I normally only write about restaurants in Stavanger but I had a great experience in Oslo that I would like to share with you. A while back there was a lot of publicity about the restaurant Maaemo as it went from being a fairly new restaurant that not that many knew about to being a restaurant with two Michelin stars – I think it is the first one in Scandinavia that went straight to two stars! I read about this a while back but I’m not in Oslo that often so chances for checking it out was slim. But in December 2012 my wife Nikki and I was going there for her annual Christmas party and I figured that it would be a great opportunity to check it out. The restaurant seems to be fully booked all the time even if they allow pre-booking 60 days in advance. As I was booking 60 days in advance I just waited until midnight until the right day opened up for booking and booked a table for 4 on December 7th 2012. I will post photos directly into this blog and I have tried to put them in more or less chronologically.
The restaurant is not that far from Radisson Plaza hotel in Oslo but due to road work we had to do a de-tour through Grønland to get there but it is within walking distance. The restaurant pretty dim lit and with a pretty discreet sign on the outside. We were met by the door and our jackets got taken care of and we were taken to our table. The restaurant is not that huge and it seemed like all the tables were on the lower level while the kitchen was on the upper level. Our table was set already and each of us had a small folded menu with just keywords of what was on the menu that night. We decided to go for all 10 courses as we were celebrating and soon we had a glass of champagne each and we also got a wet cloth to clean our hands. I guess the cloth made sense as the first dishes was served without cutlery.
First we got a small snack made with a Norwegian cream cheese called Nyr served with roe…served on a frozen rock. It was a small piece of art and for a minute we were just looking at the little pieces before the waiter told us to enjoy it while it was cold. I think the piece was a bit too cold as it was a bit frozen. Next pre-starter was lobster in carrots again served on a slab of rock and next dish was a warm, grilled potato with a herb mayo and sprinkled with dried egg yolks. All of these dishes were just pre-starters and they were served quickly and presented in detail.
The small dishes continued with crispy chicken skin, a sour cream with cured reindeer heart and small cones with a taste of chicken liver, crowberries and juniper. The latter dish was presented in a juniper bush in a wooden trough. There is a first time for everything and the next dish was sea urchin and I think this is the first time that I have tasted that. Served in the shell itself the orange “meat” didn’t look that appetizing but the taste was like tasting the ocean. We continued with some red cabbage and then we went back to seafood again when we got an oyster emulsion with a mussel gel topped with a sauce of blue mussel and dill.
After all this we were finally ready to get started on the official menu and it started with quite a “show”. We got a piece of langoustine served on pickled spruce. It looked great to start with but then they came and poured a liquid into the bowl and I guess there was some dry ice in the bowl as there was lots of mist coming out of the bowl and it had a spruce fragrance of course. We continued with some scallops and went over to a quail egg served with veal tongue. Next we got fresh wheat bread served with some sort of wheat beer. I don’t think I have seen that served as a separate dish on a fine dining restaurant but the bread was great!
There was also some interesting combinations coming up…the next dish was monk fish but it was poached in the fenalår infused butter – fenalår is a traditional Norwegian food around Christmas time and it is dried and salted leg of lamb. Before we got the next dish, the waiter presented a gigantic carrot at the table. And that is just what we got…an organic grown carrot cooked at low temperature it is own juices. It was not a very exciting dish in my opinion.
The following dish was more exciting – it was Jerusalem artichokes with duck breast and the mushroom broth was made at the table with some sort of contraption. By this time we were starting to get comfortably full and also a bit tipsy after a glass of wine for each of the main dishes. But we continued with a dish of chicken heart served with burnt onions. It was time to round of the meal but first we went through beet root sorbet!, a goat milk ice cream with apple sauce and the last dish was brown butter ice cream with hazelnut crumble that was delicious. We rounded off with coffee made in an old fashioned way.
All in all this was an amazing experience. We went for the 10 course dinner but we went through a lot of pre-starters so we had about 20 dishes altogether. All dishes were presented in great ways and I’m glad that they didn’t have too many theatrical presentations as that can steal some of the attention from the food itself. The food itself was great and this was a real treat for us. So if you are going to celebrate something special, go ahead to try to book a table – it won’t be easy. In the end the ladies got a small bag with some candy together with a summary of the menu, presentation of the farms and people that Maaemo cooperates with to find the organic raw materials that they need to create the culinary adventures every night. Thank you for a lovely evening Maaemo and thanks to Henning and Heidi for the great company.
If you want to read more about the restaurant you should visit the restaurant homepage on http://maaemo.no/
http://gardkarlsen.com – trip reports and pictures