Predictions: Michelin Guide Nordic 2021 The Return of the Stars

It has been a year and a half since the last Michelin Guide was released in the Nordics. Usually, the awards ceremony takes place in February, but the 2021 guide was postponed until the fall, due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Finally, the new edition of the Nordic guide will be released on Monday, September 13th, 2021 – stars will be awarded to the top restaurants in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, Finland, and the Faroe Islands. Currently, there are a total of 254 restaurants featured in the Nordic guide, with 23 starred restaurants in Denmark, 16 starred restaurants in Sweden, 10 starred restaurants in Norway, 6 starred restaurants in Finland, and one-starred restaurant in Iceland. This year’s festivities were originally scheduled to take place in Stavanger, Norway, but due to ongoing travel restrictions and safety concerns, the awards will be live-streamed from Stavanger this year in a virtual event.

Update: The stars are out, see the full results here.

Watch as we surprise one of the chefs with two stars! This was produced for Matkanalen for the Michelin Guide Nordic star revelation show:

Due to strict border controls, it was difficult for the Michelin inspectors to travel around the Nordic countries, which is what inevitably led to the postponement of the guide’s release. As a result of these travel restrictions, the inspectors might not have been able to visit the restaurants as many times as they would have liked to. It could be the case that the potential star candidates only had one chance to impress the reviewers. It also seems unlikely that the inspectors were able to travel much outside of the capitals – it was a risky travel year, so the inspectors may have played it safe and kept their traveling to a minimum.

It certainly hasn’t been an easy year for the restaurant industry. Restaurants all over the world have suffered through a series of lockdowns. Some restaurants turned to take-away food to make ends meet, some restaurants sadly shuttered for good. Even when open for business, restaurants have operated with a complete lack of tourists. This has been an especially tough blow in Scandinavia where food tourism is such a big reason for travel. Restaurants have also been forced to follow the government’s ever-changing restrictions – capacity limits, distances between diners, masks, curfews, alcohol bans, proof of vaccination/negative test, and more. Restaurant workers have been on the front lines of the pandemic serving guests, fearing for their safety at work and often getting exposed to the virus. In addition, there’s a severe shortage of restaurant workers as a result of the pandemic. Many expats were sent back to their home countries, and many others decided during the lockdown to do something different with their lives. As a result, there is a huge staffing problem in the food industry around the world. We hope that the Michelin Guide respects what a difficult year and a half it has been for restaurants, and that this year’s guide seeks to lift up and celebrate the industry.

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It’s become an annual tradition for us to predict who will get stars in the release of the Nordic Michelin Guide. (See our 2020 predictions here.) So, who do we think will get stars this year? Keep reading to see our 2021 Michelin predictions.

Sushi Anaba in Copenhagen, Denmark is deserving of a Michelin star.
Sushi Anaba in Copenhagen, Denmark is deserving of a Michelin star.

Predictions: Michelin Guide Nordic 2021

Denmark

Total listings: 95
Plates: 52
Bib Gourmand: 11
Total stars: 23 restaurants, 32 stars
⭐⭐⭐ 1
⭐⭐ 7
⭐ 15
🍀 9

In Copenhagen, we are crossing our fingers for Sushi Anaba. Mads Battefeld’s omakase counter rivals the top sushi meals we experienced in Japan and is, without a doubt, a Michelin star candidate. You won’t find a better omakase restaurant than this in the Nordics. We also would love to see Restaurant Brace, a fine dining restaurant combining Nordic and Italian cuisines, enter the guide. Over the years the menus at Brace have been a bit up and down, but we’ve seen chef Nicola Fanetti and his team consistently hone their cooking skills. The latest tasting menu in the summer of 2021 was their strongest yet – but did the Michelin inspectors get a chance to taste it? Although we haven’t been ourselves, it’s also likely that The Samuel will get a star – Michelin loves to award chefs who have previously been featured in the guide, and chef Jonathan K. Berntsen had one at his former restaurant Clou.

A couple hours outside of Denmark’s capital is restaurant LYST, which we can confidently say was operating at a two-Michelin-star level when we visited in the fall of 2020. Michelin rarely allows restaurants to enter the guide with more than one star, however, so it’s probably safer to assume that chef Daniel McBurnie’s fine dining restaurant will enter the guide with one star this year. Substans in Aarhus opened in a new location in June 2020. Could they get their star back in their new venue? Another restaurant that seems to be operating at a high level outside the capital is Syttende in Sønderborg, where chef Jesper Koch is cooking on the 17th floor of Alsik Hotel. Unfortunately, we haven’t had a chance to go yet ourselves, so it’s hard to make an educated guess.

Our meal at LYST in Vejle, Denmark was a highlight of 2020 for us.
Our meal at LYST in Vejle, Denmark was a highlight of 2020 for us.

Alchemist will also surely make its way to the three-star league one day, but we think it’s unlikely that Michelin will grant Rasmus Munk his third star already, seeing as they only just entered the guide for the first time with two stars last year. Maybe next year! Of course, we also dream of the day Noma will get its well-deserved three-star ranking – but it seems that the Michelin Guide has stubbornly put its foot down on this one. If René Redzepi and his team didn’t get promoted to three stars after they moved and revamped the restaurant in 2018, it’s probably unlikely that they will ever be good enough in the eyes of the French culinary Bible. But that won’t stop us from saying every year that Noma is a three-star restaurant in our eyes. On that note, we also think of Amass as a solid one-star restaurant. However, for some reason, it’s one of those places that never crosses Michelin’s radar. Luckily, we don’t think chef Matt Orlando loses much sleep over his lack of inclusion in the guide – he’s focused on his mission of making some of the tastiest and most sustainable food in Copenhagen.

Update: We are hearing buzz all over town that Noma WILL get its third Michelin star this year.

Norway

Total listings: 43
Plates: 27
Bib Gourmand: 1
Stars: 10 restaurants, 11 stars
⭐⭐⭐ 0
⭐⭐ 1
⭐ 9
🍀 5

It’s time for Maaemo and chef Esben Holmboe Bang to reenter the Michelin guide. Will they skyrocket back into the three-star tier? We certainly think so. The breathtaking new location of Oslo’s best restaurant is everything a Michelin inspector dreams of – beautiful surroundings, exceptional service, and ridiculously tasty food. We’re confident that Maaemo will regain its throne on top of Norway’s food scene this year. Last year, we hoped that A L’aise and Rest would each get awarded a star, but the Michelin Guide had other plans. Here’s hoping that this year the inspectors will finally get it right.

We also had high hopes for The Tea Room, which opened in Oslo in early 2020. Tragically, the restaurant closed after chef Luke Henderson passed away this summer. We sincerely hope that the Michelin inspectors got to taste some of Luke’s food – our dinner at The Tea Room last summer was our favorite meal of 2020 and easily at a two-star level.

Outside of Oslo, we think both Kvitnes Gård and Lofoten Food Studio in northern Norway are on their path to a star – although they probably won’t get one this year. Kvitnes Gård opened just weeks before Corona hit, so it’s unlikely that the Michelin inspectors have visited chef Halvar Ellingsen’s farm restaurant yet. While we absolutely loved our meal at Lofoten Food Studio in Ballstad, we wonder if Michelin could ever award Roy Magne Berglund’s one-man show with a star. In the past, they’ve been a bit stiff, so we doubt that this private dining/backyard restaurant concept would be up their alley. (But that shouldn’t stop you from going!) We also think that Ronny Kolvik’s chef’s counter tasting menu at Bro in Ålesund is worthy of a star, but since it’s only available for two people per night and not the sole concept of the restaurant (the rest of the diners can choose à la carte options), the Michelin inspectors probably won’t consider it.

Sweden

Total listings: 81
Plates: 13
Bib Gourmand: 44
Total stars: 15 restaurants, 21 stars
⭐⭐⭐ 1
⭐⭐ 4
⭐ 10
🍀 9

In Stockholm, the most obvious candidate for a star is AIRA, which opened in March 2020. Chef Tommy Myllymäki’s stunning restaurant has been the most talked-about fine dining restaurant opening this year. We also believe that Operakällaren will keep its star despite the change of leadership – the menu seems stronger than ever now with chef Viktor Westerlind at the helm. Brasserie Astoria could also get a star (the Michelin Guide loves Björn Frantzén’s restaurants as much as we do!) – but perhaps the French inspectors think the restaurant is too casual? We’ve also heard great things about Petri and Soyokaze – is there a potential star shower about to rain down on Sweden? We can’t speak from personal experience here, as we haven’t had a chance to visit Stockholm since before the pandemic.

We did, however, get to travel a bit on the west coast of Sweden and finally visited restaurant ÄNG in Åstad, Sweden. Chef Filip Gemzell has already been awarded by the 360°Eat Guide for his sustainability efforts, and we think it’s time that the Michelin Guide awarded him with a star as well.

ÄNG in Åstad, Sweden is deserving of a Michelin star.
ÄNG in Åstad, Sweden is deserving of a Michelin star.

Finland

Total listings: 30
Plates: 19
Bib Gourmand: 3
Total stars: 6 restaurants, 6 stars
⭐⭐⭐ 0
⭐⭐ 0
⭐ 6
🍀 2

Our Hungry members in Helsinki are informing us that Palace is operating at a two-star level, and Savoy is deserving of one star. We haven’t been to either restaurant ourselves yet, but we always trust The Hungries to give us the best intel when we travel.

Iceland

Total listings: 5
Plates: 4
Bib Gourmand: 0
Total stars: 1 restaurant, 1 star
⭐⭐⭐ 0
⭐⭐ 0
⭐ 1
🍀 0

We haven’t been back to Iceland since 2018, so again we turned to our Hungry members for help predicting any Michelin candidates. Rumor has it that chef’s counter restaurant ÓX in Reykjavík is on track to be promoted from a plate to a one-star restaurant. Let’s see!

Our predictions in other media:

VG/Godt.no
Vesterålen Online
Avisa Nordland

Who do you think will get stars this year? Let us know in a comment below.

Kaitlin Orr

Kaitlin Orr and Anders Husa are food & travel bloggers and creative content creators. From their base in Copenhagen, they operate the largest and most influential restaurant-focused travel blog in Scandinavia.

15 comments

  • I think actually Jordnær has the potential of going 3-star this or at least within the next few years. I think they make food as Michelin inspectors usually favor. I think Ghrelin in Aarhus could have the potential. At least it is way better than Substans which disappointed me quite a bit – a very high-priced menu is not enough for a star. It lacked – well – substance.

    • Bummer to hear you had a disappointing experience at Substans! We visited Ghrelin back in 2019 and it wasn’t at the one-star level yet, but glad to hear you had a great meal recently.

      Like with Alchemist, since Jordnær got two stars last year it’s unlikely they’ll jump up to three already. But they certainly seem to be luring in the inspectors with all the caviar and truffles! 😍

  • Considering that Viktor Westerlind joined OK in August this year, I doubt that GM has had any in-depth experience of his style. That said, I believe OK will keep its star – they have already lost it one time.

    AIRA will certainly get a star, likely to be the only new addition in Sweden.

  • In Copenhagen, it is about time for Mielcke & Hurtigkarl to be joined by Sushi Anaba as new one star additions. Anaba for me is worthy of two stars, never had better sushi outside of Asia.

    The new Studio along with mentioned Brace and the Red Cottage also ever-strong pretenders.

    • Sadly, it seems like Mielcke & Hurtigkarl is another one of those restaurants that Michelin keeps overlooking. When we visited Studio in June it still had a little ways to go to get to the star level, but they’re certainly on the right track. And we totally agree about Anaba – the best omakase we’ve had, period.

  • I’d say Koan is definitely at a one star level, if not two, but I assume they will not get it (and are left out of this overview) until the pop up gets turned into a permanent concept and location.

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