NOMA – The best restaurant in the world (as experienced by a student) Part 1

Booking

Whilst many of you were catching trains to the Olympic Games or soaking up the rays in Marbella, I was lying in bed with my laptop on a glorious mid-August morning. I had set my alarm for 8.30 am, not to go to work or to catch a bus, but to make a restaurant reservation for my boyfriend’s 21st birthday

Nestled in what tourists may find the outskirts of beautiful Copenhagen, Rene Redzepi founded Noma, which has twice been voted the best restaurant in the world: http://www.theworlds50best.com/awards/1-50-winners/noma/. Noma attracts guests from around the world, for business and pleasure alike, and it is rumoured to be notoriously difficult to gain a table. Unsurprisingly, their minimalistic website (http://noma.dk/reservations/) informed me that table bookings were made three months in advance, via an online selection system. After the stress of UCAS and the halls selection system for my university, I felt boldly prepared to press ‘Enter’ at 8.59, get a weekend evening reservation as fast as was humanly possible, before shutting my laptop proudly and going to make a cuppa.

How naïve I was. The system was simple enough, but the painfully slow Internet Explorer teased me several times, as people stole my Saturday 8pm reservation from under my feet and left me back staring at the calendar once again. After half an hour of frantic clicking, I had secured a Thursday lunchtime table. I think I had a nap afterwards.

The restaurant

Once in Copenhagen, I insisted on finding Noma on the first day, to ensure we weren’t late when for our lunch the next day. I don’t think anything could have been worse than having a reservation misunderstanding and not quite having lunch at the best restaurant in the world. Across the water from Nyhavn, the twee hub of tourist activity, was the austere building, which could easily be disregarded as a reputable establishment from studying its exterior. Nevertheless, on the lighting of the large candle pillaring the doors the following day, I had never been so enthusiastic to eat lunch (I was also starving).

On entering the restaurant, a team of around ten chefs met us, smiling broadly beckoning us closer. The maître d’ piped up, ‘Hello, Rachel, let us take your coats,’ to which I turned to my boyfriend in awe, assuming this was either a Derren Brown set up, or, more likely, I had been vigorously Facebook and Twitter stalked (sigh…) To be fair, I had been involved in an excitable Hotmail liaison with ‘Nadine’, attempting to arrange a tour of the kitchen and to meet Rene himself. This was purely to set the icing on the cake (or the perfectly caramelised crème fraiche on the deer antler) for the boyfriend’s 21st, and to smugly consecrate the fact that it would be nigh impossible for him to top that for my birthday.

We were led to our table with chatter of ‘How are you finding Copenhagen?’, ‘How long are you staying for?’, by a sensational waiter who was genuinely interested in how two students found the city, and how could they ever afford such an expensive lunch (to be explained later). On ordering two glasses of champagne and shifting to sit comfortably, I was ready to taste, to drink, to indulge, and be rolled out of that place four hours after. 

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