Inside Nōema: The Mykonos Restaurant That Marries Tradition With Innovation

Located in a former open-air cinema Nōema is a stylish restaurant, bar and concept store in the center of Mykonos town. Using time-honoured Cycladic traditions, the menu leans towards ingredients that are cured, fermented, sun-dried, and flame-grilled, while the boutique spotlights local and independent designers.

Nōema is the Greek word for “meaning” or “substance”—how does that relate to what the restaurant is trying to achieve? Everyone has a different idea of what “meaningful” is. Understanding the stories behind a meal along with the cultural importance or the purpose of an ingredient can help elevate and shape an evening out. Nōema tells a story—through the food, the staff, and the actual space.

Nōema is a hybrid space designed to inspire a strong sense of community and place—who is the Noema community and how do you bring them together? The restaurant is located in the center of Mykonos Town, and this creates a hidden, close-knit atmosphere. The kitchen is full of young chefs, there’s an ever-changing community of musicians passing through, and people just come together in the space.

What are some of the signature dishes and why? Does the menu change throughout the season? The menu is ever-changing, depending on the season. When visiting Nōema, you should always try the fish of the day. Simplicity is key with this dish. A heavily seasoned fish is often a sign that it’s not fresh, but a freshly caught fish, served with local olive oil and lemon, is a great choice at Nōema.

How have you reinterpreted some of the classic Greek dishes to make them more contemporary and unique? Greece is so geographically diverse that there isn’t one monolithic “Greek” cuisine. The food culture of the Cyclades is something that we like to experiment with. These islands have a rich heritage around preserving, curing, and pickling ingredients. The kitchen adopts these traditional techniques but also modifies them, incorporating unexpected ingredients, for example, to create something unexpected.

Let’s look at a tomato: a fresh July tomato is perfect for a Greek salad. But the same can’t always be said later in the season, so by employing these time-tested preservation techniques that tomato transforms into something entirely different come October.

K-Studio is known for designing spaces that celebrate the history and architectural traditions of a location—how are those two ideas communicated in the design and aesthetic at Nōema? Today, simple whitewashed buildings are symbolic of Mykonos town, but this was not always the case. Whitewashing was in fact first introduced for hygiene reasons during a cholera outbreak in the 1930s, and then the aesthetic stuck.

At Nōema we’ve chosen a palette of muted charcoals—a nod to the granite boulders—and creamy caramels—to echo the stone walls and golden beaches of Mykonos. The design teams we worked with, Lambs & Lions and K-Studio, made sure that nature and the local surrounds provided the inspiration for the entire Nōema project.

The rich umber wood used throughout is also a nod to the past. The design team visited the Folklore Museum of Mykonos to learn the traditional methods for treating wood. This meant using petroleum as a varnish and then leaving the material in the sun to seal. The resulting dark burnt patina gives the interiors a sense of history and gravitas.

There is also a concept store as part of the offering—how do you find and source designers for this space? The Store aims to showcase Greek and international artisanship through clothing, footwear, jewellery, cosmetics, design objects, books, and magazines. Independent brands such as Garçon Sauvage, Le Kasha, and Sophie Deloudi can be found in the store. Nōema also has its own signature line, Prao, designed by Marios Schwab, inspired by the effortless elegance of local island life.

This season, The Store also features a capsule collection by Ancient Greek Sandals; effortless basics by Parthenis; swimwear from Norma Kamali and Eres; kaftans by LemLem; and Castañer espadrilles.

How does an evening unfold? How is the music curated? At Nōema, the kitchen team draw from their own experiences and background to create fresh and innovative dishes, and the music program follows a similar formula. Curated by DJ and producer Lannka, he encourages instrumentalists, sound artists, vocalists, other DJs, and unexpected talents from around the world to perform and collaborate. Greece has been soaking up musical influences for centuries. Nōema is a continuation of this: a place where ancient instruments can be heard alongside emerging and unexpected mediums.

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