Dining Out 4 minutes 21 March 2024

Estonia's First Two Michelin Star Restaurant

180° by Matthias Diether leads the way not just in Estonia, but also in the Baltic culinary scene

One of only two restaurants awarded One Michelin Star in the inaugural edition of The MICHELIN Guide Estonia, 180° by Matthias Diether, in Tallinn, once again raised the bar for the Estonian culinary scene by gaining Two Michelin Stars in the second edition – at the same making history by becoming not only Estonia’s, but also the Baltic region’s, first ever Two Michelin Star restaurant. Let's take a closer look at this unique and groundbreaking place.


The Chef

Matthias Diether was born in Berlin and brought up in the south of Germany, and his journey into the hospitality world began when he worked at his uncle’s restaurant at weekends and during school holidays. After training with some top German chefs, he set out alone in 2010 and opened his own restaurant ‘First Floor’ in Berlin. Fast forward a few years and, having had enough of the pressures of a big city, he decided to move somewhere where the pace was a little more sedate – and since January 2016, it has been Estonia that he has called his home.

Muhu Island was his first port of call, where he spent 2 years working at Pädaste Manor; it was always his goal to open his own restaurant once again though, so he moved to the edge of this somewhat smaller capital city to make his culinary dreams a reality once more. Here, Matthias not only takes on the role of Chef-Owner but also the position of a mentor, guiding his kitchen team and continually developing their talents.

The Area

Located next to the Seaplane Harbour, just outside the city, Port Noblessner was once an imperial Russian shipyard, but you’d never know that today. Some characterful industrial buildings remain, alluding to the area’s history, but a chic regeneration means that this seafront quarter has been transformed into one of Tallinn’s most beautiful districts. It sits just a short walk from the Old Town and Kalamaja, and is a bustling place filled with restaurants, art galleries and the Iglupark, where you can enjoy saunas and a swim with sea views.

The Restaurant

Matthias chose this harbourside spot to set up his new restaurant because he loved the seamless integration of the old and new architecture. He was there from the outset, as the first new apartment buildings were being developed and opening up, and his restaurant fits the surroundings like a glove, thanks to its sleek looks, contemporary cooking and modern style of hospitality.

Modernity certainly does lead the way here, from the colourfully contrasting materials and shapes of the warehouse-style façade to the chic, stylish interior. The lounge-bar with its appealingly futuristic theme is the perfect place to start your evening, before moving on into the stunning main room where you'll find a striking open kitchen. A seat at the counter is a must for the most-serious foodies, as you'll get a great close-up of the team at work and really feel part of the experience, but this is rivalled by the well-spaced tables spread about the large, luxurious room, which afford wonderful views out over the sea.

The Menu

The menu takes on a tasting format, offering the choice of 4 or 6 courses plus snacks – as well as an optional cheese course from Bernard Antony – and a vegetarian version is also available with 24 hours’ notice.

Matthias believes that everything starts with great ingredients and he continually spends time searching for the very best produce available, be that from the local area, around the country or across the world. While he uses innovative techniques to craft perfectly detailed, visually appealing masterpieces, he also keeps in mind his cuisine's classical French roots, seeing his dishes as a real celebration of flavour. Many elements make up each intricate construction, but all marry together in perfect harmony, captivating each diner and leaving them eager for what's next to come. His sauces in particular are sublime and sophistication is at every turn, as he elevates the ordinary to the extraordinary.

Some of the dishes the Michelin Inspectors enjoyed most over the past year were:
Atlantic Mackerel – Nettles – Quince
Mont D'Or Cheese – Potato – Marinated Iberico Pork Belly
Ikejime Hamachi – Yuzu – N25 Caviar
Atlantic Sea Bass – Beans – Chorizo
Burnt Banana – Miso – Tarragon

The Service

The service runs like clockwork – thanks in part to the perfectly pitched menu, but mainly due to the bright and welcoming staff who make the evening run like a dream. The experience starts with an explanation of the menu and how the night will unfold – accompanied by an aperitif and canapes, of course – and the attentive team will guide you through with a detailed description of each dish as it arrives. The buzz from the chefs in the kitchen brings an extra dimension to proceedings and adds to the enjoyable all-round ambiance.

The Drinks

When it comes to the drinks, there are plenty of options to suit all tastes and budgets, thanks to a mocktail pairing, a wine pairing and also a premium wine pairing option. The genuinely warm and welcoming sommelier provides some great advice, complementing the service team's efforts perfectly.

The Stars

What was your initial reaction and how did you celebrate?
"I had to take some minutes to myself to think of what had just happened and then, of course, I called my team and went to the restaurant to be with them and celebrate with some champagne. We were fully booked the same evening though, so there was no chance to go too crazy."

How does it feel to be not only Estonia’s first, but also the Baltic countries’ first Two Star restaurant?
"It's a very big honour to have made history and to be the top of not just one country but a whole region. We didn't think about this at first, the understanding only came later on."

What effect has the second Star had on your business?
"Internationally it opened the doors for 180° – we got congratulations from all around the world."

Who are your guests? Has your clientele changed over the years as a result of the Stars?
"On one side we have locals who are looking to create a very special moment in their lives, and on the other side we have more and more international guests and experienced foodies who can compare us with the best restaurants in the world."

The Future

What advice would you give to young chefs starting out on their culinary journey in Estonia?
"To learn by doing. They need to give themselves time to learn about ingredients, techniques, leadership skills, how to gain respect and how to react in stressful situations, and they need time to develop their own style and signature dishes, etc. This is missing in young people and that is also normal. You cannot lead a team at age 22 straight from studying and you shouldn’t put pressure on yourself to be a Head Chef at such a young age. A good chef is like a fine wine that needs time to develop. You need to learn from the best in the world and come up step by step. I can say that, even at my age, I have matured at 180°."

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Photo Credits: Chef Matthias Diether by Lauri Laan / Port Noblessner by Kaupo Kalda

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