Kristjan is a sommelier by training with an interest in matching food with beer, as well as wine. He started his career as a maître d’ at Pädaste Manor on the remote island of Muhu, worked in 5* hotels across Estonia and won a number of sommelier competitions before opening Leib in 2011 and Umami (pictured below) in 2014.
Leib focuses on local ingredients from small scale, mainly organic, farms while Umami is a little more playful with Asian influences and flavours. Both restaurants are a collaboration between chef and sommelier, with all wines by the glass and craft beers, that Kristjan and his team brew themselves, matched with food.
Here are Kristjan’s recommendations for 24 hours in Tallinn.
8am: Get your caffeine fix at Gourmet Coffee
The coffee beans here are bought from around the world, from small farmers, then roasted in Estonia. The team are all coffee nerds so you’re guaranteed an excellent coffee and a quick breakfast bite is a good idea too.
9am: Go shopping at Nõmme market
Stroll around the market where you can buy goods from local farmers, such as fresh fruit and vegetables, cheese and meat, as well see all the freshly-caught fish.
1pm: Lunch at Moon
Go for lunch at this family-run restaurant where they blend local flavours with a Russian touch. Chefs Roman and Igor were working in some of the best fine dining restaurants until they decided to go back to their roots and opened up this casual spot. Don’t miss the pelmeni (dumplings) or borsch (beetroot soup).
3pm: Visit Kalamaja
Walk off lunch with a stroll around this beautiful district. It has some interesting wooden houses, great bars and typical Estonian design shops.
7pm: Drink some Estonian craft beer
Estonian craft beers are thriving in Tallinn. At my restaurant Umami we brew our own beer but there are lots of other places to try a local brew – one of the best is Pudel baar at Telliskivi.
8pm: Dinner at Salt
Salt is a small, casual restaurant tucked away in Kadriorg but still within walking distance from the city centre. The 30-seater restaurant, with a menu that is constantly changing, serves food that is always super fresh and packed with flavour. There’s also a creative selection of wines, most of which are available by the glass. Look out for the friendly owner Tiina – she’s usually at the restaurant making sure everybody is happy.
11pm: Go bar hopping on Sauna Street
Jump in a cab, for ease and speed (taxis are pretty reasonable in Tallinn), and head for a mini bar tour of Sauna Street where a number of great bars sit next to another. In Sigmund Freud Bar you’ll find a creative barmen from St Petersburg who will make you a cocktail like nothing you’ve had before. Then there’s the stylish Frank Underground beside it and, a few meters away, you’ll find Sazerac, which is particularly fun when the owner, who used to work in NYC, is around. Afterwards seek out Whisper Sister – a speakeasy bar around the corner.
1am End the day on a high at Dissident Cocktails & Curiosity
While away the rest of the evening at this small speakeasy, a 10 minute taxi drive from the city centre, which is almost impossible to find but once you’re there you’ll see it’s worth it.When you get there (or if you get lost) call this number +372 5612 3705, so they know to open the door to you. You’ll be served by the owners who are really friendly guys with a great skill set. The Pisco sour is a must.