Even the best restaurant in the world has its critics.
Earlier this year, Noma – the three-Michelin-starred restaurant that has topped the list of the world’s 50 best restaurants five times – announced that it would close in 2024 and foodies would be quick to mourn the Copenhagen restaurant’s impending demise.
But British journalist Farrah Storr says good liberation. In the Times of London, she wrote a hilarious, scathing account of her recent experience at the restaurant.
Storr begins the tirade by saying that she and her husband have wanted to sample chef René Redzepi’s edible opus for the past decade, noting that it’s “impossible to get a table.” This year, they were finally able to snag a lunch reservation. With the “juice pairing,” the meal cost about $700 per person — about the same as a “used Ford Fiesta.” It was hardly worth it.
“You go with high expectations – Gold Star stuff,” Storr writes. She was well acquainted with the restaurant and the unorthodox dishes she might have been served.
“Yeah, you might find ants on your plate or ‘reindeer brain pudding’ like we did; hey, maybe even reindeer penis, which it turns out we were served too, in a cold, nutty salad (they don’t say exactly what’s in said salad until the very end, when they hand you the menu with a half-grin) – I agree with all of this,” writes Storr.
Storr notes that the entire kitchen staff greeted guests as they entered the exclusive dining room, which she said took a decade to get a reservation. AFP via Getty Images There were 15 courses served for the $1,400 lunch for two, Storr noted. Getty Images for Audi
But the hospitality – or lack thereof – was not right.
The dining experience began with a “cup of lukewarm tea offered as if it were a bowl of Mayan gold,” Storr writes, noting that 15 guests from New York, Switzerland and the United Kingdom preceded her. She described the mood and ambiance as “a touch of a certain Roald Dahl story: A mad genius who is revered around the world and we, the golden ticket winners, come to claim our prize”.
Upon entering the dining room, the guests were then greeted with a grin by the “entire kitchen team”. Every waiter seemed to look the same, while the chefs said the familiar “yes” every time a dish was ready to be served.
“It was fun at first, but an hour after lunch it felt like torture,” Storr writes, describing the “strange and frightening,” “slavish devotion” she describes as noma-core.
“When I left some of my reindeer brain pudding in the skull it was served in (as was the table behind us) – not because it was essentially brain juice, but because it was chalky and unpleasant – the waitress looked angry as she went to pick up my plate. ‘Don’t want innards?’ She asked. I explained that it wasn’t at all, but that the texture made it difficult to eat. There was no smile, no apology, just a sneer – I felt like I had let Noma down somehow.”
Two courses later, Storr’s husband was forbidden to get up to use the facilities.
“Your next course is coming, you’ll have to wait,” said a waiter, then offered “another cup of lukewarm tea that tasted like someone had put their Marlboro Red in it.”
Noma’s award-winning chef René Redzepi has guided the Nordic-Scandinavian restaurant to three Michelin Star awards, including Best Restaurant in the World on the World’s 50 Best list. AFP via Getty Images
When Storr left the half-full teacup, she was scolded and asked, “Could you at least appreciate it?”
The duo prevailed through a parade of another 15 dishes — including a saffron ice cream dish that tasted “simultaneously play dough and nothing at all,” Storr writes, noting that one waiter commented, “Not a fan of saffron?”
“‘No, I’m not a fan of ice cream that tastes like Barbie’s legs,’ I wanted to scream—Noma was starting to feel less like a treat and more like an endurance test,” Storr continues.
One of the chilled courses at Noma. One saffron ice cream dish “tasted simultaneously like play dough and nothing at all,” Storr wrote in her scathing review. Getty Images for Audi
At the end of the meal, Storr questioned her own journalistic integrity and racked her brains as to why she didn’t enjoy the meal.
“Were we the problem?” she asked. Then she noticed that other guests also refused her cold plates of food.
What is worse? You left hungry.
“Noma now feels more like a cult than a restaurant,” she concludes.