Thursday, August 8, 2013

Tallinn's good eats

A few cities around Europe have maps made by locals which include tips, to do's, to see's and to eat. The eat portion being my favorite, since there are so many tourist restaurants around, I need local help weeding out the bad from the good.  Thankfully, Tallinn locals created one such map... which made my trip a foodie euphoria.

The first map recommended restaurant I went to is located at the gothic town hall. Ill Draakon is situated in a dark little passageway holed out of the building medieval building. The must eats are their 1 Euro meat or vegetable filled pastries or their 2 Euro elk meat stew and all you can eat large pickles fished out of a barrel. There are no utensils - the stew is slurped, just like in days of old.
Ill Draakon

For breakfast I checked out Kompressor - the seller of enormous pancakes. Locals advised to go on an empty stomach and don't expect to be hungry for the rest of the day. The locals were right.

blueberry ricotta pancake
Then the map led me outside of the old city walls... where the freshest and healthiest of meals were made. Plus, each had free water and homemade bread refills.

First is Sesoon. It's a brand new restaurant, that is an adventure in and of itself to find. But the giant restaurant was filled with patrons ready for organic foods at their best. I was so enamored, I walked away without taking a photographic souvenir.

But my favorite would have to be Bistroo Kukeke, not only for its amazing food, but it's retro location. The name isn't written properly on the building, which is an old railway depot from the 1800's. Instead, the name, Kukeke, is represented with a design of what it means in Estonian: rooster.

deliciously fresh salad and pumpkin pastry
In search for the Kukeke, I found my favorite area in Tallinn full of abandon warehouses, old water tower, and condemned buildings. In one condemned building, rock music came pouring out of a broken window a couple stories high. I walked closer to hear the band practice.  A smarter me would have left it at that. But I was intrigued, and the front door to the building was opened. The walls of the stairwell was graffitied, the box tiled windows were dirty and broken here and there. The further I went up the stairs, the louder the music became. I arrived at the floor the band was playing the same moment a man in a wife-beater and boxer shorts descended the stairs from a floor above with a toothbrush in his hands. After I mumbled an excuse for being there, he expressed his distaste for the band, since he was living on the floor above and then said I could go check them out if I wanted.

area Kukeke is located in
I walked onto a large floor with a few sofas scattered around, a platform stage in one corner, and beer bottles strewn about. The walls were covered in graffiti. Behind another door, the band played. They played with passion, and I felt uneasy about interrupting. So it was then, when I was a mere 5 feet away, that cowardice overtook me and left without them ever knowing I was a groupie.

behind door number one, is the band I never met