The recent release of "The Menu" on HBO has everyone talking about whether it was based on a real restaurant. The creators of the film never confirmed or even hinted at this idea, but a TikToker shared her experience at a prestigious restaurant called Noma, whose doors just closed. People can't help but think that "The Menu" was based on her dining experience.
It may sound like a silly premise, but The Menu on HBO is a dark comedy-thriller that has a lot of people talking. The film starts off with a group of people taking a boat to a secluded island, where they have paid $1,250 a head to eat a luxurious meal with one of the world's most renowned chefs, Chef Slowik, played by Ralph Fiennes. Anya-Taylor Joy plays the protagonist Margot, who accompanies Tyler (Nicholas Hoult) as his date. However, as they're entering the island, she discovered that she was not the original guest on the list. Tyler was meant to take someone else, but she backed out at the last minute, leaving Margot as the person who takes her place. In the first couple courses, it becomes clear that there are some weird things happening on this island, and Chef Slowik takes a unique interest in Margot because she clearly isn't the person who was meant to dine with them.
The evening turns particularly sour when (spoiler alert!) the staff restrains one of the guests, a man who is visiting the island for the 11th time with his wife, and chops off his left ring finger, presumably as the price to pay for being unfaithful. From then on, the night delves into chaos. As the audience is trying to figure out what is going on and why Chef Slowik displays some psychopathic behavior, the guests are served multiple courses of an extravagant meal—except it's not so extravagant. At one point, they are given a breadless bread plate. The only things present on the plate are dipping sauces, but they are meant to be tasted without the bread.
'The Menu' May Have Been Based on a Prestigious Restaurant Called Noma, and a TikToker Shares Details of Her Visit in 2018
A TikToker named @mrsmedeiros shared a 3-minute video detailing her experience at a prestigious restaurant called Noma. The New York Times just reported that Noma, which is apparently "rated the world's best restaurant" had to close its doors. "The Copenhagen chef René Redzepi says fine dining at the highest level, with its grueling hours and intense workplace culture, has hit a breaking point," the subhead reads. People can't help but point out that it closed shortly after The Menu aired on HBO, especially after they saw the similarities between the film and @mrsmedeiros' dining experience at Noma.
In 2018, @mrsmedeiros dined at Noma, which has three Michelin stars, explaining how she got a spot at the world's top restaurant. "The answer is super easy: get on a waitlist. We came in not knowing anybody but when you're sitting at a table for 4 hours eating organ meat with people you get to know each other. The real organ meat was the friends we made along the way," she said.
As they entered the property, the guests were taken through the greenhouse where the chef and staff "grow their own micro-greens and herbs." She then shared photos of everything she ate that night, and the dishes are weird, minimalist (to say the least), and imaginative—much like the dishes served in The Menu.
First on the list was a hot broth with squirrel ferment, topped with a pile of fresh moss. Apparently, the idea is that you bury your face in the moss and sniff it as you drink it. They were given reindeer heart tartare, which was burned underneath a bed of greens, along with an egg yolk dipping sauce topped with ants.
"The idea is you pick it up with your fingers and you dip it into the sauce," she explained. Every course came with its own wine, but if you don't drink wine, you could select from their homemade teas and juices. Next up was reindeer sweet breads wrapped in edible moss. "They use moss a lot," @mrsmedeiros said.
They also ate deep-fried reindeer brain wrapped in leaf, which she warned would be quite graphic to look at, followed by skewered reindeer tongue. "We are just eating every part of that reindeer," she joked.
Jellied pheasant broth with caviar, pinecone salad with walnuts, fruit leather in the shape of a bug, dried plums with pheasant oil, pumpkin slow cookies in beeswax with morel mushrooms, chili, and pheasant oil were also on the menu. Next they had an intermission and they were allowed to walk through the kitchen and observe the staff (again, much like The Menu). "The chefs were all hot, every single one," she said.
They sat back down to eat a mushroom salad and "truffle cut up to look like a leaf." The stems were actually made of pretzel. She also showed a picture of "extremely rare" duck breast and cured duck meat. @mrsmedeiros said she couldn't show the next dish because it was simply too graphic, and that was followed by a duck breast that was still attached to the wing.
"This one kind of bothered me because the wing doesn't add anything except for theatrical nihilism," she added. There is one scene of The Menu where Tyler (who is a mega fan of Chef Slowik) gushes over the fact that the chef once plated a scallop as it was dying and producing its last muscle contraction. Sounds eerily similar to this TikToker's experience with the winged duck breast.
The dessert portion of the menu featured blueberry sorbet with ants, deep fried moss rolled in chocolate, and caramel-filled chocolate painted to look exactly like chicken feet.
The comment section is full of people highlighting the similarities between The Menu's Hawthorn and Noma. @mrsmedeiros later commented, "I JUST WATCHED THE MENU, LIKE 10 MINUTES AGO and I have zero doubts that there were some...allusions." Some people joked in the comment section that they were glad she made it out alive.
"Why do the rich like to eat like they don't have money?" one person wondered.
We'll probably never know if The Menu was based off of one particular chef or dining experience, but it's hard to believe that Noma wasn't at least a small part of the influence.