After a long time not visiting Romania, I was thrilled to see how the fine dining restaurants have developed. Previous trials have not been that great. After some studying, I found this place called Noua (“New”) with pretty good reviews and exactly what I wanted, local cuisine with local ingredients.
We were a large group (13 pax) and had reservation at 6pm on a Friday night (opens at 5pm). As expected, there were not too many customers yet. They have a terrace by entrance where they serve smaller terrace menu, but we were seated inside, where the only choice is the tasting menu (250 lei ~ 50€).
With the tasting menu they have wine pairing (160 lei) and quite extensive wine list. When asking for getting some bubbly for the start, they just presented the wine list without further recommendations even though I kind of hinted that we could have some advice. Well, anyway our choice was decent and we enjoyed it while admiring beautiful interior of the upstairs sitting area with the view to an open kitchen.
Soon after that started the first dish “Romania on a plate”. This is actually 7 different small bites, served one by one. The serving is part of the fun. First they bring you a wooden puzzle frame in the shape of Romania. Then come the dishes, each on a piece of the puzzle and of course the dish is something typical for that geographical area. After you have finished the puzzle, comes a surprise, one more piece. Yes, you guessed correct, Bessarabia. If you didn’t guess, google “Basarabia, pământ românesc”. This whole thing was in my opinion the tastiest and most interesting part of the whole menu.
There were several other dishes after this, some excellent (the two mains, golden gray mullet and the lamb!), some good, some ok tasting. All of the beautifully laid out, superb presentation but in some parts trying too much. Have to remember sometimes to keep it simple as well. All in all, I was really happy with the quality of the food. The wines did not really live up to the food. Some pairings were excellent and good wines, but some not that much.
Then comes the negative. Unfortunately the service was not what you would expect in a level of a place they obviously try to be. Don’t get me wrong, there were polite, explained the dishes well and so on but small details is what makes the whole experience. Few points, they did not ask what we’d like to drink with the food. They started serving the food with some people having nothing to drink. Also, the first forgot that we had ordered one vegetarian menu and served him meat as well. Also, after the mains, we had wait 45 minutes for the desserts. They did not apologize or explain anything before we asked after over 30 minutes of waiting. Maybe some round of drinks would have been nice while waiting, for those we had also ask if we could get some. I’d suggest that chef Alex Petricean would take his staff somewhere top notch place abroad to see what is service in a high quality restaurant. But again, I must stress that these were little things and we had great time. I’d highly recommend Noua to anyone visiting Bucharest.