Two years ago, while having Nordic salad (smoked salmon on shredded lettuce) at a outdoor café table on the Town Square, we were amazed to see restaurants advertising Mexican, Chinese, Thai, and Irish food; on our walk into the square we had passed a sushi bar. This, we told ourselves, proved
So, the other day, when we spotted a shop with window boxes in the forms of elongated pigs, we concluded that this was a restaurant with a lot of pork on the menu. The shutters advertised “Estonian Restaurant.” Now that made me pause. We’ve spotted another restaurant, too, outside of
On the Little Piggy Inn menu, the Head Chef (Peakokk) recommends “Crisp Pork Knuckle with Sauerkraut, Baked Potatoes and Mustard.” Aarne was thrilled to find smoked Baltic herring, and I tried a potato porridge and salad of shredded lettuce and sweet peppers. To read the entire menu, visit www.notsu.ee.
The interior of Little Piggy is charming with colorful hand-woven wool table runners, hanging light fixtures made of wagon wheels and overturned baskets, and best of all, proverbs painted onto the walls. While waiting for our porridge, we pondered a quotation across the room: “A mouse never runs into a sleeping cat’s mouth.” All of this adds up to what a reviewer on Tallinn-Life.com called “nouveau rustic.”
The next day in the April 2008 City Paper I found this review of Little Piggy Inn: “Whether or not this is exactly what old Estonian inns looked like may be open to question. But in sheer comfort, good cheer and fine food, one would like to believe they were just like The Little Piggy Inn.”
A few evenings ago, when I described to a young Estonian friend our experiences at Little Piggy, he laughed and replied, “But there IS no Estonian cuisine.”
Among older ex-pats like Aarne, however, I hear a shared telling of a different story. It goes like this: one person says something like “klimbi soup,” and the other ex-pats groan in pleasure, their eyes misting over. “Frikadilli” evokes especially happy reactions, as does “pirukas” and kompott.” [Klimbi is a dumpling soup; frikadilli soup is meatballs in broth; pirukas is pastry filled with carrots or cabbage or meat; kompott is cold fruit soup such as gooseberry, currant, or pear.]
At least in memory, then, Estonian cuisine survives, and Little Piggy is one place to test these memories.