From the minute the then-budding superstar chef René Redzepi opened Noma in 2003, the Copenhagen restaurant started making a name for itself worldwide as THE restaurant to visit for anyone craving a taste of where food ingenuity was headed next. That is, anyone who managed to score a reservation—as impossible to get as the obscure-ingredient-filled menu was for many visitors to decipher. Noma has since earned two Michelin stars and landed the #1 spot on the World's 50 Best Restaurants list, first in 2010 and nearly every year since then. It's also gone on to win just about every other accolade imaginable for a chef or restaurant.
This summer, Noma became much more accessible for those who want a taste of what Redzepi and his mad-genius team are up to. At the end of July, its spinoff restaurant 108 quietly opened its doors at Strandgade 108, steps away from Noma, where it's held pop-up dinners in months leading up to the opening.
108's dining room; photo credit: Freya Mcomish.
With a kitchen helmed by mega-talented chef and co-owner Kristian Baumann—who was born in South Korea and raised in Denmark—108 is the first restaurant headed by an alumnus of Noma in which René Redzepi is also a partner.
108 aims to preserve the main tenets of Noma—foraging, fermentation and farm-to-table - but in a more casual setting where diners are encouraged to chat with their neighbors and pour their own drinks. You can also order a la carte, as opposed to spending roughly $300 for a tasting menu as you would at Noma. So, what should you expect if you visit 108? Here are 8 surprising things we discovered when we dropped in for dinner in the first few days after it opened.
1. It's easy to get a reservation
You can reserve online and get a reservation within a week or two of your desired time. They even have a table for walk-ins. Go here to book.
2. They serve whipped cream with their bread instead of butter
Homemade sour dough bread and whipped cream.
3. 108 has access to Noma's fermentation lab. For example, the salted gooseberries in this dish might also be served at Noma.
Cured mackerel with salted gooseberries and an oil of spruce wood.
4. The chefs harvest ingredients for your meal the morning of service.
108 has a collaboration with a farm outside of Copenhagen, where it grows 195 different ingredients for use in 108's dishes.
Grilled courgettes with hay cheese and black currant leaf.
5. You're encouraged to eat with your hands.
The caramelized milkskin in this dish is used like a moo shu wrapper or tortilla.
Caramelized milk skin with grilled pork belly, cress and wasabina.
6. Not all of the ingredients are local.
108's credo is about using the best ingredients, and that doesn't always mean local ones. According to chef Baumann, they might use incredible lemons they find in Italy; the blueberries for this dessert are from Sweden.
Wild blueberries marinated in birch syrup and seasoned with pine salt, anis isop, mint and corn flowers. Served with double cream flavored with toasted seawood and ale.
7. A new bridge connects 108 to the heart of tourism in Copenhagen.
This is Nyhavn, home of Hans Christian Andersen. A bridge just opened up about a month ago connecting Nyhavn to Christianshavn, which used to be a dead end.
8. 108 is also 5 minutes from the Paper Island, a Copenhagen street food destination.
This spot is also clearly a legacy of René Redzepi, who has played a key role in creating a trend-setting food culture in Denmark, but it's quite a contrast to what's happening at 108 and Noma. Anyone visiting either restaurant can easily continue an exciting Copenhagen food adventure here, not to mention all over the city, the country, and throughout Scandinavia.
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