Probably because the Michelin inspectors finally realized how fucking metal it is to serve a tempura-fried bird’s brain in its own skull, Noma has finally earned its third Michelin star.
The 2021 Nordic guide published today, with the press release citing the Copenhagen restaurant’s “strong connection to nature and its holistic approach” in creating “creative and complex dishes.” Restaurants that receive the three-star ranking typically fall under various categories that Noma has always exemplified: long tasting menus with thoughtful beverage pairings, strong front of house service, and well-executed cuisine that is, in theory, worth traveling across the globe for.
In Michelin parlance, two stars denotes “excellent cooking, worth a detour,” whereas three stars signify “exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey.” Dining trophy hunters and food obsessives have long made pilgrimages to Copenhagen specifically to dine at chef René Redzepi’s storied establishment.
Noma has held two Michelin stars for nearly its entire existence — including after its celebrated relaunch in 2018 in a new location with a new, seasonally rotating menu. That relaunch fueled a new series of reviews from critics across the USA (who don’t usually travel abroad for their regular write-ups). Jonathan Gold of the Los Angeles Times, Tom Sietsema of the Washington Post, and Pete Wells of the New York Times all flew to Denmark to chime in on the changes, and, for the most part, raved. (During the pandemic, Noma briefly pivoted to being an outdoor wine and burger bar, but reopened for full-service dining in July 2020.)
Speculation as to why three-star status eluded René Redzepi’s restaurant — having sat atop the World’s 50 Best list multiple times and, more broadly, influencing an entire generation of fine-dining chefs to more deeply explore what time, place, and maybe even lichen mean to their cooking — have run rampant over the years, with various Michelin folks offering cryptic explanations like “It’s about the food” and “we’re very strict and inflexible in our criteria.”
Over on Instagram, the restaurant posted a photo depicting the three Michelin stars with a long caption that started: “The seemingly impossible has happened.”