This Monday, the 18th of February, I will be in Aarhus together with Kaitlin to cover the launch of the Michelin Guide Nordic 2019. Last year, the big happening was in Copenhagen for the second year in a row. In case you’re thinking that the event location is linked to the likelihood of restaurants getting stars in the respective city – it’s not. Hosting the Michelin event is simply a question of who’s willing to cover the costs in return for the marketing value. This year, Aarhus stepped up and, as a result, will get a well-deserved spotlight directed at their dining scene as the city fills up with industry people and food writers from all over the Nordic countries. My last visit to Aarhus was back in 2016 when I made this foodie map of Denmark’s second largest city, and I am looking forward to expanding that with some new spots.
Predictions: Michelin Guide Nordic 2019
If you read my predictions before the launch last year, I go into detail on how I think the Michelin Guide works and why it’s almost impossible to predict the results each year. I won’t repeat too much here, so if you are interested, please check out that article. But the main point is that a place may deserve a star in the opinion of local food critics, but for some reason or another not get it anyway. Perhaps the Michelin inspectors had a series of bad experiences, or maybe it was just too early for the guide to hand it out for strategic reasons. Thus, please read my predictions more as my opinion on who deserves a star.
One point that makes it extra hard to guess this year, is the fact that Michael Ellis stepped down as international director of the Michelin Guide last year and was replaced by the 23 years younger Gwendal Poullennec. In a short time, Poullennec has shaken up things across Europe, demoting old institutions and signaling that the guide is taking a fresh new approach to restaurant reviewing. I can only make guesses and state my opinion on the places that I have visited. Thus, I have more to say about Norway and Denmark than the other Nordic countries, simply because I live in Norway and I’ve been more to Copenhagen than any other city in 2018.
The most likely candidate for a star in Oslo this year is restaurant À L’aise. Although I still think they deserve one star, which I also said in 2018, I have reasons to believe they won’t get it this year either, sadly. I don’t hope any restaurants in Oslo will lose their star, but the new leadership could mean that an institution like Statholdergaarden is in the danger zone. In my opinion, Galt is not a star restaurant, even though Björn Svensson definitely has Michelin experience. His new place is simply too casual and easygoing, but will probably keep it’s recently earned star.
Restaurant Credo and Fagn in Trondheim are probably the most likely contenders for one star in Norway this year. I visited both places back in April, and found them to be on the right path to receive a star, but still somewhat unpolished. However, reports about multiple visits may indicate that the stars are indeed within reach.
If there is a candidate for a new one star in Stavanger it is restaurant Tango. Experienced chef Kjartan Skjelde relocated his flagship to a smaller space last year and cut the number of tables to a third of the old spot. Finally, they seem to have the right ambition level. I had a very good meal here in late December, but I don’t think it’s their turn quite yet. I haven’t been to the new restaurant Söl, but I also haven’t heard anything that indicates that they are a Michelin star candidate. I still think restaurant Re-naa is closer to two stars than one, but Michelin might wait with that until their relocation.
I don’t think any stars will fall on Norway’s second largest city this year either. I finally got to explore the food scene properly last summer and found that both restaurant Bare and Colonialen were very close to a one-star level. However, Colonialen already decided to lower their ambition level and replaced the ten-course tasting menu with a more casual four-course meal. I really think Bare deserves a star based on the meal and experience I had, but sources who have dined here more frequently than me claims there could be issues with consistency. I also haven’t heard any rumors of inspectors in Bergen. Restaurant Lysverket has often been mentioned as a Michelin star hope for Bergen. While I found it to be a good high-end casual spot, it’s not a Michelin star candidate, in my opinion.
Noma will get three stars this year. There, I said it. Perhaps one of the biggest controversies in the world of fine dining is the fact that Noma – four times named the world’s best restaurant by the World’s 50 Best – never got more than two Michelin stars. Was it a political decision by the Michelin Guide not to cave in to the pressure? Of course, they would never admit that and we won’t ever know for sure. But now, the guide has the perfect excuse to, finally, give René Redzepi the ultimate accolade, just like they did with Frantzén in 2018 (after Björn moved his eponymous restaurant to a new venue).
A relocation from Strandgade 93 to Refshalevej 96, a complete re-innovation of the kitchen, and the launch of Noma 2.o with three distinct Nordic seasons. The place had just opened in February last year when the Michelin Guide Nordic launched, so there was no chance for the inspector to rate it yet. I visited Noma eight times in 2018, covering the seafood-, vegetable-, and game and forest season, and was truly impressed. You can hate or love the type of cuisine, but you can’t argue that the food is not extremely consistent. Additionally, you won’t find better service or more focused staff anywhere in the world. I think it would be completely ridiculous if Noma was not given three stars this year.
Other notable mentions in Copenhagen are Søllerød Kro and Marchal. I still believe both of them are closer to two stars than one. Yet again, there are rumors about a lot of Michelin inspections at restaurant Barr. I love the place and it’s always consistent, but it’s still not a place I consider a typical Michelin-starred restaurant. We will know on Monday!
Read my colleague Rasmus Palsgård’s prediction for 2019 (article in Danish).
Who do you think get stars this year? Please leave a comment below.