Sunday, October 2, 2016

Estonia - The Food Chronicles or Who Would Have Thought Here?


Your really thought after four posts with hardly a mention of food, eating or gastronomy that maybe de-I was ready to forswear gastronomic blogging?

Maybe you think that a person with the vision, ethics and nobility of a George Washington or an Abraham Lincoln is going to be our next President too.

No, here is the complete, official, authorized, intensively researched de-I Eats report on the Tallinn, Estonia restaurant scene after eating five meals out.

We arrived in Tallinn after 24 hours of travel around 5:30 PM on a Thursday. Our hotel was a very nice place right on the outskirts of the Old Town so we decided that we'd walk into it just to get our bearings. We realized we were hungry but we were right in the most touristy center square and were reluctant to eat there. I got out my trusty TripAdvisor App on my phone. It located a place that was literally 3 blocks away that was the #1 rated in Tallinn and wasn't that expensive. Going to the place they told us they were completely booked not just that night but the next two nights we were in Tallinn as well. Being pretty exhausted, we went back to the hotel and ate there. Our meal was actually pretty good. Wife had a mushroom risotto that was quite well done with three kinds of mushrooms and I had a duck breast that had a great skin component.

Our hotel had a fabulous breakfast buffet that was included in the price of the room. There were all kinds of cured meat and fishes, cheeses, fruit, six kinds of bread, eggs made to order, various breakfast meats and many other things that I didn't look at because I don't eat them (like all kinds of cereals and muesli). And the quality was extremely good especially the cured meats and fish.

At lunch we took a chance at going back to that top rated restaurant. They were booked for lunch as well but said they could give us a table if we could be done in an hour and fifteen minutes. We took it.

 Wife had an exceptional salmon with a crispy skin and enough salmon eggs to fill four Ikura Nigiri.
I had a Braised Elk that was melt in your mouth tender, wonderful flavor and perfectly seasoned. 

 During the whole time we were in Estonia, I don't think we used a salt shaker once, things were seasoned that well. You will also note the presentation of the food. Every place we ate at had presentation of this quality. The portion sizes you will not were not horribly large. So though we thought of this lunch as our big meal of the day, we ended up wanting to have some more to eat for dinner. Not wanting to deal with the whole need a reservation thing again (we were told it was this way for just about everything of quality in the Old Town area), we merely went to a cafe type place where we had some drinks that afternoon. We were really surprised at how good it was.

To start we shared this cream of pumpkin soup. It had pumpkin seeds in it that gave it a nice crunchy component and wasn't as over sweet as pumpkin soup often is in the US.
Then Wife had a piece of beef filet (not tenderloin) that she thought was a bit chewy but had good flavor and I had a Lamb Chop...though actually that turned out to be a Middle Eastern style Chopped Lamb - ah the joys of menu translations. We were very happy with both dishes given it was just a cafe.
The Beef
The Lamb - the tomatoes on this were really good!
And in honor of Son-in-Law 2B, I had to try this Estonian craft rye ale
Reminded me a lot of rye whiskey

Oh a note on wines. We drank wine by the glass most of the time and had some nice stuff (like a really big pour of a 9 year old Barbaresco at the hotel meal) for not a whole lot. 

The following day, because of the need for an early nap we were way out in the boondocks for the Television Tower at around 2 PM and not having eaten. But we were told they had a restaurant and snack bar on the top. Wife wanted to eat a good meal so we opted for the restaurant in spite of my reservations about eating a meal at a tourist restaurant like this. Boy was I wrong. This meal was every bit as good as the one we had at the top rated place.

Because of our experience with portion sizes being smaller, we decided we could have a first course and not be too full. 
Wife started with an onion soup. It had a slight amount of vinegar which made it taste sweet/sour
My first was a smoked eel with a beet and fennel salad. Wow! Top notch. The eel was not too fishy and the salad was great counterpoint to the fish smoked favor
Wife had a roast chicken that had as good a flavoring on the skin as the duck I had earlier with a tasty black risotto
I had braised pork cheeks - moist, tender, great flavor but not highly fatty (I think they must have brined the meat). The mashed potatoes with were excellent too.
I had another beer that I think was Belgian but it only had a label in Estonian so I couldn't tell. It was good too.

So all in all we were very surprised in a good way about the eating and the value (never spent more than $75 for a meal), with one exception. On our last night we only wanted to have a snack and had seen this stand near our hotel that had among other things Doner Kebab. Long-time readers will remember Wife and my love affair ever since Istanbul for Doner Kebab. This was called Doner Kebab with fries. We are thinking the Doner Kebab sandwich with a side of fries. No it is a tiny bit of Doner Kebab type meat on a bunch of fries with thousand island and a ketchup type of sauce over it and pickled onions, hot peppers, cucumbers on the top. NOT Kebab like we expected. In fact we saw very little if any street food during our time in Tallinn at all.

SPECIAL FEATURE - Return of Signs of the World

Seen on a bus in Tallinn
No dropping of drinks into a puddle
No leaving of S curved smoke in the bus
Skates with brakes on the tip forbidden
You must have an anti-theft lock on your bike
But you can bring a dog who likes biting others


alexis said...

Estonia was on the list for this summer!! But we ended up going to see our friends in CZ instead - maybe next time!

Dad said...

I think in high season Tallinn at least would be pretty crazy with tourists.

Agent W and the Derf said...

Glad you both found good eats in Tallinn! Love the pictures!

JRR said...

D-I is back in form!!