Noma Sydney: Diners go to Extreme Lengths to Secure Spot at Sellout Pop-Up Restaurant

 by Elle Hunt, The Guardian, January 27, 2016

Noma Sydney

René Redzepi, the Danish chef and co-owner of the restaurant Noma, which has popped up in Sydney for 10 weeks. Tickets sold out within minutes of going on sale. Photograph: Fabian Bimmer/Reuters

A house is not a card everyone can play when it comes to scoring a reservation at one of the best restaurants in the world – but David Harris took an entrepreneurial approach to securing a spot at Noma Sydney.

The pop-up of Copenhagen’s renowned restaurant, in the new Barangaroo development west of the CBD, opened on Tuesday and runs until early April. Tickets for its entire 10-week run sold out within minutes of going on sale late last year.

Harris, the founder and chief executive of the Harris Farm Markets grocery chain, offered his home to Danish chef and co-owner René Redzepi and his family for the duration of their stay in Australia.

All he asked in exchange was for the chance to dine at Noma.

Redzepi is now living in the Harris’s waterfront property in Balmain with his wife, mother, mother-in-law and three children, who are enrolled in the local public school.

Harris said the arrangement came much to the shock of his wife, Catherine. “I’ve always found it’s better to go for forgiveness than permission, and I knew she’d never say yes,” he said.


Noma Sydney

Diners at Noma Sydney in the new Barangaroo development. Photograph: Lendlease

After several unsuccessful attempts to dine at the original Noma in Denmark, anticipation is high for the Harrises’ Tuesday reservation.

“Three or four months before I go to Copenhagen, I try to book the restaurant, and I’ve never even been able to get on the waitlist,” he said.

“That won’t be the case from now on, I think.”

Harris understood that Noma Sydney received 25,000 inquiries before it bookings even opened. “They knew it was going to be swamped

“I have so many friends who had four or five of their staff ready to pounce on their computer when the bookings opened and still missed out.”

Noma will serve about 5,500 meals in total in its time in Australia. One-quarter of the seats were set aside for international tourists under an initiative sponsored by Tourism Australia, Barangaroo developer Lend Lease and Singapore Airlines.

Punters who managed to secure a reservation will pay $485 per head, plus a further $195 each for the matched drinks.


A stew of chanterelle mushrooms and wild blackcurrants from Noma Sydney.

A stew of chanterelle mushrooms and wild blackcurrants from Noma Sydney. Photograph: @reneredzepinoma/Instagram

Redzepi, for his part, moved staff and their families – about 130 people – across the world to a site at the end of the Barangaroo wharf he built from scratch. The test kitchen contingent flew to Australia in mid-December with 400kg of luggage – 100kg for each of the four chefs.

Could it possibly be worth it?

Gourmet Traveller, one of the first to review the pop-up, makes no bones about it: “Yep, it’s good. In fact, it’s very, very good indeed...

“The Copenhagen fine-diner, frequently described as the world’s best restaurant, and unquestionably one of the culinary world’s great game-changers of the last decade, has come to Australia not to recast the hits from its menu back in Denmark in antipodean drag, but rather to dig deep into the ingredients and culture of Australia and come up with something new. And it has succeeded.”

“In all my years of reviewing restaurants, this the first ever 10 out of 10,” food writer Franz Scheurer told Good Food. “Absolutely stunning.”

The menu is said to be inspired by the flavours of Australia, described by Redzepi as “where the water meets the land ... lighting a fire, chucking something on it, that hint of smoke ... fresh, distinctive, with a lot of astringency … like a knife cutting through”.

Is there more perfect food than chilled sea food on ice #nomaaustralia

— Rene Redzepi (@ReneRedzepiNoma) January 25, 2016

Offerings include abalone schnitzel, shells topped with crocodile and chicken fat shards, native savoury berries in seaweed broth, and an “Australian fruit petit fours” that appears – from Instagram posts, at least – to defy consumption.

Guardian Australia is not able to comment, being too slow to secure a table.

But other outlets’ reports suggest the cost has been worth it.

Sydney resident Melissa Yusuf described the meal as “outstanding”.

Another diner, Chris Illias, said “the experience alone was worth it”.

“There’s certain things in life that you pay a lot of money for – be it a grand final or what have you – and everyone says ‘oh, that’s expensive’.”

He likened it to the $400 he paid for a ticket to the NRL grand final: “This is just as good. This will last forever.”


Wild blackberries in a broth of red currants and elderflower.

On the menu at Noma Sydney: wild blackberries in a broth of red currants and elderflower. Photograph: @reneredzepinoma/Instagram

A waiting list maintained for cancellations reportedly has 27,000 people on it.

One woman was offering to sell her reservation – lunch for two on 27 January – on Twitter on 15 January. It is not known how much she was asking for and whether she was successful.

Noma’s last service is dinner on Saturday 2 April, although it’s not available for bookings. “Something special” is planned, and it’s rumoured to be something that all of Sydney will be able to take part in.

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This article was written by ELLE HUNT from The Guardian and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.