At the end of January, I spent a few days in Oslo. The stay was short but, to my surprise and pleasure, it was filled with great food discoveries.
I was not sure of eating well on my trip to Norway. It is true that we are now talking about “new Nordic cuisine” in stores and movies, and that we know the Danish and Swedish chefs who made it popular, but I did not know any famous Norwegian chefs and I had heard that traditional Norwegian cuisine was nothing fancy.
A German blogger had even mentioned in an interview that she did not like Norwegian cooking because she did not like “fish, fermented foods and reindeer”! That was not very attractive. I knew I was not going to Lapland, but it surely sounded like it!
So what a delight it was to experience 3 days of delicious discoveries all in crescendo!
A Smoked Salmon Sandwich Cheaper than a Ham or Chicken Sandwich
Arrival at Oslo Airport. How not to love a country where smoked salmon is cheaper than ham or chicken! Smoked salmon, boiled egg, dill and mayonnaise on crispy baguette, this airport sandwich had nothing to envy to what you can find in good sandwich shops around the world. A great way to start a gourmet getaway in Norway.
Radisson Blu – Breakfast Buffet
If you happen to stay at a Radisson Blu hotel in Norway, I’m sure you’ll enjoy their great breakfast buffet, which offers everything you would expect from an international hotel … and more! I particularly liked their berry smoothies and their soft multi-grain bread with a crispy crust. But do not miss their section of Norwegian products. You will find smoked salmon and herrings, but also a caviar paste in a tube, which you can also buy in every grocery store. Delicious and not to be missed!
Bakeries – Winter terraces and Après-ski
You can also choose to have coffee and pastry at one of the many bakeries and pastry shops in the city center. Nice design, small blanket to keep you warm, nothing is missing to the setting. It’s like relaxing on a terrace at a ski resort!
The “Fromagerie” – Cheeses from all Over the World in the Heart of Oslo
If you like cheese, be sure to walk to the “Fromagerie”, at 9 Valkyriegata. They have cheeses from around the world (the day I went, they even served the Corsican cheese “Fleur de maquis” that I love so much). Of course they also sell great Norwegian cheeses such as the famous Gjetost (brown goat milk cheese), some blue cheeses, but also the Munbeky, a reblochon style cheese, made by the monks of the new Abbey of Munbeky Mariakloster (kloster means monastery in Norwegian), who have made the famous “Abbaye de Citeaux” cheese (Burgundy) for 50 years before coming to Norway.
For more information: Fromagerie
The New of Mathallen and Vulkan Depot Indoor Markets
In a different neighborhood – In the old industrial district of Vulkan, near the Akerselva River and its oldest bridge, in the east of Oslo, are two indoor markets that you must visit. The best known and largest of the two is the Mathallen Market. But don’t miss the building next door, the Vulkan Depot, where there is a large grocery store, a ramen bar, a bakery (https://www.handwerk.no/), but above all the Kontrast restaurant (http: // www.restaurant-kontrast.no/en/), which has one Michelin star since 2016.
The Mathallen Market is home to around 30 stores and restaurants.
Located at 5 Vulkan, in a fully-renovated former factory “Old Broverksted” (built in the 19th century, I believe), Mathallen is a rather unique place. Opened in 2012, it looks a bit like the indoor markets that you can find in Montreal or Boston, with their fruit and vegetable vendors, small shops, and some fast food places. But it is more “elegant”. The grocery stores are mostly delicatessens; its decor is superb with its large glass roof, bricks and black metal beams; the restaurants are of all nationalities and the central part is occupied by large long tables where you can quietly enjoy on the spot what we purchased. There are butchers, fishmongers and an excellent cheese store as well.
This is the perfect place for a lunch, or to enjoy a good local microbrewery beer, especially since food is less costly than in most restaurants in Oslo. In short, a visit not to be missed for all gourmets!
For more information on the Mathallen food court:
The 34 Restaurant, Radisson Blu Plaza – Three Ingredients and Great Panoramic Views
For dinner, who can resist the advertisement that promises delicious traditional Norwegian cuisine, fish and seafood from the North Atlantic and a spectacular view of the city of Oslo? Especially if – just like me – you already have a room at the hotel. All you have to do is take the elevator to the top floor (the restaurant is on the 34th floor).
Our dinner at 34 Restaurant was perfect: very nice cocktail suggested by our waiter, a plate of breads served on a bed of wheat grains (original idea!), refined and creative cuisine, excellent fish and delicious desserts. We savor without knowing exactly what we eat, because the menu has the distinction of being a little mysterious and of only indicating the 3 main ingredients of each dish, without further explanation. But the culinary creations were above our expectations!
The menu changes with the seasons to highlight local ingredients and seasonal dishes and the restaurant also has an extensive wine list.
On the same floor, the 34 SkyBar offers a wide selection of cocktails, wines, beers and champagnes. It’s the perfect place to admire a sunset or Oslo by night.
The Nedre Foss Gård Restaurant
Another excellent choice for dining is the Nedre Foss Gård restaurant, which is also located on the Akerselva River a few hundred meters from Mathallen Market. The property itself dates back to 1220, when documents mentioned a mill, belonging to the cloister of Hovedøya, an island in the Oslo Fjord. This would be the oldest property in the popular district of Grünerløkka. The main building dates back to 1802. The restaurant and the brewery date back to 2015, when it was voted the best new restaurant in Oslo by the readers of the newspaper Aftenposten. It was unfortunately completely destroyed by a fire the same year, and has just reopened in November 2017.
On the ground floor, the restaurant is of a beautiful elegance, in the style of the 20s. The large open kitchen allows you to see chefs and cooks working in the middle of their beautiful copper pots. That evening, we enjoyed an oyster “au gratin” and a marinated halibut carpaccio, with smoked eel mayonnaise in a coriander celery broth. Delicious!
Upstairs, the bar and micro-brewery are remarkable. The dark wood decor and large copper lights make for a rustic and relaxed atmosphere: quite a contrast with the restaurant on the floor below. It opens and closes later than downstairs.
For more information, visit: Nedre Foss Gård
The 26 north Restaurant, Radisson Blu Scandinavia
After a night at the Radisson Blu Plaza (near the train station), I spent 2 nights at the second Radisson Blu in Oslo: the Radisson Blu Scandinavia. So I had the pleasure of eating several meals at their restaurant, the 26 North, and of meeting one of their chefs, Charlotte!
The 26 North has the particularity of specializing in local products from the fjord, the forest and the farm. So you can find a number of ingredients from the forest in their dishes: wild mushrooms, wild berries, wild garlic and even marinated fir shoots!
(I was particularly interested in discovering their cuisine, since at Simply North (link about page), our mission is to explore and promote the ingredients and products of boreal regions.)
A great way to explore their culinary creations is to choose their “mixed board”, which includes four of their appetizers, all delicious and original: a small waffle with cured ham, goat cheese and cloudberry marmalade (a wild berry from the Arctic regions); a mini moose burger with grated goat cheese, caramelized onions and Norwegian summer honey; a cod fish and chips and a crab spring roll. I also had their wild mushroom risotto which was delicious.
For more information, visit: 26 North Restaurant, Oslo
Cocktails or “Afternoon Tea” at the Grand Hotel
Located in the heart of Oslo (Karl Johans Gate 31) on the long tree-lined square leading to the Royal Palace, the Grand Hotel is an imposing building of majestic architecture. Art nouveau decoration, the hotel was renovated in 2008. Every year it hosts with great pomp the Nobel laureates, so why not enjoy a cocktail in the evening or an afternoon tea to have the illusion for a moment to be part of this privileged world. Its “lobby bar” is the perfect place to enjoy this luxurious yet casual atmosphere without breaking the bank and it is said that its “Afternoon Tea” is particularly popular.
The restaurant is also renowned for its Nordic-inspired cuisine and offers a tasting menu of classic and modern dishes.
For more information, visit: Grand Hotel
Maaemo – The Michelin 3-star Restaurant in Oslo
We could not do an article about the gastronomic pleasures of Oslo without mentioning its Michelin 3-star restaurant, the Maaemo. With a menu starting at 2800 NOK (US$ 350) (food alone, wines additional), it was definitely beyond our budget!
For more information, visit: Maaemo
That concludes our gourmet getaway. So many wonderful memories. I hope you have found plenty of ideas for your next stay in Oslo. I also hope you will add your own culinary discoveries in the comments section below.
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