Picking up where I left off chronologically on this journey, we found ouselves in Tallinn, Estonia for my August birthday weekend. The day itself was celebrated at Restaurant Ö, but Tallinn proved to be quite a tasty town at large. Here are a few highlights, if you are headed that way.
Olde Hansa -- a medieval themed restaurant named after the Hanseatic League of merchants -- might lure you in for the first time with touristy gimmicks such as waiters in Robin-Hood-style tights, lute-playing waitresses, elaborate script-font menus, and a sink that uses a tipping kettle for a tap. But it will lure you back because of the sheer quality of its cuisine.
It's a small gesture, but you can usually judge the quality of a restaurant by the bread they serve before the arrival of the meal. Here, the bread here is served not with butter, but with a generous blob of some kind of soft, creamy, savoury whipped cheese. A good omen. Food portions here are large and the cuisine is hefty, so you're going to have to wrestle with how much of that yummy cheese and bread to scarf.
Babs orders a spectacular fish platter called "Neptune's Feast". Old Hansa trumps its own whipped cheese opener by adding fish eggs to it. Medieval magic.
I order a "Game Pot" (I think some minced mix of wild boar and deer / elk), which comes with pickles, berries, cabbage, butternut squash and...just in case everything else wasn't filling enough... a pastry cement bag filled with some kind of chickpea mash or spelt. My point is, my advice above about the bread and cheese comes from experience, not preaching.
If you're dining in a group, you can apparently pre-book a medieval feast. Yet another place where we'll need to come back to with reinforcements! If you make it there before I do, I'd love to hear how it went!
Call it deja vu. Jump forward a few centuries to Restoran AED (also known as Embassy of Pure Food), one of the most modern and stylish eateries in town, and what you'll find is a seasonal all-organic menu, i.e. food that was grown in ways much more akin to medieval times compared to all the chemical hocus pocus used now.
The dinner menu was out of our budget, but they have some delightful lunch bargains, best enjoyed at an outside table while basking in the Nordic sun and the fragrance of AED's herb hedge.
AED was having a carrot festival at the time. We tried the carrot and sea-buckthorn smoothie, which was an absolutely delicious and slightly less acidic twist on my much-loved carrot-and-orange juice mix. We also tried the carrot cappuchino -- a very clever take on how a drinkable carrot-and-coffee cake might taste.
AED's salads are great to look at, and deliver on taste (don't just push away the flower petal garnish; they're edible too). I can't pass up a smoked duck salad when I see one, and paired it with a beautiful beetroot soup, which I mentioned in my post on Souperb Finds in Eastern Europe.
Babs goes for their smoked trout salad, followed by a spelt pasta with rabbit. YUM.
Tallin's camera-friendly Nordic sunlight and its heady mix of Scandinavian, Russian, Baltic and medieval architecture make for a great day of walking around its old town. If your feet prove too itchy to sit down to eat, consider grabbing a treat to go at Bonaparte Deli (whose big brother Bonaparte is another very well known stylish restaurant in town we couldn't afford this time around).
Deli patrons -- who wouldn't look at all out of place in New York's Upper East Side trust-fund-financed apartments -- were nipping in and out collecting cake orders the entire time we were browsing. We eventually set out with a very well made anchovy and egg sandwich, and a pretty looking chicken wrap.
Snapped just in the nick of time! A very yummy Bornaparte Deli chocolate roll. Now, to walk some of this off.