From January until April this year, restaurant Noma has relocated to Sydney. While René and his team are gone, Strandgade 93 is occupied by the pop-up restaurant 108 at Noma. Pop-up might be a misleading term. This is actually a training camp for the real restaurant that will open in Strandgade 108 sometime in May or June. At the moment 108 at Noma offers a unique chance to dine in the legendary venue of the most influential restaurant in the world! The restaurant is led by head chef and owner Kristian Baumann. He has worked at Noma and was the sous chef at Relæ for three years under the leadership of Christian Puglisi. That should tell you quite a bit about the capabilities of this man. Obviously, Noma’s own René Redzepi is also involved in the 108-project. Just like he was helping Rosio Sanchez, the ex-head of pastry at Noma, when she set up Hija de Sanchez. This time Redzepi is actually a partner, and that marks the first time in 12 years that he expands the Noma universe. That stands in stark contrast to many of his colleagues in the food business, who run multiple restaurants and sell their brands everywhere.
The moment we entered 108 I could tell this place was not Noma. One of the things Noma is famous for is the welcome. This excellent piece of writing describes the art of the welcome, which Noma has perfected. Don’t get me wrong, though, we were met by a polite and smiling host. Just like you would expect at any decent restaurant. Next up, we hung the jackets on the coat stand ourselves, before a waiter guided us to our table. Well, it wasn’t a table, it was a wooden bench that seated four other people. The music playing across the speakers was pop and rock classics from the 60s, 70s, and 80s. Not loud, but definitely noticeable. All of these elements were deliberately put in place by the restaurant to distinguish itself from the gourmet category. This was not Noma. This was 108.
I figured some drinks to kick off the meal would be a good start, and ordered two cocktails made with gin from a local Copenhagen distillery. Unfortunately, they were not so much to our liking. The excellent sommelier, Riccardo Marcon, noticed it straight away and offered us a glass of wine instead. Nice save! Specifically, it was a bottle of Flora from Michael Gindl. The rest of the evening we drank amazing natural wines, and that truly lifted the experience for us.
The style at 108 will still be new Nordic, but with influences from Japan. Compared to its mothership it’s going to be way more affordable and available for people. Noma is a fine dining restaurant, which gives you only one menu of choice at DKK 1900. On the contrary, 108 will be a casual eatery and the menu is à la carte. Currently, the 13 dishes range from DKK 75 to 185.
All of the dishes served by 108 at Noma were tasty and suggested at a very promising kitchen. Only one dish disappointed a bit. I guess I had been looking so much forward to the caramelized milk skin, and imagined it to be as delicious as the one I had at Noma last summer. Which, to be honest, is an unfair expectation to have, considering I rated the lobster taco the best dish of 2015!
I am of such incredible fortune that I shall visit the Noma pop-up in Australia on the 1st of April this year. Meanwhile, it was a really great experience to dine once again in the Noma venue, although in a completely different setting at the 108 pop-up. To finish off the meal we opted for some sweet alternatives, of course. The desserts all looked so tempting I couldn’t decide, and in the end, I just ordered the whole menu! We did not regret it. Every single one of them was simple, yet extremely satisfying.
The Winebar of 108 at Noma
As our meal was coming to an end the restaurant manager, Jacob Møller, approached our table and asked:
– Do you want a final drink in the wine bar?
Considering how outstanding the wine options had been this evening, we never even considered to decline. The wine bar of 108 at Noma is actually in the coffee room of Noma. Usually, you are brought here to enjoy the coffee, maybe an avec, as well as the petits fours at the end of the meal. At 108 at Noma this room has an even more relaxed atmosphere. You don’t even need a reservation. Just go there, buy a bottle of fermented grape juice, maybe some bar snack, listen to music and play a game of foosball. When we met Rosio Sanchez the following day she told us it was the actual foosball game of the Noma staff!
The Baywatch theme I’m Always Here was playing, service had ended in the restaurant and just a handful of guests remained in the wine bar. Laughter and yells from outside caught our attention. Shortly after, naked butts appeared in the doorway. Apparently, some of the guests had decided that it was a good idea to go skinny dipping in the waters outside. You could tell that the restaurant staff was a bit stressed about the incident, but they remained professional and provided their guests with towels. We finished our wines and went to play a game of foosball. Soon, the sommelier, Riccardo, joined us for another round! I am happy to say that my skills from endless hours of playing this game at my previous employer’s office were still intact.
Did you get a chance to visit 108’s pop-up at Noma? Are you as excited about the future of this place as me? Please leave a comment below.