Noeme opened in 2020, replacing with a new concept the successful bistro Guxt; the owners and team are the same, as far as the location in the former Jewish District of Bucharest. This is still a confidential address for the first-time visitor, yet a stone's throw from Piata Unirii and the major hotels concentrated all around. It took us a ten minutes walk, from The Mansion, our favorite boutique hotel in the Old Historic District, to reach the elegant turn of the last century building occupied by this classy restaurant.
A ladies' house, Noeme is managed by the three Diaconu sisters. Lacramioara, the charming hostess, Carmen, the executive chef, and Alice, the pastry chef. Guxt was a renowned bistro; the next step consisted in upgrading the design and cuisine to something more inventive. So if you want to enjoy sappy, though a bit basic Romanian specialties, like stuffed cabbage or minced meat grill sausages, there are plenty of places for that. Skip Noeme, which is more a place for discovering new tastes. Carmen was nominated in 2019 by Gault et Millau, in the category “Woman Chef of the Year”: we could therefore write that she is more in “Nouvelle Cuisine”, with a Romanian touch. No foreign wine is served, for instance: the guest is initiated by Lacramioara to the most achieved local wines, which are plentiful now. Often produced with the coaching of French oenologists. Most of the ingredients are purchased from organic farms located not far from Bucharest. That's why the “à la carte” and set menus are updated every three weeks. Carmen works like an alchemist: always searching for the Philosopher's Stone. Her permanent experimentations produces unforgettable dinners, like the one which we enjoyed a few weeks ago.
The first question was: should we sit in the inviting terrasse, or in the awesome parqueted dining room, with a high ceiling, contemporary furniture, and elegant curtains? Wood panels lovingly carved by handicraft-men, and a collection of paintings balance the bourgeois design with a bohemian touch. The place does impress enough to feel like in a chic restaurant, with a cool ambiance. There are few like that in Bucharest.
Just like in more and more gastronomic venues, there is no tablecloth. The ceramic crockery is neutral: emphasizing the elegant display of the dishes on the plate. The evening of our visit, the offer was limited to three appetizers, six main dishes, and three desserts. Carmen's cuisine is focussing on super fresh ingredients, and a collection of reduced sauces which are sometimes surprising. That's why the menu can't be extended to dozens of offers. The idea is good. We just regret that there was no wine pairing menu: this would help the foreign gourmet a lot, as the local vineyards are still confidential. Did you ever purchase a bottle of Romanian wine in your country? If you did, that was certainly a low-quality “Murfatlar” from an industrial winery. The selection at Noeme pays respect to the best producers from the most prestigious vineyards.
“Carassia, Blanc de Blancs, Brut”, from Transylvania, with fresh and delicately fruity, floral and biscuity notes, nicely paired the signature “Entrée”: “Pan-seared Shrimp, Peach, grilled Mango Ice-cream, Shrimp Bisque, Cornbread, Lemon Basil infused Oil”. This might look a bit odd at first sight, but was ideally balanced on the palate.
More classic, still quite acrobatic: “Choux with Kneaded Sheep Cheese and Beer Malt, Hazelnuts, Beer Zabaglione and Fluid Gel, Parmiggiano Chips, and Salted Caramel” was a melody of textures and tastes. That's one of Carmen's signatures. It could be paired with beer (the chef likes it, and there is a good offer of Romanian beers), though we preferred to keep on with our glass of “Carassia”.
“Pan-seared Duck Breast, caramelized White Miso Butterscotch, Coconut Milk Mochi Cake, and Duck Jus” is another signature. A solid main dish (350 gr), it features a refined gallery of Carmen's most secret “réductions”, and refers a lot to the art of sauces by Escoffier. We paired it with “Hyperion, Feteasca Neagra, DOC Dealul Mare, Halewood”: one of the preferred red wines in Romania, it shows a little spicy, vanilla oak that is rather prominent, but adds a mellow quality to quite a long finish.
“Apricot Tart, Blue Cheese Marshmallow, Basil Buttercream”, visually attractive and yummy, was the most imaginative pastry which got in a country still focusing on heavy cakes, like “Joffre” or “Dobos”. Another glass of well-chilled “Carassia” was a perfect pairing.
The experience was instructive, so gourmand, and the value for money attractive. This is wonderful, coming from Paris, London, or New York, to see that EUR 50 is enough for such a dinner (excluding wine, which is also most affordable at Noeme)!
NOEME: Anton Pann, 29, Sector 3, 030796 Bucharest
PHONE: +40 0721 490270