Simon Kelner: Hooray for edible sea buckthorn and rose-hip petals

 

Share

I am afraid I'm old enough to remember when restaurant dining was undertaken only on a very special occasion. And even then, a Berni Inn, with its choice of steak or chicken, was regarded as the height of sophistication.

Growing up in Manchester, I can vividly recall when the city had only one Indian restaurant, and how exotic did we all think that was! Now there's a whole postcode which has nothing but balti houses and tandoori establishments, and Manchester has restaurants representing almost every culinary persuasion.

In London today, if you want to taste the national dishes of Mongolia, or you've got your mouth set on a bit of Peruvian-Pacific Rim fusion, there's a place for you somewhere, and for 10 days during the run of the Olympic Games here, you'll be able to sample dishes like sea buckthorn leather and pickled rose-hip petals and bullrush dipped in goat's curd and hazelnut praline.

The concept of pop-up venues is now pretty well established and, for a limited run, the restaurant twice voted the best in the world, Noma in Copenhagen, is coming to London and setting up shop at Claridge's Hotel. Today bookings are open to the general public and, for £195 a head, diners will get a five-course meal specially designed by René Redzepi, pictured, the head chef at Noma.

Even at these prices, you know it's going to be the hottest ticket in town and although it may be beyond most of our budgets, it doesn't seem outlandish for the man recognised as the numero uno in his field. You would have to pay that much to see the world's best opera performers, or for a ticket to football's Champions League final. Also, there are restaurants in the capital where you'd pay almost that much with no guarantee that you'll get memorable food.

Even if you could put aside the damage it did to your credit card, I'm pretty sure you'd remember a night at Noma. In an age when our palates may be jaded, when Heston's bacon-and-egg ice cream is passé and molecular gastronomy seems so last century, Redzepi's concentration on natural, locally sourced ingredients, often gathered by foraging, and presenting them in ingenious, unfussy combinations, appears fresh and interesting.

He also infuses his dishes with touches of humour, like, for instance, edible mussel shells. The only off-putting aspect of the Noma experience is that, if you opt for the full monty – a 12-course tasting menu – you'll be at the table for around four hours.

Can you imagine that? I'd have to tell all my anecdotes at least twice before we'd even got to the malt shortbread, apple discs and Jersualem-artichoke ice cream.

Eating out has become rather fetishised in recent times, but I think the arrival in London of a true global superstar is to be celebrated. Now, anyone got a spare space at their table?

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Computer Science Teacher required

£7200 - £36000 per annum: Randstad Education Nottingham: We are currently recr...

Teaching Assistant Plymouth

Negotiable: Randstad Education Plymouth: TEACHING ASSISTANTS NEEDED FOR PLYMOU...

SEN Teaching Assistant Runcorn

£50 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: SEN Teaching Assistant EBD , Septemb...

Nursery Assistant/Nurse all cheshire areas

£7 per hour: Randstad Education Cheshire: We are a large and successful recrui...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The influx of hundreds of thousands of eastern European workers has significantly altered the composition of some parts of Britain  

Immigration is the issue many in Labour fear most

Nigel Morris
The Lord Mayor of London Fiona Woolf heads the inquiry  

Why should Fiona Woolf be expected to remember every dinner date?

Mark Steel
Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker