Monday, April 30, 2007

Fine dining with a fine view at Bølgen & Moi

I visited the place Bølgen & Moi in the end of April 2007 in connection with a work related event. This restaurant is located in connection with the Oil museum in Stavanger and you can see where it is located by checking out this interactive Google map that I have made: http://gardkarlsen.com/stavanger_map.htm . The name of the place is derived from the two guys Toralf Bølgen and Trond Moi who are both well known names in the Norwegian food/restaurant industry and you can also find Bølgen & Moi restaurants in some other Norwegian cities. Bølgen & Moi in Stavanger is located with a view of the harbour and the view was lovely on this nice spring afternoon. We were served aperitifs as new participants joined our party and the staff was observant when they noticed that a new face had arrived at the table. We decided to go for a 5 course meal with the wine package so we all had the same meal. The place is not a gourmet restaurant by the way...the head of the restaurant Hammersvik prefers to call it a brassiere. There is a review of the place in the local Stavanger newspaper: http://www.rogalandsavis.no/bruland/article2712552.ece (only in Norwegian).

The table was set in a funky way when we came there and we all had each our huge and colourful plate in from of us. We got a starter before we started on the main meal by the way and I think it was a rocket soup. I'm not sure what stock was used in the soup but it was very tasty :-) The same goes for the focaccia bread that was served with a lovely olive dip on the side. We got a Riesling kabinett, Dr. Loosen 2005 for this meal and we kept this when the first course was served: scallop. To serve scallop at restaurants seems to be pretty common and in this case we got two served with a purée of cauliflower and blood orange vinaigrette. It is always nice with scallops but maybe it was a bit much with two...as the evening progressed some of the guests felt there was too much food to be handled :-)

From the scallops we moved on the monkfish served on risotto with vanilla and rosemary foam. Monkfish is my favourite fish and it tasted excellent as usual. And risotto is one of my favourite dishes and it was made just the right way in this meal. This was a lovely dish that I can recommend if you decide to just order from the menu. We had a Saint Veran, Cave-Prissé 2005 along with this dish.

We continued with lamb served with lentils, sweetbread, portobello mushroom and tomato. The meat was a bit to rare for my likings but it was tasty. The potatoes were very good and I'm a bit curious on how it was made. It seemed like they were sliced and then put back again and fried. We had a Spanish Rijoa by the name of Muga for this dish. I have had this on a few other occasions and it is a great wine that goes well with lamb.

The next course was a bit of cheese with bread and something sweet. I'm not sure that the sweet bit was but it was good together with the cheese and the wine. The blue mould cheese was good and not to extreme like it was at Craigs :-) The dessert this evening was a passion fruit tart with strawberry sherbet and raspberry cream...the sherbet was lovely and fresh and the tart was sweet and delicious. We had a Riesling Beerenauslese 2005 for the dessert by the way. We ended the meal with some coffee and something extra on the side and all of a sudden we noticed that we were alone in the restaurant. Time flies when you are having fun :-)

Conclusion: check out Bølgen & Moi if you haven't been there. We got great food, great service and a lovely view of the harbour in Stavanger. The only negative comment was that some felt there was too much food in this meal :-) On the plus side I have to mention that the waiters always made sure that we had some wine and they would refill during the meal if we finished a glass. We had to pay about 1200 kroner per person for the meal (about 200 $). You can read a bit more about Bølgen & Moi on their web page http://www.bolgenogmoi.no/ .


Regards
Gard
http://gardkarlsen.com/ - trip reports and pictures

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Simones – Italian food with a cold draft

Note that Simones has closed down :-(

We stopped by Simones to get some food before going to the movies last week. We have been to Simones 1 time before and back then we were not blown away by the food but we wanted to try it out again. Simones is located in the middle of Klubbgata close to the coffee bar Steam and it only has about 20 seats. There is a huge glass door that leads into the place and once you open the door you are in the middle of the restaurant. This is a problem in the winter time where there is a cold draft every time someone opens the door to go in or out. As a remedy they have put up heaters but it was still uncomfortable and not very cosy when we were there on a Friday night.

We came in right after a group of 8 had come in and our waiter informed us that it would take a while to get our food as there was only once chef in the kitchen and he would make the food as the orders came in. The kitchen and the restaurant is only separated by a half-wall so it was possible to see the progress in the kitchen. Due to this large group several other people chose to leave the restaurant to find a new place to eat as it would take to long to get the food. The place has brick walls so it is pretty rustic and on the one wall there was a huge 42” TV screen showing an Italian TV show and the atmosphere is pretty informal…we had three different chairs at our table to it does not look like they have a focus on the interior.

This is an Italian place and on some forum they claimed that Simones has the best pizza in town. We decided to do it the Italian way by having a starter and then a main meal. Nikki went for steamed mussels with pesto, I decided to go for a plate of tapas and my friend Olav wanted a sandwich. My tapas was not bad but pretty standard with olives, grissini, ham, chorizo, cheese etc. I asked the waiter what kind of red wine they served by the glass but there was only 1 kind by the glass…but I think they had 5-10 to choose from if you wanted a full bottle. The sandwich that Olav got was way too big as a starter in my opinion and I think they should have cut down on the portions and made them cheaper. I think I had to pay about 140 kroner (23$) for my tapas dish.

For the main meal Olav went for the spaghetti Carbonara while Nikki and I went for the pizza. There is quite a selection of different pizzas on the menu and I went for one with ham, rocket, parmesan and mushrooms. The pizzas were typically Italian style….flat and not that much topping. Normally this kind of pizza is pretty good but the ones we got at Simones was pretty…ehh…well, boring. Olav didn’t say that much about the spaghetti and I didn’t think much of it as he is normally pretty quiet. But he didn’t finish the meal and when we walked away from the place he was like “that spaghetti was not good at all”.

Conclusion: The waiter we had did a very good job…he was polite, informed us about the delay and did the job with a smile. But unfortunately this was not enough to save the day as it took a while to get the food, the food was mediocre and we sat in a cold draft every time someone opened the door. We ended up paying about 850 kroner (about 140$) for the three of us. The pizzas were about 140 kroner I think. You can read a bit more on http://www.simones.as but the menu is not published here I’m afraid. My recommendation is: if you want good Italian food go to Allegro instead.

Regards
Gard
http://gardkarlsen.com - trip reports and pictures

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Eating too much at Naree Thai

One afternoon my friend Olav came into my office and asked me if I was up for some Thai food. Nikki and I was a bit sceptical as our trip to Thailand is coming up soon (see http://gardkarlsen.com/thailand2007.htm ) and we don’t want to get fed up of Thai food before we get there. But Olav convinced us and this time we went to check out Naree Thai in downtown Stavanger. Naree Thai is located near the Oil museum of Stavanger and there is room for 35 to 40 in the small restaurant.

We came there pretty early (about 5 PM) and it was still possible to get the lunch menu. This means that you can get smaller dishes at a lower price…I guess it was this that lead us to go a bit overboard. We ended up getting two dishes each…plus the classical Tom Yam Goong (the spicy and sour shrimp soup) and a cold salad with clear noodles and shrimps. Apart from that we ordered chicken with ginger, chicken with hot basil, chicken in red coconut sauce, chicken in green coconut sauce, chicken with cashew nuts etc. Actually we ordered so much that I can’t remember all of it :-)

We got the tom yam goong pretty fast and we were starving so we started digging in. The soup was good but different that the ones we are used to from other places. Normally this soup is pretty “clear” but at Naree Thai it seemed to be more…creamy I guess. The rest of the dishes came one by one and I guess I should have taken a picture of the entire table in the end as the table was all filled up with food. We shared all the various dishes and the food was quite good and we were all wondering why we had never tried this restaurant before. The different dishes were not really that spicy so I guess they have been toned down to suite the Norwegian palettes :-) The chicken in red chili and chicken in green chili was surprisingly similar….actually we had trouble telling which was which when the plates were shuffled around. But they were both very tasty.

Conclusion: If you like Thai food then Naree Thai is an option when eating out in Stavanger. If you want to save a few kroner go before 6 PM and go for the lunch menu. The lunch menu has dishes where the price range from 65 kroner (11$) to 75 kroner (12,5$) and the dinner menu had dishes ranging from 130 kroner (22$) to 160 kroner (27$). Our bill was about 1000 kroner (167$) for the 4 of us. Check out the restaurant web site on http://www.nareethairestaurant.no/ and the menu on http://www.nareethairestaurant.no/Meny.doc .

Regards
Gard
http://gardkarlsen.com - trip reports and pictures

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Around the world in a glass of beer - Cardinal

If you want to go out in Stavanger for a glass of beer you should consider Cardinal. The place is located near the harbour in Stavanger (right behind Hansenhjørna) and in the middle of the "bar district". I went there last year with a couple of friends and I was surprised to see the selection of beer on offer. Cardinal is a place that has been around for a long time and it is pub of the old type. Back in the old days when people was allowed to smoke in the pubs it was more or less impossible to breath in the place...that has improved a lot after the new laws about smoking came along :-)

We started with a trip down memory lane by having a glass of Tiger beer. We had quite a lot of this when we went to Malaysia lasy year (see http://gardkarlsen.com/malaysia_kuala_lumpur.htm ) but I think the beer is originally from Singapore. We continued with a Sapporo beer from Japan. We didn't have too much of this when we went to Japan in 2005 (see http://gardkarlsen.com/japan_tokyo.htm )...we stuck to Asahi when we went to Japan...but they have that too at Cardinal :-) . After that we "returned to Europe" by having a Leffe from Belgium...the Leffe Blonde was horrible by the way. By this time it was time to move on already :-(

Conclusion: If you are looking for an excellent selection of beer you should check out Cardinal. You can choose between 250 different types of beer and they claim it is the best selection in Norway. Having such a selection is really quite amazing at least for Stavanger...at bars here there are normally just a few beers to choose from...like Heineken, Carlsberg and local beer types. A bottle of beer will typically cost you from 60 to 90 kroner (10$ to 15$).

You can read more about this pub on and see the entire menu of beer on http://www.cardinal.no/ . If you want to try out a Norwegian brand that is a bit different try out Nøgne Ø (see http://www.nogne-o.no/ ) .

Regards
Gard
http://gardkarlsen.com - trip reports and pictures

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Best coffee in town? - Charlie Brown

Note that Charlie Brown has closed down :-(

So where do you go to find the best coffee in Stavanger? I have tested out some of the joints in town and in my opinion you can find the best coffee in town in the small cafe Charlie Brown in Stavanger Storsenter. I have gotten feedback from people that I shouldn't recommend a place that is located in a shopping mall...but if you are looking for good coffee this is the place to go. Here is a short review of the place.


Charlie Brown is located on the second floor of the shopping mall Stavanger Storsenter. There are about 6 tables with a view and a few more in a room behind the place....here you will also find a few PC's if you need to get on the internet. We normally drop in on Saturdays when we are in town and we enjoy to have a chicken or tuna fish salad. But Charlie Brown also offers sandwiches, ice cream, cakes but it is the coffee that is the specialty. Personally I enjoy the caffe mocca with whipped cream but it is more of a dessert really. They also have a very good cappuccino and if you want some more coffee taste why not try the cortado. I have also tried ice coffee here in the summer time and that is also quite delicious.

The conclusion is that this may not be the cosiest place in town as it is located in a shopping mall. But if you are looking for some great coffee this is the place to go. By the way...if you go there on a Saturday please leave a couple of salads for us :-) I would love to here other suggestions to places that can compete for the title "Best coffee in town"....I'm always willing to try out new places :-)



Regards
Gard
http://gardkarlsen.com/ - Trip reports and pictures

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Full package at Craig's

Note that Craigs kitchen has closed down :-(

In January the restaurant Craig's kitchen got a pretty good review in the local newspaper RA (see article http://www.rogalandsavis.no/bruland/article2535867.ece - only in Norwegian) so we decided to check out th place again since we haven't been there in a while and since we had a 10 year anniversary :-) We booked a table for 7.30 PM and when we arrived we were told we were the last guests to arrive that evening so we could pick any table. I guess there is about 30 seats in the restaurant and even if there are some nice decorations (garlic, vanilla etc in jars) the place looks a bit cold and "uninviting"...and the chairs could have been more comfortable :-)

We went for a full package which means a 6 course dinner with the wine package to go along with it. Craig's is one of only 5 restaurants in Norway that can use the title Best of "Award of Excellence" in the american magazine Wine Spectator (see http://web3.aftenbladet.no/lokalt/article230412.ece -only in Norwegian) so they have a pretty good wine selection. We started with a drink....and after a trip to Paris last year (http://gardkarlsen.com/Paris_France.htm ) we have a standard drink: Kir Royale (a refreshing mix of crème de cassis and champagne). I had this in Paris last week and in general I think it is better when we travel...maybe it is all in the mind :-)

We got some bread to start with but the first course came suprisingly fast. Our opening dish was smoked pork roll with apple and foie gras. Foie gras is strange but it works very good in a small dosage and together with the acidic apple. Along with this dish we got a Fritz Haag Riesling that worked pretty good with the food. Each wine was explained to us by the waiter but he was aiming a bit too high in his explenations...we don't know that much about wine. I would loved to have more redwine but that is because I like redwine better in general :-) Second dish was scallop in a potatoe soup with truffles. The soup was excellent and the scallop was very good. Once again we got a riesling...this time Hirsch Riesling from Austria is I'm not mistaken. This was drier but once again it went good with our dish....it must be hard for them to choose which wine to serve to each dish when they have about 750 bottles to choose from :-)

We continued with cod in a butter sauce with capers and parsley. The cod was delicious and split into layers as it should do. And the sauce was to die for...I'm pretty sure that they used the real thing here and not some diet margerine thing :-) We continued with an Austrian wine if I'm not mistaken...a Prager-Hinter Grüner Weltliner (another white wine) and once the wine was good. The only problem with the meal so far was that the different courses came a bit too fast so Nikki was struggling to finish her wine. In the end she was left with numerous glasses in front of her :-)

After a fast pause dish (champagne and ice) we had another main dish...suckling lamb, homemage sausage, spinach gnocchi and pepper sause. The lamb, sausage and gnocchi was excellent and the sauce was again to die for. For this dish we finally got a red wine....a Cornas Granit "30"...where the 30 number indicates the age of the wine bushes according to our waiter. It is always great to taste red wines that are different and this red wine was a nice new acquaintance :-) Nikki said no to the next dish but I did go for the cheese. I got some brie, a blue mold cheese and a "regular" cheese. The blue mold cheese was a bit too intense for me so it was pretty nice to "rest" by eating nuts and grissini :-) We got a sweet French wine for the cheese: La Quintessence. Sweet wine like this is pretty good if you only get a glass :-) For dessert we got tiramisu with a passion fruit sorbet. I have tasted many strange versions of tiramisu over the years so I have become a bit sceptic when I see this on the menu...but Craig's made it pretty good and the way it shoud be made (at least in my opinion). To this dessert we got a very sweet Astrian white wine called Weinrieder Eiswein.

We had some coffee before we headed back home...pretty full at a bit tipsy after all the wine. Craigs met our expectations and the food was great. But note that if you go for a full package (food and wine) it will cost you a bit. The total bill was 2600 kroner for the both of us (about 420 $)...the Kir Royale was about 110 Kroner per glass (about 18$). I think it is a bit strange to charge 10 kroner for tap water when you are paying for such a meal. The 6 dishes cost 645 kroner (105$) exluding the wine. As I mentioned earlier the different dished came a bit too fast and Nikki was struggling to keep up when it comes to finishing the wine. But all in all....if you are looking for a good meal in Stavanger you should consider Craig's :-)

Read more about the place on http://www.craig.no/

Regards
Gard
http://gardkarlsen.com/ - trip reports and pictures

Wine by the weight at Café Sting

Here is a short review of Café Sting in Stavanger. We have visited this little restaurant many times over the years and it is usually a safe bet if we want a small and fast meal. The place is located right by the Valbergtårn and you can check out more info about the place and see the menu on their homepage http://www.cafe-sting.no/ . It is a small place so it can be hard to find a seat. It is also a popular place for just sitting down with friends to have a glass of wine or a beer. The place is informal and you order your meal by the counter but the food is brought to the table by a waiter

We stopped by Sting in March and even if it was Stavanger Wine festival it was not a problem getting a table. Nikki wanted to have the Italian pork chop while I went for the salad with grilled chicken. The food came surprisingly fast and Nikki was satisfied with her pork chop...the only problem was that they didn't have any real sharp knives and hence she had to do some tearing to get the meat of the pork chop :-) My salad was also goo with lots of chicken, marinated portobello mushroom etc

Sting has a cool concept when it comes to wine. You can buy wine by the weight. They don't have that many wines to choose from but they place the glass on a scale and they pour the wine and you can say stop when you want. The price depends on the weight of the wine. So I used this opportunity to have a small glass of Italian red wine and a small glass of Spanish red wine.

I recommend the buffalo wings at Sting by the way. It is made with a very good, spicy and acidic sauce...just the way we like it :-)

Conclusion: Sting is still a safe bet if you want a fast snack in informal surroundings. But remember that it can be hard to get a seat...and the menu is a bit limited.

Regards
Gard
http://gardkarlsen.com - trip reports and pictures

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Charles & De in Sandnes

Nikki and I usually eat out in Stavanger and we joke about that we can't go to Sandnes as there are no "real" restaurants there....and it is a fact that the selection of restaurants are limited in Sandnes compared to Stavanger. But enough about that...in mid February we went to Charles & De in Sandnes (see http://www.charlestjessem.no/ ). This place is run by the world champion chef Charles Tjessem. The place is split into a Brasseri and a Café and we visited the latter. It is a bit of a shame that the Café close at 6 PM because we would love to visit this place before going to the movies at 8-9 PM.

Back to the visit...the café is informal as there are menues on the tables and you have to walk over to the counter to order. You can check out the menu on the homepage and as you can see you can get sandwiches, pizzas, salads, small warm dishes etc. I'm very into risotto so I had to try that while Nikki wanted to try the bacon fried cod. The risotto was changed a bit compared to the menu as they ran out of peas...but it was still good even if it was a bit different compared to the risottos that I'm used to...and it could have been warmer (I don't like lunk warm food). Nikki's fish was good...cod wrapped in bacon with mashed potatoes and fried vegetables on the side. They also sell various home made vitamin drinks...we tried the passion fruit drink with mango, local apple cider and banana...and the drink was excellent.

If you are up for dessert they can offer small portions of flan, chocolate cake etc.

Conclusion: Charles & De is a nice place that I would love to visit again. They only problem is that they close to early :-( So I guess there are some real places to dine in Sandnes after all :-)

Regards
Gard
http://gardkarlsen.com/ - trip reports and pictures