Noma in Copenhagen, widely regarded as one of the world's best restaurants, will reopen next Thursday. But instead of serving a $400 tasting menu, there’ll be cheeseburgers and wine on offer.
From next week, diners will be able to enjoy Noma’s new cheeseburgers, made with dry-aged bavette steak, beef garum, cheddar cheese, sliced red onion and a pickle-packed house-made mayo, for only $15.
In ordinary times people wait up to two years to get a table at the famed bastion of New Nordic Cuisine, but these are extraordinary times. Denmark imposed lockdown restrictions on businesses over two months ago, but now the country is preparing for a phased return to normalcy.
Travel restrictions are still in place and Denmark’s tourism industry is not expected to recover for some time, in line with a coordinated lifting of travel restrictions across the EU. Noma is heavily dependent on the gastrotourist dollar, so it makes sense to do something to attract local customers of all kinds.
Noma, as we know it - the innovative world-leading restaurant - will not return to business as usual until July at the earliest. In the meantime, chef René Redzepi has decided to pivot to a new fast-casual concept that will take walk-ins only, and seat guests on socially distant picnic blankets on the restaurant’s grounds.
"It’s about being together, it’s not about trying to be innovative.” - René Redzepi
“We were like, ‘Should we do an ant marinade with raw carrots to have that twist of who we are?’” chef-owner René Redzepi told the LA Times. “But then I’m like, ‘No, why should we do that right now?’ It’s about being together, it’s not about trying to be innovative.”
The Danish government was one of the first to put in place coherent funding programmes to help small businesses such as restaurants. Noma will have its fixed costs covered for the first two months of the shutdown, and up to 80 percent from May 18 to July 8.
While Noma usually welcomes just a few dozen lucky guests a day, the burger concept will serve 500 people daily, from Thursday through to Sunday.
Redzepi is no stranger to flipping his restaurant concept. He closed the original Noma to relocate to its current premises, and opened a pop-up in Mexico in 2017. However, flipping burgers is a new experience for Redzepi.
“It’s an uncharted area for us,” he said. “Some people say, ‘Hey, you might sell 1,000 burgers in a day,’ and we’re like, ‘Well, maybe if tourism was open.’ But nobody really knows.”