The first edition of the MICHELIN Guide Estonia features 31 restaurants – of these, two have been awarded a coveted MICHELIN Star, and five have been awarded a MICHELIN Bib Gourmand.
So, what is the MICHELIN Bib Gourmand award all about?
The MICHELIN Bib Gourmand may not be quite as well-known as the MICHELIN Star but it’s certainly a hit with our readers. Introduced into the MICHELIN Guide in 1997, it is named after Bibendum – aka the MICHELIN Man – and is awarded to restaurants offering great quality, great value cooking.
The MICHELIN inspectors are always on the lookout for new MICHELIN Stars but so too are they on the hunt for new Bib Gourmands.
There’s no set formula for a Bib Gourmand restaurant but what they do have in common is their simpler style of cooking, which is recognisable, easy-to-eat and often something you feel you could attempt to replicate at home. A Bib Gourmand restaurant also leaves you with a certain sense of satisfaction at having eaten so well at such a reasonable price.
Let’s further explore the restaurants highlighted by this great value award, which prove that good food doesn’t have to come with a hefty price tag.
Located on the north-western shore of Lake Viljandi is the historic town of Viljandi itself – a quaint, characterful place surrounded by forest – and, within a red-brick building on the edge of the Old Town, you’ll find this friendly café-cum-bistro. Inside there's a bohemian air thanks to a tiled bar, a mix of artwork and a relaxed vibe – and you’re always guaranteed a warm welcome. Choose from cakes, sandwiches or a concise range of traditional, European-influenced dishes where freshness and flavour lead the way. For dessert, be sure to try the tarte Tatin.
This sleek, buzzy brasserie has a faux-industrial feel courtesy of exposed stone walls, ducting on the ceiling, striking copper chandeliers and a semi open kitchen. The concise menu delivers a range of well-priced modern dishes with an emphasis on the chargrill. Steaks take centre stage, with the burger particularly popular at lunchtime; keep an eye out for their speciality – the 'Dirty Steak' – a rib-eye cooked directly on the charcoal. Service is on-the-ball and they are used to being busy, and in the summer months the courtyard terrace really comes into its own.
Lore Bistroo, Tallinn
Overlooking the modern harbour development of Port Noblessener, this modern bistro – the little sister of restaurant Lee – is sited within a cavernous warehouse that was formerly part of the Imperial Russian submarine shipyard. It has an industrial feel thanks to its original steel girders, hoists and concrete pillars, which blend well with the tiled floor and open kitchen. Assured, neatly presented dishes are inspired by the owners’ travels and are designed for sharing: some are cooked over wood, and all are tasty and satisfying. They cater for every member of the family here, with a children's menu and even ’baby purées’ for the very little ones. If you can’t decide what to order, go for the family-style ‘Lore Experience', which further adds to the lively, buzzy atmosphere.
Mantel ja Korsten, Tallinn
Tucked away in the neighbourhood district of Kadriorg, Mantel ja Korsten sits within a sweet, picture-postcard clapboard house, which is painted green and topped by a red roof. The inside, however, is a complete contrast to the traditional exterior, with its bright chairs, striking floral wallpaper, and a green-tiled fireplace and mantel taking centre stage. Carefully prepared, Mediterranean-inspired dishes have a modern edge and deliver an appealing clarity of flavour. The well-chosen wine list focuses on smaller boutique wineries and has an organic and biodynamic bias.
This striking, futuristic-looking building is set in a terrific coastal location 10 kilometres northeast of Tallinn, and offers far-reaching views over the bay and the Gulf of Finland. It’s located within the same building as NOA Chef’s Hall – continue straight on after the main doors and past the lobster tanks to the dining room. Colourful seating and modern tables blend seamlessly with contemporary rustic features, while floor-to-ceiling windows allow the light to flood in. Modern cooking echoes the seasons and offers plenty of choice, including some of the freshest fish you will eat in Tallinn. In summer, head for the delightful waterside terrace where, if you’re lucky, you’ll catch a great sunset.