We had lunch on the last day of service before their sumer holiday. I found the restaurant serene, elegant but simple. A converted warehouse on the waterfront with whitewashed exposed beams but all other surfaces polished wood, metal, glass, stone in shades of gray, black. Danish modern design leather chairs had lambskins draped over their backs also in shades of grey, white, black. All beautiful but the noise as the afternoon proceeded prohibited conversation across the table.
As stated, we rarely eat in restaurants but the multiple course menu and drink pairings seems quite outdated or at best I do not understand how such menus should be composed. Ordinarily, I think of a menu as having a certain internal logic with a progression to a climax and then denoument. Each small plate stood alone with the only obvious coherence being unusual ingredients used in unusual ways. Nonetheless, each course beautifully composed and plated, often whimsically, on heavy stoneware came to the table with an explanation but there was no time to query about seasonings or technique. The 21 courses were served with lightening speed, many times the next course coming before the last finished.
We started off with a vinegar marinated green strawberry served with salted red currants and lavander flowers. The kohlrabi "cocktail" came next: a large, hollowed out whole kohlrabi with a Spanish Chervil straw sticking out of a hole in its side. Pureed, strained raw kohlrabi juice seasoned with some caraway was the refreshing juice replaced in the center. This was served with long greens attached sitting on a bed of straw.Fried moss dusted with porcini powder served on a bed of moss with a creamed sauce was next [ get the Epi -pen Jenise ! ] Crisp, crumbly texture without any taste except for the cep, oil and salt. Pickled and smoked soft centered quail eggs arrived cosseted in a bed of straw still warm in a large stone egg shaped box. I won't go through all 21 courses except the highlights for me- thin crispy outer cabbage leaves dried used as a sandwich for samphire; Seaweed flatbread with roasted rose petals on a bed of gooseberry puree; cured egg yolk surrounded by pencil thin slices of potato drizzled with a savory elderflower sauce. The use of elderflower in a savory way was a revelation and definitely something I will try to work out. Two dishes had ants, lemony and crunchy. One on roasted cucumber dipped into scallop and bee larvae "fudge" did not work but ants on the beef tartare was a winner. Smoked turbot roe on seaweed. The last half of the menu saw many dishes served in a bowl followed by the server pouring a sauce around the bite. It was no longer a revelation after the third such presentation but several more followed.
You had the option of ordering wine from list, ordering the wine paired menu or the juice paired menu or simply water, still or sparkling. I chose the juice pairings, my husband the wine pairing. The juice menu was superior as the flavors perfectly complimented much of the food. Juices included: cucumber/whey; apple/pine; quince; celery/seaweed; rhubarb/green juniper and lingonberry. The flavors were the essence of the primary ingredient with the remaining flavors subtle and most interesting.
The wines however were from small, organic/biodynamic producers that all seemed to be "friends of the restaurant" all said to be"fresh and light". From Steiermark, Niederosterreich, Kamptal,Jura, Loire, Beaune 2010-2013 vintages. All seemed quite thin, sour and adding nothing to the food nor the food to the wine.
MOMA's fame is a problem with diners taking pictures of the plates, asking waiters to photo them at the table, in front of the sign on the doorway and in the kitchen. The # of courses should be severely edited. I wanted to make inquiry about the dishes but service was very rushed and although he staff very friendly and gracious clearly did not have time to spend. After 3 hours we were escorted into the adjacent bar-sitting room and then presented with bill. The number of staff prepping, composing and plating the food, removing all glasses and all flatware between courses contributes to a hefty bill.
I have had the NOMA book for 2 years and finally feel like I can start looking at it and somewhat understand although virtually nothing other than the juices possible in Wisconsin
Mamma Mia !