The gastronomic capitals of the world (London, New York, Tokyo, Singapore, and so on) all stand out with the fact that they offer cuisines from all around the globe. In such places, you do not have to travel anywhere to taste the food of different countries. What kind of a culinary trip could you take in Tallinn?
Before exploring the flavours of the world, you should know the best local flavours. Restaurants Leib and Ö offer the most genuine Estonian flavours for your sampling. Restaurant Leib serves up traditional Estonian dishes with a modern twist. The team at Leib works closely with a network of small, local farms who supply everything they need. You can now order these goods to your home within Estonia from the restaurant’s e-store: Talust Koju.
Restaurant Ö is a miracle of Estonian cuisine. They transform simple peasant food into excellent fine dining dishes. The restaurant emphasises the finest nuances of rustic flavours. With the help of the latest cooking techniques, they are able to turn even the most robust ingredients into an enjoyable meal for both the eyes and mouth.
When it comes to the flavours of the countries closest to us, they are not considered as exotic as those from farther away. Perhaps it is for this reason that there are not many Finnish, Swedish or Latvian restaurants in Tallinn. There is, however, one exception with our largest neighbour – Russia.
Restaurant Moon, like restaurant Leib, serves up traditional Russian dishes in a modern way. Their borscht with pies, potato dumplings, buckwheat blinis, pike fish cake, and many other dishes have become local legends. Regular customers protest as soon as one of these dishes is temporarily removed from the menu.
Restaurant Troika on the Town Hall Square highlights the theatrical side of Russian cuisine. At the door of the restaurant, visitors are greeted by a taxidermy bear and the wait staff wear traditional garments. Vodka is poured into glasses with a magnificently high arc, and all the classic dishes of Russian cuisine are represented, from a diverse selection of dumplings to skilfully cooked sturgeon.
Few cities can boast authentic Ukrainian cuisine. In Tallinn, however, you can find a restaurant called Odessa that is run by a Ukrainian family. The Ukrainians who visit it say that even the city the restaurant was named after would be proud of their dishes. The eggplant ‘caviar’, Odessa-style vorschmak, bograch-goulash, zraza pike-perch fillet... these are just some of the dishes that you can’t get anywhere else in Tallinn besides Odessa.
Out of all the cuisines of the world, Italian food is the most represented in Tallinn. You can find Italian restaurants at literally every step in the city centre. One of the newest of them is La Prima Pizza. The restaurant’s Estonian owner spends half of her time in Italy and the other half in Tallinn. She has a personal connection to all the restaurant’s dishes and this is evident to customers.
The veteran local Italian restaurant is La Bottega. A person entering the restaurant first passes by an impressive wine shelf several metres high, after which they can eat authentic tavern food of unshakeable quality behind tables covered with homely checkered tablecloths.
The more expensive and reserved side of Italian cuisine is represented by restaurant Gianni on Jõe Street in Tallinn, while Il Gallo Nero, in the Old Town, offers the atmosphere of an authentic village inn.
The wine bar Wine Not? is not exactly a restaurant, but it does serve small snacks to accompany its wines. However, their Portuguese wine selection is exemplary. The Portuguese owner of the wine bar, who lives in Tallinn, personally knows all the winemakers whose wines he sells. The story of each wine is retold to an interested party in a lengthy, thorough, and interesting way. You would not find such a diverse selection of Portuguese wines in the countries neighbouring Estonia.
Restaurants offering Georgian, Armenian, and Azerbaijani cuisine are quite rare in Europe. It could not be said that there are many in Estonia, but the Tallinn restaurants Tbilisi (Georgian cuisine), Sevan (Armenian cuisine), and Faeton (Azerbaijani cuisine) are authentic and bring back many emotions for the people who have visited these countries. Caucasian restaurants represent a lifestyle, not just a national cuisine. These restaurants kindly offer explanations on the best preparation of their dishes. However, if you were to try to use these tips to prepare dishes as good as theirs at home, you would never succeed.
High-quality Asian restaurants have been the gastronomic pride of Tallinn for many years. As time goes by, the quality keeps going up. You could only find a few modern Asian restaurants like Chedi in the world. The kitchen of Chedi is run by chefs with experience from London’s famous restaurant Hakkasan. Chedi has served up unique dishes prepared on super-hot wok pans for more than ten years in Tallinn.
The wide variety of Thai cuisine is represented in Tallinn on the best level by Nok Nok. The restaurant’s head chefs have worked in the best kitchens of Thailand and have shown their skills in many countries around the world. The restaurant offers a very authentic dining experience like in that of a five-star Thai hotel restaurant.
The newly opened restaurant Guru on Aia Street brings the highest level of Indian cuisine to Estonia. Restaurants Yakitori on Pronksi Street and Kampai in the Noblessner district represent the specialties of Japanese cuisine in the most genuine way.
That was quite a lengthy culinary trip, was it not? You can easily spend a whole week enjoying the best flavours that Tallinn has to offer. Even then, you would not be able to sample all the excellent options because gastronomic Tallinn is developing rapidly and offers new delicacies every year.