Noma is one of the world’s most discussed and acclaimed restaurants – and getting a table isn’t easy. When reservation blocks are opened, they’re often announced like rock concerts. Attempting to use their online booking system otherwise can feel futile. And even if you do get the opportunity to dine, the price is beyond many people’s budget: its current vegetarian lunch menu with wine pairings is USD 700 (RM 3,099).
Still, for food lovers, simply visiting Rene Redzepi’s home city of Copenhagen can exude Noma’s presence: the dining equivalent of music fans going to Liverpool and immediately conjuring The Beatles. And now, the clock is ticking for the Noma-curious: Earlier this month, Redzepi announced that 2023 will be “our final year with Noma as we know it.” But for those who still haven’t scored a reservation or – understandably – wouldn’t want to pay even if they could, there is another way. You can go anytime, and all it costs is the price of a beer.
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How to eat dinner at Noma restaurant?
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Regarded as one of the dining capitals of the world, Copenhagen is also a great beer city: home to internationally-acclaimed brands like Mikkeller and Warpigs, hot up-and-comers like Aben and Slowburn, and the historically significant major player, Carlsberg. With this in mind, when Noma famously moved locations in 2017, with help from its previous tenant, the space was transformed into Barr – a self-described “casual restaurant and bar” that, in part, takes its name from an old Nordic word for “barley.”
Yes, true to its fine-dining roots, Barr offers an immaculately plated and served tasting menu alongside its à la carte lunch and dinner options. And if you want to have a sit-down meal, you’re still advised to have a reservation.
But if you’re happy enough to just grab a brew, true to its name, Barr also has a 30-seat beer bar with ten well-curated selections on tap as well as an impressive bottle list featuring plenty of cellar options from the likes of Belgium’s Cantillon and America’s Jester King. No reservation is required, and you can grab a draft for as little as about five bucks.
Drinking culture at Barr
At Barr, the beers, like the food, are served with care – but patrons get something extra with their drink. Each glass is served with a side of history.
Like a mausoleum with alcohol, Barr is still the spiritual home of Noma. Yes, the space was heavily remodelled, but the ghost lurks. And if you have limited time in Copenhagen and are Noma-curious, I found an allure in simply relaxing with a drink in this former global culinary epicentre. Sure, attempting to sap the essence from a restaurant that continues to operate a 20-minute walk down the road may sound odd at first, but it’s no different than visiting any historical site.
Fine dining is multifaceted. Of course, the food – the cooking and technique – takes centre stage. But the experience goes beyond just eating. One of the most popular tourist attractions in Liverpool is The Cavern Club, famous as the venue that launched The Beatles’ career. The Beatles aren’t going to walk through the door and play a set. Heck, the band hasn’t existed in over 50 years. But the feeling of being in that spot – that room that changed rock and roll – is incredible.
By going to Barr, by looking over the waterfront, by simply being at Strandgade 93 in Copenhagen – no, Rene Redzepi probably won’t walk in the door (though he could!) but you are visiting a place that, for a brief moment in time, was, by many accounts, the culinary centre of the world. The fact that you can grab a really tasty New England-style IPA while you’re there is an awesome bonus.
(Hero Image and Featured Image Credit: Daniel Rasmussen)
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