Housed inside a 13th-century building refurbished to its 17th-century incarnation as a merchant’s residence, Le Bonaparte is one of the most convincing of the Estonian-owned French restaurants. Unlike most foreign-inspired establishments in Tallinn, Le Bonaparte originally had a real French chef, although the kitchen is now run by an Estonian, head chef Artur Ovchinnikov.
Enter the restaurant via a large, medieval gallery which has been put to use as a cosy, luxurious café hidden from the tourist-ridden streets outside and a favourite haunt of locals. The restaurant itself sits in a spacious, wood-beamed nobleman’s dining room, decorated in rustic, Renaissance style – resplendent with pewter tableware and crisp linen.
Le Bonaparte’s menu promises ‘an entire culinary philosophy’ – and like the French, Ovchinnikov takes his food very seriously, offering gorgeous feasts of classical French cuisine combined with some trendy, high-end experimentation (‘Prawns flamed with Pernod’, ‘Cranberry coulis with Vodka’). Owner-manager Kadri Kroon is a trained sommelier, so the wine list is well placed to complement the food. Characterful, atmospheric and, unsurprisingly, rather expensive.