Norway is famous for its seafood so it makes sense that a coastal city like Stavanger has proper seafood restaurants. For as long as I can remember “Fisketorget” has been a place where it has been possible to buy fresh seafood. A few years ago a small house was built on the spot to give both seller and buyer some shelter from the unpredictable Stavanger weather. Just recently it was also decided that it makes sense to have a seafood restaurant in the same spot – at least they have easy access to the ingredients This restaurant is now called Vågen spiseriet but commonly just referred to as “Fisketorget” (the fish market) and it is located at what is called Vågen (the city harbor) - basically in the middle of downtown Stavanger.
I booked a table online on the restaurant’s homepage http://fisketorget-stavanger.no/vaagen/ but note that you have to send them an e-mail to book a table. I would also like to see the restaurant homepage in English and I was also a bit surprised that they don’t have an a la carte menu. According to the restaurant homepage the menu is presented daily on the restaurant Facebook page but that does not always seem to be the case. Perhaps the reasoning is that they compile a daily menu based on freshly caught fish?
Nikki and I went there on a week night before going to the movies and we arrived about 20 minutes early. The entrance is not that great as you just walk right into the main room of the restaurant and in windy Stavanger it would make sense to not get a table close to the door. The decoration is pretty simple with wooden tables, black chairs and dim lighting. On the wall there was a couple of photos from the Norwegian photographer Petter Hegre – I guess in some countries they would be rated X as it contains nudity but in Norway we are pretty liberal and there is a link to food as the photographed models are posing with fish and other types of seafood. As we were early we were asked to come back as there was no space for us yet and I guess they didn’t want us waiting in the bar. There is limited space and most of the tables were occupied by larger groups that night.
When we came back we got a table for two in the middle of the restaurant and the waiter came over with a huge blackboard that contained the evenings 5 course menu (in Norwegian and English). Before Nikki could order the sushi that she had been looking forward to, the waiter informed us that they were out of sushi. Is it just me or is it quite ironic that a seafood market runs out of sushi? Another issue for Nikki was that more or less the entire menu contained some form of dairy products (milk / cream) – not ideal when you are lactose intolerant. In the end Nikki decided to skip the starter and just enjoy the bread that we got together with some water while I went for the scallop and tusk timbal with fennel foam. As a main dish I chose the creamy fish soup while Nikki opted for the fish of the day.
My starter came pretty fast and the presentation was not bad at all. But it seemed like the foam part had been supplemented as there was quite a lot of liquid so basically it was a small fish soup. But I enjoyed the warm creamy soup and there was a good taste of the fennel. The scallop and tusk timbal were also quite good –I guess it is just a fancy name for a fish ball. If I remember correctly it was also served with a couple of grilled scallops that were pretty good. Nikki also asked for a glass of the house red wine and it was served without the waiter presenting the bottle (i.e. region or name)– but based on the receipt later on it was an Italian Valpolicella.
Nikki’s fish of the day was tusk (or is it cusk? It is brosme in Norwegian at least) – a cod fish. It was served on a mixed bed of of lentils, anchovies and olives and I guess it was quite healthy but it was the kind of meal where you think “I think I could have thrown this together in a pan back home”. My fish soup came in a large preheated bowl and it was sprinkled with herbs and oils. The creamy soup was rich and tasty and contained large chunks of fish – both a cod like fish and a salmon type fish. The shrimp in the soup seemed to be just regular small shrimp that you get in a jar – it would have been more extravagant with a few larger scampi.
All in all we were not totally impressed by Fisketorget this evening. I guess we came off on the wrong footing when they didn’t have sushi (in a fish market) and a very limited menu dominated by cream based dishes. So when they asked if we wanted dessert (chocolate cream based on sour cream) we decided to get out of there and rather get a chocolate at the movies. We will probably give it a new chance in the near future – I’m sure it will be wonderful to sit outside on a warm summer evening and enjoy a drink. Having kept an eye on the lunch menus published on FB, Nikki figured it would make a great outdoors weekend lunch place. But the next time I think I will make sure that they have sushi.
http://gardkarlsen.com – trip reports and pictures