This Nordic Culinary Journey Is More Realistic Than You Can Imagine

Björn Frantzén is the second chef to bring his acclaimed creative cuisine to the Enigma experience at The Palazzo Versace in Dubai. Following the 'Untold Story' we experienced with Quique Dacosta, the latest installment is another four months with a completely different menu, we now are invited to embark on a culinary journey of Nordic cuisine. Enigma is subtly designed to allow us to enter Sweden without leaving Dubai. 

Nordic cuisine is known for using raw ingredients as they are found in nature. It burst onto the scene with the popularity of Noma, a two Michelin star restaurant concept by Rene Redzepi opened in Copenhagen in 2003. For those new to Nordic cuisine, the current menu on offer at Enigma is a perfect introduction in every way. 

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Enigma is transformed with low-rock music, earthy shrubs, subtle lighting to create an atmosphere that immediately puts you an ease for the epic culinary journey ahead

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The team take you through each step of the Journey Of A Nordic Chef

The 'journey' of Nordic cuisine, stems from Bjorn Frantzen's first Swedish restaurant in 2008. He went on to be awarded two Michelin stars (Frantzen was listed in the top 50 restaurants in the world), and set up the Franzten group. The meal is like a culinary lesson; the waiters attentively explain the origin of each dish and the ingredients, particularly those that may be unfamiliar to those who aren't acquainted with Nordic cuisine. It is well they are so patient to take the time to go through each dish, for 57 consecutive nights. Here are the 12 courses that await you. 

1. Apple & lingonberry macaron with foie gras & chervil

The meal starts and finishes with a macaron symbolically, some say this represents the two Michelin stars. It's unusual to start and end a meal with a similar dish, however, on this occasion it has the effect of making the journey appear complete, but there is so much to come. 

2. Tomato water "Golden Tea" served with carrot sphere, lemon verbena & grain mustard

The acidic sweetness of the lingonberry followed by the lingering tomato taste blended effortlessly and primed our pallets for what was to come. We were beginning to realize that this was all about experiencing the flavors and ingredients in their original form. 

3. Oyster "63.3c" with granita of sea buckthorn, juniper cream & sprouted walnut

The cream, nuts and herbs really make this Oyster taste special. Three perfect opening dishes full of flavour. At this point, my guest and I opted for a glass of Chablis recommended by our French sommelier. The light course blended with a serious conversation my guest and I were having. 

4. White moss "sushi" with deer, frozen bird's liver, burnt hay & chantarelles

This dish reminded us of the 'forest' dish of Enigma's first chef and it would not have been out of place in 'Untold Story'. Yet it also added to the four seasons on display this evening and continued the experience, as each dish became more wholesome. 

5. Poached king crab served with wild trout roe & emulsion of brown crab meat

The Head Chef Jim Löfdhal came out at this point to explain that dill was a popular flavouring for seafood in Sweden. Our conversation now drifted to past and fond memories. 

6. Scallop in its own shell served with dried roe, fir tree, finger lime & "dashi"

This meal is full of dishes that concentrate on one piece, which is cooked to perfections with an addition of subtle Nordic flavours. Our conversation reached a crescendo at this point. 

7. Swedish "knäckebröd" served with homemade butter

Like every other course on the menu, this was an unexpected dish at this point. And also, as with every dish, a new learning; we both had no idea that this type of bread was such a staple part of a Swedish kitchen. A timely mid-meal interval. 

8. Slow-baked cod "38c" served with Swedish vendace roe from Kalix, beurre blanc flavored with preserved anchovy juice, dill & young onions

The fish melted in my mouth. The vengeance row added to the fishy flavor accompanied now with the familiar dill on top. 

9. "Hot-pot" - lamb served with cabbage, roasted cauliflower bouillon truffles

This was the largest course, and at course number nine, we were just about full, however this one was worth it. The earthy cabbage added to the perfectly cooked lamb. This dish brings the entire meal home and dry. 

10. Sticky beetroot served with blackberries, frozen lingonberries, 100-year-old vinegar & liquorice mousse

And now to the first of three sweets to finish. The beetroot was cooked at such a temperature that all the sweetness was removed, and replaced by the intense licorice. Divine. We were aware, sadly, that the journey was nearing an end. 

11. Smoked ice cream, roasted nuts, tar syrup & salted fudge with cloves

This is the dish that looks good. But it also tasted great. It's hard to explain all the textures involved. This dish was certainly one of the most memorable parts of the culinary journey.

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12. Cloudberry & thyme macaron with wild berries

Concluding, as the meal began, with a macaron. This cloudberry comes from Lapland and can survive temperatures of -40 degrees. Here, in 40 degree plus Dubai, it survived just fine as well. 

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The verdict of Enigma, Chapter Two

This concept continues to delight. This installment, is not only a continuation, but something new; an inner look into Nordic cuisine, where every one of the twelve dishes has a featured ingredient that is common place in Scandinavian cooking. 

A wonderful aspect of the Enigma concept, is that it allows diners to feel like they are part of their journey, and also allows diners to reflect on their own personal journeys together. 

Can I still go and how much does it cost?

Catch it while you can. 'A Journey Of A Nordic Chef' runs until June 30th, continuing throughout Ramadan. There is a choice of 8 or 12 dishes. We recommend going for the 12 but you should certainly arrive hungry! It costs 750 AED during the week and 850 AED on the weekend for 12 courses. 

Full Story (12 dishes)

Half Story (8 dishes)

AED 650 early bird* 

AED 450 early bird

AED 750 weekday 

AED 550 weekday 

AED 850 weekend

AED 650 weekend 

Written By

Richard Fitzgerald

Rich is a media fiend who hasn't been seen without an iPhone in hand since 2007. With a passion for all things health and fitness, what he lacks in hair he more than makes up for in creativity. As the founder of Lovin Dubai, he's our fearless leader.