Bob W. will try anything once. He’s drunk yak butter tea in the Himalayas and eaten durian in Thailand. Although Tallinn is one of Bob’s rather tame stomping grounds by comparison, he’s got a soft spot for this Baltic capital. The Telliskivi district is the centre of everything offbeat in Tallinn. In preparation for his next stint in town, Bob asked two of his local friends (Helen and I) to scope out the latest and greatest culinary experiments here for him. While we were at it, we decided to share this list with you.
This goes out to the adventurous eaters in search of the weird and wonderful that Telliskivi has to offer. For the flavour bloodhounds who want to sniff out something epic. We hope you’re hungry!
1. Cashew nut butter and white miso pasta with coconut “bacon” at Ülo
A vegetarian and a carnivore walk into a restaurant. One of them exclaims, “Well, at least they have a few options for me.” At Ülo, this is actually the meat-eater for once. This restaurant has something for everyone, vegetarians, vegans and carnivores alike. Their menu flips the normal proportion on its head though, offering about 80% vegetarian options and 20% meat dishes.
Vegetarians don’t have to feel like they’re missing out at Ülo with their cashew nut butter with white miso pasta topped with coconut “bacon”. This comfort food pasta is a savoury, nutty dream with fresh greens, slow cooked tomatoes, and the star of the show sprinkled on top – crunchy, caramelised coconut strips with that hallmark smokiness of bacon. Would it fool you? No. Are we mad at it? Also no.
2. Kimchi shots at Burger Box
There are two kinds of people who order a kimchi shot at Burger Box. The first are people who know it, and the second are people who discover it and go “WTF I’ve gotta try this”. Burger Box is a hole in the wall eatery next to the Balti Jaam Market with chipboard walls and an arcade game in the corner. It is a good sign that Burger Box actually has kimchi on the menu in the form of kimchi fries. I would be a little concerned otherwise about how they put the kimchi in the kimchi shot.
It’s three o’clock on a Friday afternoon, and the bartender doesn’t bat an eyelash as she prepares us two shots. She skilfully mixes a laundry list of ingredients, of which I could see kimchi juice, gin (to my alarm), and tabasco sauce (to my delight). Waiting in a shot glass is what looks like chicken wing sauce and tastes like fire going down, but damn it, I’d do it all over again next Friday. We can confidently recommend.
3. Rhubarb, gooseberry and white currant sparkling wines at Nudist Winery
There’s something magical in these sparkling wines, and it ain’t grapes. In fact, when visiting with a friend for the first time who asked “So, do you have red wine?”, the bartender replied, “Well… not really, but we have one made from raspberries!” What kind of winery doesn’t have red wine? A new-age winery shaking up the game, that’s who.
Gooseberry, white currant, raspberry, rhubarb are locally available ingredients in Estonia, unlike grapes, which will grow, but tend to have a hard time becoming sweet. Each Nudist wine has its own persona and character. “Принцесса” (“Princessa”) gooseberry sparkling wine became my new favourite with a fruity and slightly tart sass. “Berry White” white currant sparkling wine tastes fresh and delicate like a spring day. “Rabarbra” rhubarb sparkling wine is a bestseller, while “Diana” raspberry sparkling wine is for those who like it sweet.
They also make a variety of beers, ciders, strong alcohols and canned “Intoku”, which the bartender explains are like “sparkling waters for adults”. They’re like a slightly sweet iced tea with cannabis extract that’s positioned as the “opposite of coffee, energy drinks and alcohol” to help you unwind.
4. Beer ice cream at La Muu
Estonia’s first and best-known organic ice cream producer La Muu has a flagship store and ice cream shop in Telliskivi. Here, you can order their staples by the scoop like vegan chocolate brownie, sea salt caramel, condensed milk, and raspberry prosecco sorbet. You’ll also find a rotating selection of novelty flavours like matcha green tea, Japanese quince, and even a beer ice cream made with Valmiermuiža, a popular beer from Latvia.
The Valmiermuiža ice cream has the caramel colour and taste of the namesake amber lager from which it’s made. It’s malty, buttery and rich with a slightly bitter aftertaste to remind you that there is, indeed, an alcoholic beverage inside. There’s no telling which flavours La Muu will have when you walk in the door, which gives you yet another reason to come back again and again.
5. Pretty much everything at Fotografiska’s rooftop restaurant
Fotografiska is Telliskivi’s new photography centre with exhibitions, events, a cafe, and the rooftop bar and restaurant with near 360-degree views of the neighbourhood, Old Town and beyond. The restaurant has a zero-waste philosophy and is inspired by Nordic seasons and natural preservation methods. They avoid plastic use in their kitchen, grow mushrooms on used coffee grounds and compost their food scraps.
Each drink in their cocktail menu is a signature creation of one of the bartenders, and Carrot Cake is Mart’s. His idea was to recreate the dessert in liquid form from things you’d find in an Estonian granny’s backyard. It’s got a dollop of yogurt and sour cream foam that’s been infused in a smoke gun for an hour. Beneath that is a tangy, orange beverage with calvados, aquavit, rhubarb-vanilla cordial, strawberry and carrot. Half appetiser, half cocktail, 100% good.
Then the real starters arrive. Smoked beetroot in an unexpected spicy curry sauce bursting with freshness and bright colours. There’s also the “Mushroom & mushroom” with a variety of fungi prepared in different ways, hiding a creamy duck egg yolk beneath.
The main (and the main reason I came) is the “Onion tarte tatin”, starring a “compost baked onion”. As I wait, I’m imagining some petrified onion, but what I get is an organic South Estonian onion baked in the oven under a heap of compost made from the restaurant’s food scraps. This gentle baking process insulates the onion, softening it the perfect amount while retaining some of its crunch.
To round off the meal, dessert is a buckwheat brownie that’s equal parts naughty and nice. Buckwheat, touted as a superfood, is usually served as a side dish elsewhere in Tallinn, but it lends a tasty bit of earthiness to this chocolatey brownie. It’s served with vermouth ice cream and an aquafaba meringue on top complete with a tiny mallet to smash it. The menu at Fotografiska is constantly changing with the seasons and availability of local ingredients, so keep your eyes peeled for their latest creations.
Plan your own feeding frenzy
So, ready to come try these foods and drinks for yourself? Though it can be done in a day, we recommend staying a while and seeing everything Telliskivi has to offer. If you like your accommodation as distinctive as your dishes, check out Bob W.’s locally designed suites in Telliskivi. They’re just across the street from Fotografiska. For the best rates and perks you won’t get anywhere else, book directly on bobw.co.