In the marina of a beach village kalled Kaberneeme, just 40 km from Tallinn, Anders, Julie and I visited OKOan Estonian restaurant. This restaurant was awarded the title as the Best Family Restaurant 2012 in the Silver Spoon competition and, and judged to be the third best restaurant in Estonia in last year’s Eesti TOP50.
OKO means “Welcome” in Japanese, and you will feel welcomed in this cosy, eco-friendly, rustic and quality-orientated restaurant.
OKO Resto offers familiar flavours and pairs it with flavours they are inspired by around the world. The restaurants chef tries and pride themselves to surprise their customers, showing that an excellent places to eat, can exist regardless of the location.
The Head chef at OKO Joonas Koppel is also quite young, only 25-year-old and he gets most of his inspiration from the nordic countries and specially Copenhagen, Denmark.
The food at OKO was innovative and different compared to traditional estonian meals, and the ingredients and presentations were clearly inspired by new Nordic cooking.
Click HERE to read about Art Priori another Estonian restaurant with young chefs.
Click HERE to read Anders Husas post about restaurants in Estonia
I must admitt that I liked the the food here and even tried to make my verions of them.
Aesthetic and excellent food together with high-level art and an interior executed in a modern twist of Tallinn’s Gothic architecture describes Art Priori to a tee. The restaurant has managed to link the old world with the new in a modern way.
Art Priori is ranked as one of six top restaurants in Estonia. It is not just a place for dining, the place consists of three separate rooms where original art is exhibited. You can enjoy looking at paintings from the past up to todays contemporary art while you savor the excellent menu that the young, dedicated and creative kitchen team prepare for you and savor wine from their diverse colletion.
Some of the art exhibited when we were there are from Jüri Mildeberg a self proclaimed hedonist that really enjoys what he is doing. This widely recognized autodidact artist is best known as an illustrator and designer of children’s books and has won several prize. He has had numerous exhibitions both locally and abroad.
You can also delight in original art pieces from Flemish and German masters while you dine at Art Priori.
The dedicated head chefs Orm Oja and Mart Klaas are only 23 and 25 years old, but already quite experienced in cooking, the youngest of them Orm has already been cooking in a professional kitchen for 7 years. Living in Norway I was curious about Orms name and if it was a common name in Estonia, he told us that it was not and that his mother got it from the book Kristin Lawransdaughter by Sigrid Undset, no wonder the norse connection.
The Guys tell us that they are inspired by the New Nordic style of cooking and by the east. They combine their new found knowledge with Estonian traditional ingredients to make tasty scrumptous dishes.
During Estonia’s restaurant week I got to go and visit Art Priori and I must say I was delightfully surprised considering my first encounter with the restaurant.
I was invited to Art Prioris pop up event at Tøyengata Bodega in Oslo with Julie and Anders. The restaurants two head chefs had come to Oslo Norway to present Estonian fine dining at its best.
I have to admit that we were a little disappointed. The dishes that we got served did not resemble the pictures from Art Prioris web page, and the food was decent but not exquisite. From what we understood the menu was the same as the one in Tallinn, but I guess that in an unorganized Bodega kitchen the guys met some challenges. Their working conditions was quite different here from the well organized cooking space that the guys were used to.
When we got the opportunity to go to Estonia for their restaurant week, we said yes but we were hesitant, needless to say we did not have to worry. The food was fabulous, reminiscing about our evening at Art Priori I can still remember the different layers, texture and taste from the different dishes.
The restaurant also boast of a wood fired grill that gives flavor nuances to their dishes and when I took a peek through the kitchen viewing window I recognized a Big Green Egg in their neat and organized kitchen, nothing was out of place. Art Prioris contemporary kitchen is oriented on fresh seasonal produce and their menu is constantly changing, offering the best of what is available during each season.
All I can say is that the dinning experience at Art Priori exceeded my expectations and if you ever go to Tallinn this is a must go to place.
Tallinn in Estonia has a lot to boast about, the city has a lot of history and there are a lot to see.