Right in the heart of Tallinn’s medieval old town is Olde Hansa a candle lit restaurant with a minstrel’s gallery and bear on the menu.
We’d eaten here on our last visit to Tallinn and enjoyed the food very much, so we’d already made a reservation before leaving the UK. The three floors of the restaurant have been fitted out with period look dark wood furniture, while the walls have been decorated with medieval maps and coats of arms. All the waiting staff wear medieval costume and most of the lighting is by candle, so the little torch concealed in Mab’s handbag came in handy for a bunch of 50 somethings trying to read the menu.
Honey ale was ordered and we ruminated over the menu with some dried elk while the band struck up a medieval tune.
I started with the Hansa Herring, which came with spelt bread, cream cheese, salad leaves and berry. It was very tasty. Then most of us had the the Himalayan lamb, a sort of curry of lamb with some eastern spice. This was served with a spelt porridge, lentils, turnip, pickled vegetables and a bean bag. The bean bag is a small pasty filled with bean puree and thankfully the pastry has got quite a lot lighter since our previous visit in 2008, when you could have built a wall with it!. My lamb was deliciously tender, it must have been stewing for ages and the pickled garlic was delighfully crunchy.
Having polished off our second courses we were all too stuffed for any dessert!
While a lot of places offer what they call medieval feasts, the proprietor of Olde Hansa has really done his homework to create an authentic medieval menu, as would have been enjoyed by the Hanseatic merchants of old Tallinn. You will not find later additions to European cuisine like potatoes or tomatoes in any of the dishes. Wild boar is one of the most popular meats, but you can, should you wish, also sample bear. However the bear is quite expensive, unless you make do with the boar, bear and elk sausages (also very tasty) that I tried on our second visit.
Complete with quite a lot of beer the bill came to a bout €130 for four people.
My top traveller tip for Old Hansa is watch out for complimentary drinks vouchers in the English language shopping guides that you find in hotel lobby areas.