NOA Restaurant in Tallinn

If you like to choose your travel destinations according to food culture and great restaurants Estonia is probably not one of the options that pops to your head straight away. But it should be. Tallinn alone is bursting with world-class fine dining restaurants and awesome, innovative hipster cafés and restaurants. The restaurant that has been ranked number one in most travel apps and websites is Rataskaevu 16 in the middle of the beautiful Old Town and I must admit, I had nothing to complain last time we were there in March. The restaurant is in a very old stone building with narrow halls and small stone-walled rooms. The atmosphere there is quite dark but still cozy. Food is amazing of course and the most interesting feature is probably the toilet (at least the ladies’ one); it has a glass floor and underneath it there is a drop to a stone well. I’m not afraid of heights but in the toilet I didn’t feel exactly comfortable and I must admit I sat on the toilet sideways so that I had my feet on the little slit of solid floor, not the glass.

There are loads of other restaurants worth mentioning but the one I want to talk about now is NOA restaurant. It’s on the Eastern edge on Tallinn in Viimsi, on the coast. It is a beautiful 70’s inspired one-floor building with a terrace and the most gorgeous views of the Tallinn harbour, the Old Town behind it and the sun setting behind the Baltic Sea. The furnishing is very airy and quite Scandinavian with a lot of pastel-coloured pillows. 

The last time I visited NOA it was really an accident. The point was to walk along the beach all the way to Viimsi, which takes approximately two hours. By the time we got to Viimsi we were quite hungry but didn’t have our hopes up because NOA is quite popular in and out of Estonia and you definitely need to book a table there if you want to visit. But they had a table! I took only tomato soup but after the watery soups with the worst parts of leftover meat in Slovakia it was definitely the best soup I had had for years, maybe the best tomato soup I had ever had. With the soup you get a little pancake-like something. I couldn’t quite determine whether it was bread or potato, but it was so thin that it crumbled just by looking at it. So delicious.

Last weekend I had some friends over and we like to eat. More specifically we like to eat well. So when one of my girls suggested that we could go to some nicer and a bit fancier place on Saturday I listed places like Rataskaevu, Kaks Kokka and some hipster places in Telliskivi but the moment I remembered NOA I thought we have to go there! I was so impressed by the tomato soup and the rest of their menu looked very interesting so I was very curious to try the other treats there as well. 

Like in many restaurants in Tallinn here as well it was possible to get service in Finnish but I would rather get service in English, we are abroad after all. So even though the receptionist talked to me in Finnish I (without even thinking about it) answered her in English... Must have been confusing. So we got the menus in Finnish but our waiter didn't speak any Finnish and at some point thought that instead of ordering lampaankyljys (lamb) Anni would like to have mustekalapasta (squid pasta). After digging for the correct word for lammas from the back of our brains we eventually managed to order the correct foods. For aperitiv we had prosecco and as a starter I ordered elk pie. Estonians like elk, it seems, because in pretty much every restaurant here you can find dishes with elk meat. The pie was very good, but maybe it could've been a little bit smaller and since the meat is quite bland it could've maybe done with an extra splash of salt. 

For main course I chose fish: pike with artichoke, potato and roe. It was the perfect main course after the elk pie, because it was so light but sooo tasty. All the flavours went together perfectly and the roe brought just enough saltiness to the dish. Before pouring over the dessert menu we got complimentary limoncello's, which was quite perfect since I had been eyeing that on the menu from the start. No surprise it was delicious and nicely sharp after the two warm courses.

The dessert menu looked very interesting and we all went for different options and then dug into each others' plates (a very rare phenomenon in a table where everybody's Finnish!). I went for the Josper banana which turned out to be a banana fried in whiskey with lemon grass ice cream and some crumble. The first bite was a bit surprising because there was no mention of whiskey in the menu but the taste came through quite strongly. But with the ice cream and the crumble it was heaven. The best dessert was probably Anni's Noalaad, which was some sort of crumble with chocolate, raspberries and cherries. It was maybe a little too big a portion, though. 

It is a tradition that when people come to NOA they take selfies and group photos. I say tradition because the two times I've been there I've seen most people go to the terrace for a photo shoot, no matter what the weather is like. But who can blame them with a view like that! So we went and did the same. I could recommend NOA purely because of the beautiful architecture and the gorgeous view. But now I can recommend it for the food and the service as well. Very Nordic, fresh and surprising flavours. 


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