The clock is ticking on the relaunch of Noma next month and most particularly that all-important hour in which René Redzepi’s world-famous restaurant will fill its reservations calendar from May 2018 and beyond.
On Thursday January 18 at 16:00, the lines will open as globe-trotting gourmets join lengthy phone queues in the hope of acquiring a table at the four-time World’s Best Restaurant winner, now housed in a former warehouse with a staff of 80, part-owned by a guy who washes the dishes.
Ahead of the reboot at Refshalevej 96, Redzepi has been speaking to Bloomberg about what the public can expect from the country’s biggest comeback since Danish Dynamite swapped their summer holiday sun loungers for unexpected glory in Sweden.
“It was time to change, not just the physical address but shedding off the old routine, moving into something new, building a small urban farm,” explained Redzepi.
Cod sperm not a new ingredient
Previously we knew it would open on February 15, consist of seven rooms including one that can seat 40, be incredibly spacious, and have a menu that alternates seasonally every year from seafood to vegetarian to game.
And now we know more about the 2,250 kroner-a-head seafood menu and Redzepi’s intention to cultivate the Scandinavian seabed, sourcing seaweed, crustaceans and fish that not even his specialist team were aware of.
Central to the menu will be sea cucumbers – which Redzepi has figured out a way to cook – and cod using “the inside of it, the face of it, the swim bladder, the stomach, the roe and the sperm”.
Some media have jumped on the cod sperm component, which is apparently fried in a tempura batter, but a quick internet search finds a blog referencing Noma’s use of it as an ingredient in March 2014.
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Still time for some drama perhaps?
By the time we reach the opening night on February 15 – which sold out quickly in November along with the ten weeks during which the seafood menu will be served, up until the end of April – it will be almost exactly a year since the original Noma served its last meal.
“We have to open on February 15, or else it is over,” contended Redzepi. “There is no more cash flow. There’s no more bank loans. There is no more nothing. That is the top of the delay that we can handle as a tiny organisation.”
Given the preparation involved in finding Noma a new lakeside home – complete with a high-tech roof, barbecue, greenhouse, staff quarters and a wide range of single-purpose rooms (including meat, fish, fermentation and prep) – it seems unlikely Noma’s future will be in doubt once the phone lines open on Thursday.
Recent demand for its pop-up restaurants has demonstrated Noma’s appeal. Its Sydney edition in 2016 had a waiting list of 27,000, while in Tokyo in 2015 the number was 62,000.