The pretty but unexpected country that has one of the best cuisines in Europe

A pretty yet unexpected country has been praised as having one of Europe’s best cuisines. Estonia might not be the first destination on travellers’ wish lists but its native cuisine which is built up of fish, meat and vegetables has earned high praise.

Dishes in Estonia are also heavily influenced by German and Soviet heritage, with the country’s food constantly evolving.

The country has 34 restaurants in the Michelin Guide with one two-starred establishment in 180 Degrees, which is run by Matthias Diether and a one-star venue in Noa Chef’s Hall, run by Tonis Singur.

Another highly regarded restaurant is Lee Restoran, located in Tallinn’s old town, which aims to offer a modern take on traditional Estonian food.

The restaurant takes its name from the Estonian word ‘lee’ which refers to a fireplace where friends and family gather to enjoy food together.

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The restaurant uses local Estonian produce to craft a mix of native and international dishes.

The latest creations conjured up by chef Hiro Takeda include a seasonal asparagus tart, sashimi made with local trout, and a creative interpretation of a classic Estonian snack called ‘Kohuke’. 

Gwendal Poullennec, the international director of the Michelin Guides, has even praised the country’s food as Europe’s “hidden jewel”.

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He said in a statement: “The country offers a very appealing mix of restaurants and can boast plenty of skilled and ambitious chefs who are taking full advantage of the local produce.

“Now is a great time to visit if you want to take advantage of a varied and burgeoning gastronomic scene, whose quality is illustrated by the promotion of restaurant 180 Degrees by Matthias Diether to two Michelin stars.”

One of the staples of Estonian food is black bread, made from dark rye or wheat flour it is a staple of the majority of meals in the country with many pairing it with a native cheese.

Other Estonian delicacies include the verivorst blood sausage, smoked sprats and mannavaht, a mousse-like dessert made from semolina, milk and sugar.

And to wash down all the delicious food, Estonia has range of well-regarded local beers, with one particularly popular variety being the Baltic Porter, a dark, strong lager made with natural ingredients including malted barley.

Those wishing to fly out and try some of the dishes for themselves can book a return flight with Wizz from London to Tallinn for about £50 in January next year.

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