The MICHELIN Guide has come back to Estonia! After visits from anonymous inspectors, 34 restaurants in Estonia have earned a place in the 2023 MICHELIN Guide. This year 180° by Matthias Diether received an additional MICHELIN Star, making it the first restaurant with two Stars in Estonia. NOA Chef’s Hall kept its Star, Soo received a Green Star, and Tuljak was awarded a Bib Gourmand.
“Thanks to last year’s inaugural edition, more and more people are discovering the hidden jewel that is Estonia’s culinary scene – and we are delighted that this second edition updates and expands that original selection. The country offers a very appealing mix of restaurants and can boast plenty of skilled and ambitious chefs who are taking full advantage of the local produce. Now is a great time to visit if you want to take advantage of a varied and burgeoning gastronomic scene, whose quality is illustrated by the promotion of restaurant 180° by Matthias Diether.” said Gwendal Poullennec, International Director of the MICHELIN Guides.
How do restaurants earn a MICHELIN Star?
All MICHELIN-recommended restaurants are chosen based on the quality of their cooking, so inclusion in the guide is a sign of quality in and of itself. Only the best-of-the-best are awarded MICHELIN Stars. A MICHELIN Star in Tallinn is the same as a MICHELIN Star in Turin or Trondheim. The decision is not made in isolation; several Inspectors eat at a restaurant under consideration before the team comes to a final decision.
When Inspectors decide whether a restaurant is worthy of a star, they take into consideration the following points:
- The quality of ingredients
- The harmony of flavors
- The mastery of techniques
- The personality of the chef as expressed through their cuisine
- Consistency, both throughout the menu and over repeat visits
A MICHELIN Star is awarded solely for the food on the plate. This means any type of restaurant, formal or informal, specializing in any type of cuisine has the potential to earn a star.
Estonia’s first two-Star restaurant
180° by Matthias Diether, Tallinn
Sitting within a modern harbor development outside the city center is this stylish restaurant named after the 180° view from its U-shaped open kitchen. After drinks and snacks in the restaurant’s futuristic bar, guests can choose whether to have the 4-course tasting menu ‘Flavours of 180 Degrees’ or the 6-course tasting menu ‘Matthias’ Inspiration’. All come with a choice of one of three drink pairings: two wine-based and one non-alcoholic. Originally from southern Germany, Matthias earned his first MICHELIN Star in Berlin with his restaurant First Floor. At 180°, he builds on that experience with a range of unique, ambitious dishes. Ambitious, showy dishes are experienced are his hallmark, and his modern creations show an array of both flavor and texture contrasts, as well as paying great attention to detail. Service is warm and engaging and helps to create a relaxed atmosphere.
Fine dining in a spectacular seaside location
One MICHELIN Star: NOA Chef’s Hall, Tallinn
Set within the same striking modern building as restaurant NOA is the stylish NOA Chef’s Hall. Here, guests are invited to start their evening with an aperitif served in a romantic lounge with a splendid view of Tallinn Bay and the Gulf of Finland. The on-view kitchen is the heart of the restaurant and the open fire is used to great effect. Luxury ingredients are to the fore and are sourced from around the world, depending on what’s best, be it scallops from Norway or lobster from Canada, but locally foraged and preserved produce also plays its part. The creative 7-course menu, designed by head chefs Roman Sidorov and Tõnis Siigur, keeps clients engaged from start to finish, with complex, highly original dishes full of complimentary flavors and texture layers. Choose between two well-selected wine flights to accompany the meal, and take advantage of the sommelier’s expert advice. The friendly front-of-house team is proud of the experience they help create, and their enthusiasm makes for a delightful evening.
What is the MICHELIN Bib Gourmand?
Everyone knows that a MICHELIN Star is one of the most sought-after awards in the culinary business. Still, not everyone is as familiar with the “Bibs” — short for Bibendum, the actual name of the iconic MICHELIN Man. The Bib Gourmand designation started in 1997 as a way to recognize restaurants offering high-quality cooking at a great price. While each Bib Gourmand restaurant is unique, they tend to share a more straightforward style of cooking, featuring recognizable dishes that you could perhaps replicate at home.
Good food doesn’t have to come at a high price, and these five restaurants in Estonia are proof of that:
NOA, Tallinn — In this restaurant, which offers a magnificent view of the city and the sea, exceptionally fresh fish takes center stage. The cozy room is furnished with natural materials and the full-length windows flood it with light. Seasonal modern menus provide plenty of choices.
Härg, Tallinn — This busy, buzzy, all-day brasserie comes with stone walls, exposed ducting, and striking copper chandeliers. Well-priced modern dishes come with a focus on the chargrill, with steaks taking center stage; the ‘Dirty Steak’, a ribeye, is cooked directly on the charcoal. The courtyard is a popular spot.
Fellin, Viljandi — Expect a warm welcome at this café-cum-bistro set within a red brick building on the edge of the Old Town. It has something of a bohemian air, courtesy of a tiled bar, a mix of artwork, and a laid-back vibe. Carefully prepared, traditional European dishes burst with freshness and flavor.
Lore Bistroo, Tallinn — This modern bistro sits in a cavernous warehouse overlooking the harbor at Port Noblessner. Steel girders, hoists, and concrete pillars provide the backdrop and an open kitchen adds to the buzz. Assured dishes are designed for sharing and are inspired by the owners’ travels.
Mantel ja Korsten, Tallinn — This clapboard house, whose name means ‘mantle and chimney’, has a real picture-postcard look. A green-tiled fireplace and mantel take center stage in a room furnished with bright, bold designs. Mediterranean-inspired dishes are accompanied by well-chosen wines with an organic and biodynamic bias.
The newest addition to this list is Tuljak, a classic Tallinn dining establishment with a retro look. Their creative cooking is rooted in the Baltics and offers lots of enjoyable contrasts in textures and flavors. The restaurant also occupies a lovely spot, with its terrace providing great sea views.
What is a MICHELIN Green Star?
This award recognizes restaurants that hold themselves to the highest sustainability standards and show innovation and accountability while meeting ethical and environmental standards. These restaurants offer top-notch, eco-friendly dining experiences. By working with sustainable producers and suppliers to minimize waste and remove non-recyclable materials from their supply chain, they inspire both keen foodies and the hospitality industry as a whole.
Estonia’s Green Star restaurants
One is an intimate dining experience in a nature resort. The other is located in the hippest neighborhood of the capital. Both have sustainability at the heart of their business.
Located in Maidla and run by chef Daanius Aas, the recipient of the 2023 MICHELIN Young Chef Award, restaurant Soo is a new addition to this year’s Estonian MICHELIN Guide. Here at an estate being transformed into an exclusive nature resort, their intimate restaurant champions local produce and is guided by very real ecological considerations. This gastronomical experience braids together history, modernity, and minimalism. Inspired by untouched nature and the freshest vegetables in the region, diners have an opportunity to taste all four Estonian seasons on the plate, as the menu changes with the season. A homely and cozy atmosphere on the grounds of an old manor complex guarantees that every guest feels welcome.
The fine art photography center Fotografiska Tallinn is a Telliskivi hotspot. Above the museum, you’ll find their rooftop restaurant where you’ll be treated to a beautiful view of Old Town. And while the view might be the first thing to grab your attention, your gaze will soon be drawn to the open kitchen running the length of the room.
Fotografiska follows a ‘leaf to root, nose to tail’ mantra and employs a zero-waste approach. Each ingredient of their modern, Nordic dishes is chosen with care, using only fresh seasonal ingredients in imaginative configurations that let nothing go to waste. About 80% of their ingredients are produced locally, many of which are organic and sustainably grown or raised by small artisan producers. Honey comes from hives on the rooftop, and leftover leaven bread is turned into flour to make the next batch. Drinks are made with the same no-waste approach; mixologists make syrups from kitchen trimmings, such as the leftover bits from cleaning a pumpkin. Any excess bio-waste that can’t find its way into a dish or drink is turned into compost overnight.
MICHELIN Special Awards celebrate talented professionals
The 2023 MICHELIN Young Chef Award goes to chef Daanius Aas, from Soo restaurant. Daanius Aas works alone, cooking for five tables in this intimate restaurant that forms part of Maidla Nature Resort. His strong sustainability ethos has earned the restaurant a MICHELIN Green Star and this, coupled with his championing of local produce and his creative yet balanced cooking make him a great ambassador for Estonian cuisine.
Other restaurants included in the 2023 MICHELIN Guide
In addition to the restaurants awarded a MICHELIN Star or Bib Gourmand, the other restaurants in the MICHELIN Guide Estonia selection celebrate a wide variety of culinary styles spread throughout the country.
- 38, Tallinn
- Alexander, Pädaste
- Art Priori, Tallinn
- Barbarea, Tallinn
- Cru, Tallinn
- Fii, Tartu
- Gianni, Tallinn
- Hõlm, Tartu
- Horisont, Tallinn
- Joyce, Tartu
- Lahepere Villa, Kloogaranna
- Lee, Tallinn
- Mere 38, Võsu
- Mon Repos, Tallinn
- Moon, Tallinn
- Paju Villa, Tallinn
- Pull, Tallinn
- Puri, Tallinn
- R14, Tallinn
- Rado, Haapsalu
- Rado, Tallinn
- SMAK, Tallinn
- Tchaikovsky, Tallinn
- Wicca, Laulasmaa
A dream destination for foodies
Short distances mean you can try the best the capital has to offer and then enjoy seasonal dining out in the countryside on the same weekend or even the same day. Thanks to an extensive coastline and freshwater lakes, you can try local fish. The forests and bogs offer up a bounty of local herbs, berries, and mushrooms, which creative chefs use to offer modern twists on traditional dishes. The best way to try it all? Take a culinary road trip around Estonia!