Dining Out 3 minutes 01 August 2022

MICHELIN Green Star Restaurants in Estonia

Two restaurants receive a MICHELIN Green Star for their commitment to sustainability in the inaugural MICHELIN Guide Estonia 2022

Estonia 2022 Green Star

The first edition of the MICHELIN Guide Estonia features 31 restaurants – of these, two have been awarded a coveted MICHELIN Star, five have been awarded a MICHELIN Bib Gourmand, and two have received a MICHELIN Green Star.

The most recent distinction added to the MICHELIN Guides, the Green Star was first revealed in 2020 and introduced into several of the 2021 editions of the MICHELIN Guide across the world.

It is an annual award which highlights restaurants at the forefront of the industry when it comes to their sustainable practices. They hold themselves accountable for both their ethical and environmental standards, and work with sustainable producers and suppliers to avoid waste and reduce or even remove plastic and other non-recyclable materials from their supply chain.

These restaurants offer dining experiences that combine culinary excellence with outstanding eco-friendly commitments and are a source of inspiration both for keen foodies and the hospitality industry as a whole.

Every Green Star restaurant is different and works in its own unique way – but all make a difference to the world around them and act as role models to us all. Many work directly with growers, farmers and fishermen; forage in hedgerows and woodlands; grow plants and rear animals; and use regenerative methods such as no-dig vegetable gardens and successional cover crop growing. They also often go beyond environmental considerations to address issues related to ethics, as well as contributing to local, national or global charitable and educational projects.

Any restaurant in the MICHELIN Guide is eligible and there is no specific formula or set of criteria, as every restaurant and its surrounding region has a unique set of conditions. The Inspectors are simply looking for those at the top of their game when it comes to their sustainable practices. They simply consider things such as: the provenance of the ingredients; the use of seasonal produce; the restaurant’s environmental footprint; food waste systems; general waste disposal and recycling; resource management; and the communication between the team and the guests about the restaurant’s sustainable approach.

Let's take a look at what Estonia's first two MICHELIN Green Star restaurants have been getting up to.

Fotografiska, Tallinn
Fotografiska, Tallinn

Fotografiska, Tallinn

Located on the top floor of the fine art photography centre Fotografiska Tallinn, within a converted former factory, is this modern restaurant with picture-postcard views out over the Old Town. The view might be the first thing to grab your attention, but your gaze will soon be drawn back to the open kitchen running the length of the room.

A concept of ‘Sustainable Pleasure’ leads the way here, with enjoyment always kept to the fore but achieved while following a ‘leaf to root, nose to tail’ ethos and a zero-waste approach. As such, the selection of assured Nordic dishes is concise, using only what's in season and making use of every part of the ingredient. They also offer a 4 course surprise menu showcasing the very latest local produce available.

50% of the dishes on the menu are plant-based and all use top ingredients – 80% of which are local, while also being organic and sustainably grown or raised by small artisan producers who share the same values. Honey is produced in hives on their rooftop and their philosophy ensures that nothing is wasted, with leftover leaven bread used to make flour for the next batch, and mixologists making syrups from freshly pressed juices or, for example, when cleaning a pumpkin.

They don't serve bottled water and you won't find any clingfilm, plastic bags or tin foil in the kitchen. Both power and water usage are carefully monitored, and any excess bio-waste that can't be utilised in dishes or drinks is turned into compost overnight.

Their team has been trained to see their actions not only as a philosophy but also as a way of life, and they are also dedicated to ensuring that diners fully understand their approach. Yet, despite having put all these initiatives in place, the owners still see the restaurant as only at the beginning of its journey, and continue to adapt and update their everyday practices, striving for excellence when it comes to sustainability.

Põhjaka Manor, Mäeküla - Flowers for the Tables
Põhjaka Manor, Mäeküla - Flowers for the Tables

Põhjaka Manor, Mäeküla

88 kilometres southeast of Tallinn, midway between the capital and Tartu, sits this unassuming-looking, early 19C manor house surrounded by beautiful wooded countryside. Inside, it comprises three rooms which exude a vintage-cum-shabby-chic style, courtesy of distressed plaster walls, stripped wooden floors and mismatched wooden furnishings. Born from an abandoned house and set in a remote location, it was always the team's goal to create a self-sufficient environment here to share with their guests.

The daily changing, hyper-seasonal menus showcase the latest herbs, vegetables and produce from their garden, as well as from local foraging expeditions, and they also rear their own chickens and sheep on-site. The flowers which decorate the tables are grown in their garden too. Over the years, they have also developed their own spirits (an idea which started with an experimental sea buckthorn drink in the restaurant), which they produce at their own distillery 15 kilometres away.

When it comes to the cooking, dishes are simple, rustic and generously proportioned – allowing the natural flavours of the ingredients to shine through. Any surplus produce is pickled or preserved for future use to minimise wastage and allow the use of certain ingredients throughout the year. Alongside more traditional cooking equipment you'll find a wood-fired stove and an open hearth, and fish and meat are smoked in-house.

Non-edible food waste is composted and used in the gardens or fed to the chickens, who provide a steady supply of fresh eggs.

Põhjaka Manor, Mäeküla
Põhjaka Manor, Mäeküla

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