It has become a bit of a summer tradition (two years in a row is tradition, right?) for us to take a mini vacation in Tallinn. It’s a small city, and one can easily get around by foot, and there are many fantastic restaurants to visit. Additionally, price level is low compared to Sweden; a glass of nice wine costs less than 10 euros, and the most expensive glass might take you back 20. It’s so funny, you cannot even get a glass of house wine in Sweden for that price. However, as with any other destination, finding the good places requires some work and good eye. So here are a few recommendations for foodies and friends of the fermented fruit in the capital of Estonia.
We started our vacation with a repeat visit to Leib Resto, voted the best wine restaurant in Tallinn by Wine Spectator. Leib has a wonderful terrace, where they even cook the food in the summer, and one can book a table there with an option to move inside if it rains. The menu features fresh Nordic ingredients, like chanterelles, trout and Ramson. Leib has a long wine list by the glass, and because they use the Coravin, they can afford to have some special stuff available. They also had five/six sherries by the glass for aperitif, or as we like to have them, as dessert. Sherry is my new obsession, and I will write some more about that later.
During the past year, the Leib family has expanded. They have opened a wine bar, Pazzo, in the old town of Tallin, and more casual bistro restaurant, Umami in Mustamäeki, a taxi ride away. We visited both. The wine bar, Pazzo, has a fantastic selection of wines. Their house champagne is Laherte-Freres and Cava Loxarel. In addition, there are several nice nature wines, orange wines and other small producer wines from around the world (mainly old world). There are also six different wine flights with different themes: Sauvignon blancs, Pinot noirs, orange wines etc. The bar serves also small plates of food: charcuterie, oysters and other snacks. I would rate Pazzo one of the best wine bars I know, so almost a good reason itself to travel to Tallinn.
Umami Resto is another good reason. It is perhaps one of the most pleasant restaurants I have ever visited. Largely thanks to the weather, as Umami has a fantastic orchard garden, with tables and seats for probably a hundred people. The tables are scattered loosely around the large fenced backyard of a light blue villa house. The menu is simple, relying on good ingredients. A bit like Leib, but less gimmicks in the cooking. We ordered for example a tartar, an entrecote and a grilled chicken breast. The meats were so tender and fresh, that it almost beat the memory of the legendary Entrecote at Lydmar hotel in Stockholm (I will never forget that piece of meat). The wine list was not as generous as at Leib, although Umami also has some wines by the glass with the Coravin. The best part was perhaps their homemade schnapps: Limoncello and cherry and blackcurrant liquor. Really fantastic summer digestives, that work well instead of dessert.
In addition to the fantastic restaurants, we walked around the old town, ate celebrity chef baos from Baojaam and revisited the fantastic Portuguese wine bar, Wine Not? The bar has only wines from Portugal, and a lot from our favorite region Dao. Try also their homemade hummus. It was deeelicious.
That was all the time we had this summer. Now I am sitting on a boat cruising over the Baltic sea towards Helsinki. We will spend the coming two weeks there with my family and explore some of the great new restaurants in my birth town. So, watch out Helsinki, here we come!