Top 5 Coolest Restaurants in the Coldest Countries24 November, 2012
Some of the world’s coolest restaurants can be found in some of the coldest locations (sorry for the pun :-)), and if you’re a sun-lover, it’s going to take a pretty convincing argument to get you to head to wintertime Chicago or Northern Europe.
We have collated, with the help of Baltic Travel Company, a handful of the best eateries to be found in some of the coldest countries, and why it’s worth strapping on your snow shoes and bundling up warm when you head out for dinner at their tables.
Noma – Copenhagen, Denmark
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Denmark’s extreme northerly location means it receives very few hours of sunlight in the winter, with the sun barely peeking over the horizon and temperatures dipping as low as -30 Celsius – not the place you’d expect to find the best restaurant in the world.
But that’s the title Noma currently holds, having recently won the S. Pellegrino & Acqua Panna World’s Best Restaurant 2012 and Best Restaurant in Europe 2012 awards – and its number-one finish was no change from the previous year, either.
Its chefs draw inspiration from the landscape, culture and local ingredients of Denmark, creating dishes that are steeped in both the history and the future of the country.
Getting a table is a challenge in itself – Noma takes a three-week summer break and doesn’t open at all on Sundays or Mondays.
Bookings can be made 2-3 months in advance, with a waiting list for last-minute cancellations, if you live in the Copenhagen area.
Alinea – Chicago, USA
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Chicago is famed for its distinct seasons, with warm summers, rainy autumns – and cold winters, with night-time temperatures frequently approaching -20 Celsius.
Head out into this arctic environment, though, and you can find Alinea, which is among the world’s most artistic restaurants, turning food into a feast for the eyes as well as for the palate.
Scientific techniques allow food to be served with powders, foams and gels, sometimes directly on to the table, and sometimes suspended in front of the diners.
It’s a truly unique and innovative approach to fine dining, and is all thanks to head chef Grant Achatz, who opened Alinea in 2005 – it has since earned three Michelin stars.
Chez Dominique – Helsinki, Finland
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Based at the heart of Helsinki city centre, Chez Dominique combines Finnish cuisine with French inspiration for the best of both worlds.
This double-Michelin-starred restaurant has capacity for 50 diners at any one time and, like Noma, is closed on both Sundays and Mondays.
Its dishes are updated seasonally, with a menu that incorporates French classics like Croque Monsieur alongside a typically Finnish selection of local ingredients and seafood.
Helsinki’s location on the Baltic Sea helps it to stay a little warmer than it otherwise might, but with temperatures of -20 Celsius an annual occurrence, you’ll still need to wrap up warm.
Per Se – New York, USA
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We head once again to the USA, and to New York, famed for its snowy winters and with temperatures that often dip to below -10 Celsius, and have been recorded at as low as -26.
In the Time Warner Center, at Columbus Circle, you can find Per Se, opened in the spring of 2004 by Thomas Keller.
The focus here is on discovery, and each day’s menu is unique, consisting of nine taster dishes, either from the chef’s selection, or from a vegetable-based equivalent.
“We want the peak of sensation on the palate to be all that you feel,” the restaurant’s website states, adding that the eating experience should consist of “you think ‘wow’ – and then it’s gone”.
The day’s menu can be found on the website too – a typical example from the vegetarian selection might include butternut squash with pear relish, smoked ricotta and yam agnolotti, and pumpkin pie with honey-poached cranberries.
For the carnivores, the chef’s selection incorporates classics like oysters and caviar, foie gras, lobster, bacon-wrapped venison, and desserts such as butterscotch pudding.
Frantzén/Lindeberg – Stockholm, Sweden
A new entry at 20 on the S. Pellegrino/Acqua Panna Top 50 shortlist in 2012, Frantzén/Lindeberg completes our tour of Northern Europe with a visit to Stockholm, where snowy winters often drop below -15 Celsius, and the lowest temperature on record is below -30.
While Chez Dominique looks to classic French cuisine for inspiration, here the ideas are brought over from Asia, and the mood is one of casual finesse.
Rotisserie-roasted chicken combines with honest flavours like mushrooms, accompanied by salad leaves from the restaurant’s own garden for an overall commitment to flavour without fuss.
Desserts are similarly straightforward – pancakes with fruit and ice cream – but the focus on good, locally sourced ingredients is what really helps to set these dishes apart from the crowd.