an unplanned trip most of my friends were busy, so I didn’t even bother. I made arrangement for dinner and headed out just as the weather turned. No surprise my dinner destination is to one of my favourite restaurants in the world, the fabulous Ö. I’ve had several memorable meals here. Last time was blown-away good, the previous time totally awesome.

I relaxed at this relatively early hour and chilled out with a martini…it’s always nice to have a perfectly made martini when you’re on the road.

martini

I of course went with the full tasting and wine pairing, and asked them to do service in both Estonian and English. Perfect. I was home and feel absolute bliss. If I was a rabbit I would have flopped right there…

Soon the amuse arrived, and it was a beauty…

ABa-skin-belly-herbal

The salmon skin was perfectly crispy, which is excellent as some recent places doing fish skin have been a little lax; nice tomato powder too. The aged belly was graced with currant powder, which was also very nice. Then the “herbal shot” was a good palate cleanser. What a nice start!

The wine pairings also started and my server enjoyed doing the description in both languages, especially when she started presenting the dishes. First up, whitefish carpaccio.

01b-whitefish

Wow, now this is beautiful. The fish was excellent, and the assortment of flowers actually adds to the flavour very nicely as did the dill oil. There was also some fine roe to round out this excellent start. Wow. I’m beyond happy already. Then we moved onto the second dish, elk carpaccio from Saaremaa…

02-elk

Mmm, this was very tasty from the beginning, the meat from the largest of the Estonian islands was clean and flavourful, augmented by generous usage of black garlic. The moss was also cute. With a very relaxed pinot as a pairing, this dish went down very well. Again, another excellent dish.

I always have wonderful meals here and am puzzled why not more food people make their way here. The quality of ingredients and cooking surpasses many Michelin places, and they deserve such a bigger audience! I was glad to see a large group of Koreans arriving, as well as a few tables of locals on this stormy Friday night. Next up was celeriac…

03-celeriac

One of the nicest chunk of celery root I’ve had in awhile, which they salt-baked. Lovely buttery flavours here, and the use of whey here brought back memories of Vinland in Portland. Very solid dish. Next up is again one of my favourite fish, the sturgeon.

04a-sturgeon

A very fine piece of fish, cooked well and full of flavour. Didn’t really need that sauce — which was rather mesmirising for some reason… The kohlrabi was nice, and the sauce helped that along very well. Again, I so rather have sturgeon than the caviar! Excellent!

I was extremely happy at this stage, and this is one of the tasting dinners of 2016 so far I must say. The next dish did nothing to change that — the quail.

05a-quail

Now I have praised the heck out of the quail here in the past, which comes from Järveotsa. Tender, juicy and rich, just the way quail should be — not the bland stuff you seem to get in the US these days. Now this prep was a wee serving, but it was cooked perfectly. Lovely skin too. The carrot puree and pickled carrots add to the overall appeal of this dish, but the star was certainly that bird. Wow…

What a fabulous dinner so far! At this point a pair of ladies sat down at the next table and started their tasting menu. Turns out they were dentists and were curious how I was speaking Estonian to the servers, so that ended up with me engaging in conversation with them the rest of the evening. What a wonderful addition to this fabulous food!

As we chatted we of course kept paying attention to our food. They enjoyed their amuse as my next course arrived, beef from Saaremaa.

06a-beef

Now beef had been in the past a weak part of the meat system in Estonia, but they have really done an amazing job in the last few years with some very select stuff from the island. They aged the beef in house and cooked it delicately, making sure it’s delicate but strong. Augmented by the very happy king trumpet, this was overall a stunning dish that actually did not need the sauce.

06c-beef

Look at the beef, it’s fabulous. My only comment is that it stands well on its own, the sauce can be minimalised with this prep. Fabulous beef.

I chatted more with the next table as they awaited their dishes and then they brought out a wee bit of palate cleanser for me…

07-ice

A nice ice and citrus sorbet snack and we moved onto the dessert, which came out with a bit of a show…

08-goat cheese-spruce

The liquid nitrogen kept going for quite awhile (they timed it very well and poured enough…) as I enjoyed the dessert…Mmm, some excellent goat cheese and spruce gelato, with some “ash cookie” gracing the bottom. A very nice dessert as the meal concluded — and the liquid nitrogen conveniently was spent…

What a fabulous meal, one of the tasting dinners of 2016 for sure. The quail and beef were fabulous as was the whitefish, those stood out the most. The celeriac also. This place should really be getting far more foodie love, and is totally worth making a trip. Frankly a flight here plus this dinner is probably cheaper than a night out in Copenhagen. And you get far more honest cooking that seeks to bring out the best of local ingredients, not to show off how bloody clever the kitchen is (often at the detriment of sensible, clean flavours).

If I had to choose a final meal, this restaurant would be one of the 5 I’d consider… Super stuff, very, very highly recommended. Fantastic service, very generous wine pours. If Michelin finally comes to Estonia no doubt this place will get a star.

I stayed and enjoyed some last sweet snacks and a few after-dinner drinks chatting with the two ladies until the place was basically ready to close. What was supposed to be a quick drop-in into Tallinn turned into a 6+ hour dinner with some unexpected company. I eventually thanked them — and my unexpected conversation partners — took my leave and strolled back to my hotel.

It’s so good to be home…

Ö
Mere puiestee 6E
Tallinn, Eesti

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3 thoughts on “Review #3: Ö

  1. Pingback: Review: Frantzén | melhuang1972

  2. Pingback: My 10 Best Meals of 2016 | melhuang1972

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