Tones of earthy beige, scenes of stuffed warthogs feasting with foxes and beavers, chandeliers that add a touch of class and overstuffed shelves with classic farmhouse staples is what greets you when you enter this restaurant in Tallinn’s Old Town. It’s big, just like a farmhouse kitchen, and there’s an open range where the chefs cook and cavort but all of this is so stylish and so well done creating that cosy, warm feeling of belonging.
Attention to detail is evident. Menus look handwritten and are tied together with string. The rabbit liver paté I order comes in a small jam jar and is scooped out with a spoon on to the crisp toast. The combination of creamy, nutty, elegant paste is complemented by chokeberry onion marmalade with a hint of sweetness, a hint of sour. The texture of this dish is balanced and the flavours are just remarkable. The Paul Mas Chardonnay from Languedoc works but it’s the Cono Sur Bicicleta Pinot Noir that really does the trick with this dish with its light, juiciness and overtones of pepper.
The waiter is attentive, shows sincere concerns on whether you like this and asks his colleague if he forgets the name of a certain ingredient. They’ve obviously been trained well, not too much, not too little.
The red deer from Saaremaa is perfectly pink and rests on a bed of wild mushroom orsoto, a type of risotto with kernels slightly larger reminiscent of bulgur. I take a bite of gooseberry, bitter and sour and not at all to my liking. But then I mix it with a bit of the creamy orsoto and top it with a slice of red deer and it’s exactly what you need for that lift of acidity that transforms bland to bloody good. Red deer is similar to what we commonly know as roe deer. The meat is lean and the flavour is mild compared to elk but its taste is unique in its refinement. The juniper wine sauce adds that vital tartness to complete the dish. My choice of wine Raimat Abadia Cabernet Sauvignon/Tempranillo 2013 is heavy enough to carry it through to a satisfying wholeness of flavours.
The wine list, by the glass anyway, is disappointing. If you offer me a glass of Zonin Prosecco one more time instead of a decent champagne or cava as an aperitif, you might find yourself with one less customer. Why, when small bottles of champagne are readily available?
The exclusive use of local ingredients is really pleasing and it shows in the freshness of the flavours. The price is so worthy of a mention too. The entire meal, and I forgot to mention the homemade bread with home made butter, including a gin and tonic for starters, cost €44.
Ambience: Light, cosy, stylish
Food: Local Estonian ingredients, game, wholesome
Prices: Dead reasonable for top quality
Service: Attentive, warm
Wines: Disappointing selection by the glass
Drinks: Non-alcoholic homemade lemonade
My rating: 8/10