Noma’s Sydney pop-up restaurant may have only just opened, but in this age of social media the reviews are in: it’s spectacular.
Regarded as the world’s best restaurant, at $1160 for a wine-matched dinner for two Noma is also spectacularly expensive.
Is it worth the splurge? Sydney sommelier and former Noma employee James Audas thinks so.
“I spent a year on the floor of Noma in Copenhagen and it was such an intense and amazing experience,” he told The New Daily.
“Noma isn’t stuffy or old-world, it’s really interesting and really great food done in a fine dining environment that’s still approachable.”
The Danish restaurant first opened in 2003 before winning the coveted ‘Best Restaurant’ award in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2014.
Waiting lists for the culinary experience were notoriously long, and in Sydney it’s the same story – seats sold out in 90 seconds and 27,000 people have signed up in the faint hope of cancellations.
For many, it will be their last chance in a long time to sample Mr Redzepi’s fare since he plans to close the Copenhagen restaurant at the end of the year and reopen it sometime in 2017 with an “urban farm” approach.
Mr Audas cites chef Rene Redzepi’s tendency to use only native ingredients as a drawcard for the Sydney pop-up, which will serve up abalone, lantana flowers and ants to hoards of excited customers over the next 11 weeks.
Social media posts reveal one course made from nothing but local seafood and crocodile fat, and a dessert that may replace the pavlova as most Australian: wild berries sitting in a savoury seaweed oil, powdered with Kakadu plum.
Of course, it’s interesting the 12 courses Australians are clambering to experience are made from ingredients that have been here all along.
Perhaps the Noma Sydney phenomenon will give the green light to more indigenous chefs and encourage diners to have a go at eating more kangaroo, or even magpie.
“There are so many amazing Australian ingredients we’ve never worked with and never seen, so I think it’s worth the money just to see what he’s come up with,” explained Mr Audas, who will be dining at the pop-up in the next few weeks.
Chef Redzepi’s ‘native only’ rule is said to be so strict Noma Copenhagen was forbidden from using olive oil or chocolate, as neither are manufactured in Denmark.
It’s not hard to see the allure of Noma – the most renowned restaurant of our time arriving in Australia and making the most of our local produce, while doing away with the traditionally pretentious and stuffy feel of fine dining.
However, $1160 is a lot of money, particularly when you consider where else you could direct your hard-earned dollars.
For example, the same amount of money could buy a cheap return ticket to Paris, a year-long gym membership with some cash to spare or a Macbook Air laptop.
And for those interested in being pampered, the meal ticket could go towards a month massage for 18 months.
For those weighing up whether or not to add themselves to that notorious waiting list, there may be one last consideration: none of the 12 courses feature red meat.