Scandinavian cuisine has undergone a complete transformation in less than a decade, with the dull and uninspiring fare of old replaced by what’s become the talk of the culinary world. The Michelin Guide has taken note, giving the region’s first three-star ranking to two restaurants, Copenhagen’s Geranium and Oslo’s Maaemo.

In the foodie bible’s latest Nordic Guide 2016, the two eateries made the jump from two to three stars, a highly-coveted rating awarded to only 120 or so international restaurants. These rankings rarely come without controversy and the biggest shocker was that the Scandinavian restaurants leapfrogged René Redzepi’s Noma. Diners the world over have been known to make the pilgrimage to Copenhagen just to dine at Redzepi’s sacred restaurant, which has been named number one in the world, four out of the last six years by the U.K.’s Restaurant Magazine.   

Redzepi has been the trailblazer of this “New Nordic” movement, pioneering its highly seasonal, hyper-local, farm-to-table aspects that lean heavily on foraging and avant-garde techniques like molecular gastronomy. Some have speculated the reason Noma remains stuck at two stars is that it’s perhaps too experimental, with the menu varying too radically from day-to-day for the more conservative Michelin judges.

Regardless, Redzepi’s influence can be seen all over the new rankings, with many former chefs from his kitchen making the list with their own establishments. There are even numerous Noma-inspired restaurants bringing more attention to the region, with 57 establishments now ranked on the list (Sweden 24, Denmark 22, Norway 4 and Finland 4).

Magnus Nilsson’s Fäviken even managed to debut on the list with two stars, a stunning achievement considering it is located in the wilderness more than 600 miles north of Stockholm. Plus, it recently decided to close its doors 20 weeks of the year (February 28–July 1), so staff can work on their own creative projects.

If you want a reservation at any of these two- and three-star restaurants, be sure to plan ahead. Geranium—which opened in 2007 by Bocuse d'Or winner Rasmus Kofoed and ex-Noma sous-chef Søren Ledet—usually has a three month waiting list. As does Stockholm’s two-star Frantzén, where a typical 16-course dinner for two with wine pairings will easily set you back $1,000.

- Source: Luxe Epicure    Photo: Claes Bech-Poulsen and Maaemo