UPDATE 2/19: Surprise! Days after opening, Redzepi revealed he ~actually~ opened on the 16th, having to postpone to buy himself a little bit more time to put on the finishing touches.
The day has finally come: Noma is back in Copenhagen. After closing the groundbreaking restaurant earlier this year, chef René Redzepi is ready to relaunch Noma 2.0 in a new space with a new menu and a renewed sense of purpose (and maybe even time, and maybe even place).
Noma opened in 2003, and by 2010 was widely considered to be one of the most influential restaurants in the world, thanks in large part to Redzepi’s singular approach to local cuisine. During its initial 13-plus year run, Noma appeared on the top of the World’s 50 Best Restaurant list multiple times, was awarded two Michelin stars, and brought global attention to Nordic cuisine.
Although the original Copenhagen restaurant served its last meal almost one year ago, Noma was never truly gone. Over the summer, Redzepi brought Noma to Mexico for a pop-up that turned out to be one of the biggest food world spectacles of the year. It was just the most recent international destination for Noma, which traveled to Tokyo in 2015 and Sydney in 2016.
But now that Noma the idea has a physical space to match, will the culinary world ever be the same? That, only time will answer, but here now are 20 other questions that explain the brand-new Noma.
1. What is it?
New Noma, Noma 2.0, or, as it’s officially called, Noma, is the second iteration of the restaurant that made Redzepi famous. The restaurant, globally known for serving a tasting menu of Nordic cuisine, also catapulted the practice of foraging for things like elderberry and sorrel into the food media spotlight. (It also spawned a whole genre of journalism, known as I Foraged With René Redzepi.)
The new restaurant is in many ways the same as the old in spirit, but it’s in a different location.
2. What’s new about it?
It has an urban farm. There will also be dedicated rooms for meat, fish, and fermentation, along with a private dining room and staff accommodations, Bloomberg reports. Although Noma now encompasses a veritable complex — with seven buildings — the restaurant’s dining room will still seat just 40 people per night, not including a private room, which seats between eight and 16. Also, the menu will have seasonal themes. (More on that below.)
3. Who’s working at New Noma?
It looks like much of Noma’s old staff is sticking with the restaurant. During the transition, some staff traveled with Redzepi on his inspiration tour through the Nordic region, while those left behind opened up a Copenhagen pop-up under a bridge called Under the Bridge.
Not long after Noma’s last day in the original location, Redzepi announced some new partners: restaurant manager James Spreadbury, service director Lau Richter, and dishwasher Ali Sonko, who started working at Noma the first year it opened.
4. Where is it?
The new restaurant is located less than a mile away from the old Noma in one of Copenhagen’s most historic neighborhoods. The new buildings were in fact built on top of the old fortification of Copenhagen, Redzepi told Explore Parts Unknown.
5. Why did Redzepi want a new Noma?
Redzepi told Explore Parts Unknown that the relaunch will keep Noma relevant. “In order to not fall down completely and become a potential caricature of what you set out to be,” he said, “then I think you just have to kill it all and say, ‘Okay, how do we start again, how do we keep staying on the edge?’”
6. But will Redzepi feel hemmed in by having a permanent space again?
The space is designed to be flexible: “What do we want to do in 10 years with Noma?” Redzepi asked hypothetically. “Who knows, but we don’t want to create a place that can only be one thing. I don’t want to be in a situation where you are fixed in how you can use the space.”
7. What happened to stuff in the old Noma?
The restaurant closed on February 24, 2017. In November, Noma auctioned off all its furniture, tableware, and even its decorative stuffed birds.
8. Sounds like closing old Noma was a big deal. What was the last night like?
~Epic~. Noma’s final guests dined on a menu of 17 different Scandinavian dishes and took plenty of selfies. The staff finished off the night by showering Redzepi in champagne.
9. So that space is just sad and empty now?
Fortunately, no. In June, the old Noma space became the more casual Barr, led by Thorsten Schmidt. Schmidt rose to prominence in Denmark as chef at Malling & Schmidt in Aarhus. At Barr, he’s serving a menu that “draws from the eating and drinking traditions of the European beer belt.” Schmidt no doubt had some big shoes to fill, but Barr already has some of the best schnitzel in town.
10. What took so long?
Not that a year is a long time to relocate and reopen, but Redzepi announced the closure back in 2015. When the restaurant closed last February, he put the reopening timeline as end of 2017. But construction snags delayed the opening: The crew found an ancient stone wall on site. After an investigation into the wall’s significance, construction resumed, but the opening was pushed back to 2018. This left plenty of time for Redzepi and the Noma team to travel throughout the Nordic region for menu inspiration and develop dishes in a shiny, new temporary test kitchen.
11. So, what’s on the menu?
Noma 2.0 will pay even closer attention to seasonality. The first menu, available through May, will focus on Scandinavian seafood. This means “weird shells, deep water seaweed, the eyeball of a cod, slivers of fresh lobster,” according to Noma’s October announcement.
12. Why seafood?
As Redzepi told the World’s 50 Best Restaurants blog, “It just dawned on us that we really only have three strict ingredient seasons in our Nordic region. We have a very cold season, which in Denmark, at least, spans from January until April, when nothing grows. That’s when the ocean is in season. Why haven’t we just been focusing on the ocean instead of trying to put in all these things that are necessary in the standard tasting menu?”
13. Are there pictures?
Yep. In the weeks leading up to the opening, Redzepi has posted photos and videos of various sea creatures to Instagram, a “Darth Vader octopus“ cured in beet syrup and a massive 4.5-ounce oyster, among them.
14. How about pictures of composed dishes?
Redzepi has posted a few intriguing videos from the test kitchen, including a “seaweed and carrot sausage,” a jewel-box-like dessert inside of an apple, and a mushroom and mussel broth that causes hay to magically spring to life.
15. How much does it cost?
The seafood menu is 2,250 kronor, or $375 USD.
16. How much food does that buy me?
There’s no word on how many courses the seafood menu will feature, but the price does not include a wine or juice pairing, which are available for approximately $182 and $132, respectively, at the time of the meal.
17. Are there any reservations left?
Reservations for the first menu sold out on booking system Tock in around 14 hours. Reservations for May through June went on sale January 18, and there are still some slots available for larger groups. In general, reservations in the main dining room are only available for parties of two, four, six, or eight.
18. What happens after seafood season?
“Vegetable season” will start in May, and during this time Noma’s foragers “will be working overtime to maximize the time of the year when the plant kingdom reigns supreme,” according to the Noma website. It’s the only menu Noma recommends for vegetarians or vegans. After that, “game and forest season,” the only season to highlight meat, will take the restaurant from early fall through the end of the year.
19. What does the space look like?
The official Noma account has few details so far: the only glimpse of the dining room is a black-and-white photo of some obscured overturned chairs. Elsewhere on Instagram, it appears that storage is a priority. Danish design company Dinesen posted a photo of some bookshelves. According to cabinetmaker Malte Gormsen Aps, there’s a shelving system built in Douglas fir that’s 84 meters long. In addition to books, the shelves display a miniature replica of the original Noma.
And if this mysterious Instagram post from Noma staffer Daniel Craig Martin is to be believed, New Noma may even look a bit like LA spaceship-restaurant Vespertine.
20. When’s opening night again?
Look out for #Noma2.0 selfies Thursday, February 15.
• Noma [Official site]