Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Restaurants are closing!

It has been a challenging period for restaurants in Stavanger. With a decline in the oil price there has also been a decline in people going out to eat in Stavanger and that has influenced a lot of places. These are some of the places that have gone out of business or have chosen to close down in the last couple of years:

- Nero
- Cafe de France
- Mama Afrika
- Straen
- Timbuktu
- Le Café Francais
- Mathallen
- Kita (closing down December 22nd 2016)

But it is also good to see that new places are popping up: Basil & Co, Bar Social Eating, Mondo, The Shack, Villa 22, 26 North etc.


Thursday, December 8, 2016

Excellent lunch at Mondo

We went to Mondo for lunch on a Tuesday and the place was pretty much empty. The menu is limited but there are good meat and fish options. I decided to have a duck confit and I was impressed by that. The portion was just right with the duck confit on top of a puree of potato and it was served with red cabbage stew and fried onions.
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I also decided to have a dessert as it was warm bread pudding served with ice. The warm pudding was served in a hot rock bowl by Odd Standard together with rum raisin ice cream and chocolate and caramel. All in all a very good meal in a beautiful and stylish restaurant Read more about Mondo on their homepage!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Sandnes Brygge–small portions and rare chicken

We went to Sandnes Brygge on a Friday night with friends. The Sandnes harbor area has gotten a bit of a makeover in the last few years and the place now looks modern and hip and there is also a choice of restaurant ranging from Mondo to Dolly Dimple pizza.

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The table was ready when we arrived and we received a hearty welcome. The place was bigger than it looks from the outside and the interior has modern decoration. There were also a lot of people and a great atmosphere. The tables were maybe a bit too close to each other at least compared to what we are used to here in Norway. We got the menus right away from our surprisingly attentive waitress and we were a bit disappointed when we noticed that the menu was different from the one that is shown on their homepage. According to the web site the menu changes 4 times a year. I decided to go for a salt baked celeriac served with a mash of sweet potato to start with and Nikki went for Crudo – I guess their version of ceviche. As we enjoy our risotto we both decided to have chicken risotto as the main meal.

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It only took about 15 minutes to get the starter and the salt baked celeriac was presented in a delicate way. The taste was also good but the celeriac was quite salty so I think it would have been better to use a larger celeriac and bake it longer. The sweet potato puree had a great consistency and certainly stole the show. Nikki got her Crudo and that also looked like a good portion and again it was beautifully presented as the fish was decorated with edible flowers. But Nikki didn’t eat much of it – commenting that it smelt more than she would have preferred and was not quite the fresh fish taste she expected but the dressing was a good accompaniment. Usually the waiter will ask if something was wrong if a dish has basically been untouched but we did not get any questions.

The main meal was served 20 minutes later and it was a risotto with peas and chanterelles served with chicken breast on top. I think we were all a bit surprised as the portion was quite small. The risotto was good in taste but I would have enjoyed to see it more creamy and with less peas. There were large pieces of chanterelles which is good as they are in season now. My chicken was also quite good and I loved the chicken chips that were served on the side. I think the chicken chips were just chicken skin that was salted and fried. Nikki got a bit larger chunks of chicken and they seemed to be rare in the middle and due to this she sent it back to the kitchen. She got it back after a few minutes but it was still quite rare from the looks of it so again she ended up just enjoying the rest of her risotto. We were also quite amused to see the generous helpings of wine – not very usual in Norway.

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We decided to skip dessert as we were going to the movies. My starter was pretty good and the main dish was not bad either – even if the portion could have been a bit more sizable. Nikki didn’t seem that lucky as she only tasted the starter and she chose not to take a chance with the chicken. I think it would have been great if the waitress had shown some interest when she saw that we basically sent back the entire starter and didn’t eat the chicken that was served with the main meal. We have mixed feelings about this place. The atmosphere and service in general were commendable. We would certainly consider giving it another try and it’s great to see that Sandnes has a variety of restaurants to offer. Check out the restaurant homepage on http://sandnes-brygge.no/


Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Toast at Amatören

We went to Amatören on a Saturday afternoon in September 2016 to grab some lunch. This place is a typical lunch place I guess as they only have various light meals such as toast, nachos, a salad, soup of the day and smoothies and shakes. I decided to have the Bulldog toast and Nikki decided to have the soup of the day which was carrot soup. According to the menu they can make all the things lactose and gluten free which is a plus if you have some allergies.

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The toast was served after 20 minutes – a bit long in my opinion as this is pretty simple meal. The toast was made with white bread and had scrambled eggs, bacon and cheese. It was served with a sauce and a small salad. Nikki’s soup was served a few minutes later together with a white toast with cheese. The soup was a carrot and ginger soup made with coconut milk and it was pretty good but in my opinion there was a bit too much ginger. The ginger taste stole the show and it was not that easy to taste any carrot.

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According to a sign in the café they serve the best coffee banana shake in the world. I’m easily persuaded when it comes to shakes so I bought one to check it out. I’m not totally convinced that this is the best in the world. There was not that much taste of coffee or banana in my opinion -instead there was a dark chocolate taste.

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I’m not totally convinced by Amatören. The toast that I had was good but I think they could have used better bread. This bread seemed to be the regular loaf that you can buy at the grocery store. The soup was decent but I would have used less ginger. All in all – a good place if you just want a plain toast for lunch but if you want a better selection you better try out some of the other lunch places in town.

Check out their Facebook homepage for more info and to have a look at the menu!

gardkarlsen.com – trip reports and pictures

Friday, September 23, 2016

Basil & Co: Good pizza but boring pasta

Most restaurants in Stavanger are located in downtown area but with the building of more apartments in the Storhaug/Lervig area, there are places also popping up in the eastern part of the city. Ostehuset Øst have dominated the scene I guess but now there are new additions with places like Øst, Kaffekanna and Basil & Co. Nikki and I tried to book a table at Basil & Co for a Friday night in September 2016 but we were told that you can’t book a table unless you are more than 8 people. We came there at about 8 pm and there were still a couple of table available. We lined up in the line that we thought were the line for getting a table but it turned out that it was free seating and the line was actually for ordering food. The interior of the restaurant is modern – the place just opened after all. There is a combination of chairs and sofas and I was impressed to see power and USB outlets along sections of the seating. I assume they have been installed for letting people charge laptops and gadgets.

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The slogan for the restaurant is “Ferskt.Enkelt.Nydelig” (something like “Fresh, simple and delicious” and their goal is to serve food at an affordable prize. The menu is pretty limited – they have some small dishes, some pizza and some pasta! We looked at the menu and walked over to the counter to order some food and we decided to have a caprese salad and bruschetta as starters and pasta Bolognese and pizza picante as main dishes. The wine was pretty affordable with a bottle starting at 289 NOK (35 USD) and a glass starting at 59 NOK (7 USD). Having said that – this wine does cost 89 NOK at the local wine store so it is amongst the cheapest wines you can get here.

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It didn’t take long before we got the starters. Nikki was happy with her bruschetta as the bread was warm and the tomatoes were tasty. My caprese salad was served in a simple way and looked beautiful! But it was maybe served in a too simple way. It was just small tomatoes sprinkled with a bit of cheese and olive oil and a few leaves of basil on top. The tomatoes were tasty but maybe a bit too hard and I would have preferred it they were pre-sliced as it was a bit tricky to eat them – I ended up chasing tomatoes around on the plate with my fork.

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It then took a while for the main dish to be served. The picante pizza that I got was not bad at all. No, it is not the best pizza that I have ever tasted. It was light on the tomato sauce and sprinkled with the picante salami sausage together with onion and mozzarella. I would have enjoyed some more and more defined tomato sauce and some more defined mozzarella cheese. But all in all the taste was pretty good even if it was a bit on the salty side. Nikki was not too impressed with her pasta Bolognese. She had the option of choosing the type of pasta when she ordered and she decided to go for tagliatelle. When looking at the restaurant homepage I get the impression that everything is handmade from scratch but the paste that she got did not look like that. But I guess the main problem was that there was not a lot of sauce but a lot of pasta. Her conclusion was that we make a better Bolognese back home.

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I also wanted to check out the dessert menu as I saw a sign saying “tiramisu” when I walked into the restaurant. But when I went to order that I was told that they were sold out and the only option now was dessert pizza. I decided to go wild and ordered an apple compote pizza topped with Italian meringue. It took a bit of time to get this but I got it freshly made and it was a small pizza topped with warm apple compote with hints of rosmary and a bit of meringue on top. It was not bad but it just feels wrong to have a sweet pizza. As I love my Italian meringue I would have enjoyed a bit more of that on top of the pizza.

I think the place sticks to their slogan and concept and I think it will be a popular place. It will be a nice place to sit down for a pizza in the summer time with a glass of wine as they even have outdoor seating. Nikki was not that impressed with the pasta this time but with some adjustments this can also be improved. We will probably check it out again to try out more of their food – and next time I hope that they will also have more dessert options.

Our meal at Basil & Co was about 515 Norwegian Kroner this evening (not including drinks) – this is about 63 USD. Check out the restaurant homepage on http://basilogco.no/ for more information.

gardkarlsen.com – trip reports and pictures

Restaurant Nero closes down

It is sad to see a new restaurant close down in Stavanger. This time it is Restaurant Nero tin the basement of Victoria Hotell hat has decided to close down in September 2016. I think the restaurant opened in late 2007 and to start with it was an excellent fine dining Italian restaurant (see my review http://eatingoutinstavanger.blogspot.no/2007/10/bravissimo-nero.html ). But I guess people did not understand the concept and after a few years they went over to a modern European cuisine. But now the restaurant is history but hopefully there will be new restaurant popping up around Stavanger in the years to come.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Like a home cooked meal–Mama Afrika

Mama Afrika has closed permanently!

We went to Mama Afrika for a quick meal on an early evening in September 2016. When we got there the place was totally empty so we got a table quickly and got the menus right away. The menu is not that extensive and I decided to go for a grilled salmon while my wife Nikki decided to have the chicken. The concept of having a restaurant that serves “African” food is a bit weird as Africa is a huge continent with so many cultures and so many food traditions but that is another story.
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It didn’t take long before we got a warm bun and butter as a starter and we soon got the main dish. My salmon was good and it came with a huge portion of noodles, vegetables, fried banana and a sauce. Nikki got her chicken served with rice and a salad. I’m struggling a bit to elaborate more on the dining experience at Mama Afrika. The meal was totally fine and it reminded me of a good home cooked meal but I was not blown away. The food was served fast and the portions were big. What I will remember from the visit is the chairs – I’m pretty average in height and the chair was pretty uncomfortable.
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Check out Mama Afrika’s homepage on http://mamaafrika.no/ to make reservations and check out the menu.
gardkarlsen.com – trip reports and pictures

Thursday, September 1, 2016

The Shack Mariero

As I said in my review of Birger Burger, there has been a bit of a burger revolution here in the area. The Shack also opened in 2015 and later on they have expanded two other locations here in the Stavanger area. The branch in downtown Stavanger just opened! But I stopped by The Shack in Mariero the day after I had my Birger Burger to be able to compare the two. The Mariero branch is a small place and there are a few tables and chairs but the main goal seems to serve burgers to people that wants to bring it back home. The Shack has made an app for the smart phone which makes it so easy to order and pay for a burger. Well, my only beef (no pun intended) with the app is that the font is tiny. But in the app you can order the burger, get it fried to your liking, add more cheese and order extras. It is just brilliant. I used the app to order and went for the Mr. Explosion with some extra cheese and some extra bacon. When I came to The Shack I had to wait for a couple of minutes but then my name was called out and I got the burger.
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As this is a takeaway place the burger came wrapped but with no paper inside. It would have been great with a pocket like paper to avoid dripping everywhere. There will be dripping by the way as the burger is juicy. The burger was fried medium (as I has asked for it to be) and with the extra bacon and cheese. The burger was maybe a bit too salty in my opinion but I still enjoyed it! I did not have any extras this time but in the past I have enjoyed both the onion rings and the fries.
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So is the Shack better than Birger Burger? It is hard to choose a winner as they are both very good burger places. The Shack has angus meat by default in most of the burgers and have a longer menu (including ribs and chicken). I also like the app that The Shack has made as it makes it so easy to order a burger. Birger Burger has the best bun in my opinion and I also appreciated the extra greens I got on the Birger Burger.
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All in all, The Shack serves a great burger and I look forward to checking it out again. Check out the full menu on The Shack website.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Birger Burger in Sola–juicy and tasty!

Birger Burger opened in Sandnes last year (2015) and joined Døgnvill Burger and The Shack to create a bit of a burger revolution. It is now trendy with burger and the focus is burgers with good quality ingredients. The Birger Burger branch in Sandnes is tiny and the same goes for the Sola branch and it seems like the concept is take away.
I was at Birger Burger in Sola on a Sunday evening and when I walked in the place was empty. The menu is limited and that is also their goal – there is full focus on just a few burgers. I ordered the Birger Blåtann which is a burger with blue cheese , honey, salad and tomato. I was asked if I wanted to upgrade to angus meat (for an additional 25 kroner) and I accepted that but I was never asked what kind of bread I wanted. I was not asked how I wanted the burger either by the way. In addition to the burger you can get French fries or onion rings and I went for the small portion of onion rings with aioli dipp. I was told that it would take about 12 minutes and that was more or less spot on and I got my burger and onion rings in two bags.
The onion rings were freshly made and still hot. The dip was also good and it was quite a large portion of dipp for so few onion rings. The burger itself was in a bag and it also had a paper around it to prevent too much leakage when eating it and that was great as it was juicy. The bread was excellent as it felt fresh and it was soft. The burger was juicy and even if it didn’t look medium it was still great. I would have enjoyed even more taste of blue cheese but there was a nice balance between the blue cheese and honey taste.
Conclusion: Birger Burger gets two thumbs up from me. I think it would have been great if they had a few chairs in the small restaurant but I guess most people just grab the burgers and go. But I will definitely go back to try the other burgers that they have on the menu.
Check out their menu on http://www.birger.no/. A burger starts at about 100 Kroner (12 USD)

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Døgnvill burger: Good burgers but a few isues with the side dishes

When Døgvill Bar & Burger first opened in Stavanger, I checked them out and I was not that impressed. After this I have been wanting to go there many times to check them out again but it has become so popular that it has been tricky to get a table there without booking in advance.  But on a weekday in July we managed to get the last available table (at 5 PM).
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The table that we got was more of a bar table with bar stools so not the most comfortable seating. The menus were on the table as they also act as paper place mats. It didn’t take long for the waiter came to take our order and we decided to check out a classic burger and Saucy Joe as well as coleslaw, onion rings and French fries.
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The place was pretty busy so it took about 25 minutes before the food was served. Well, we got the burgers, french fries and coleslaw but the onion rings were not served. The burgers seemed to have lightly fried buns and the classic came with onion, tomato and green salad while the pickle was served on the side. The burger was fried to medium just like the waiter had suggested.  I had the Saucy Joe which had a great sauce of cheddar, parmesan and jalapenos (so it had just a little sting) and it came with bacon, fried onion and salad. All it all a very good burger and I was more impressed with it this time compared to when I ate there originally. The coleslaw was good with large chunks of the vegetables. The French fries was a bit of a let down – the fries seemed lukewarm like they were not quite fresh and that was a shame as they came with parmesan and bacon and could have been great. At 60 kroner (7 USD) they should get them right. The chili mayonnaise on the side was good and had a pretty good sting. 10 minutes after we got the burgers we finally got the onion rings – we were almost done with the burger at this point so their timing was not very good. The onion rings were good and seemed to be fresh out of the fryer.
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All in all Døgnvill serves a pretty good burger and even if they messed up the fries and served the onion rings 10 minutes late. So if you are craving a burger, Døgvill is worth a visit. Just make sure to book a table before you head over there. You can check out Døgnvill Burger on this page.
gardkarlsen.com – trip reports and pictures

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Villa 22 Trattoria & Bar–new Italian place downtown

We were on our way to another restaurant when we walked past the brand new Villa 22 Trattoria & Bar! We like to think that we are on top of what is happening in Stavanger but we did not know that this Italian restaurant had opened. We went in to check out the menu and we decided to check it out. It turned out that they had opened that very day at lunch time!

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The restaurant occupies both the ground floor and the first floor. The first thing that catches the eye when you enter the restaurant is the orange domed wood fired pizza oven imported from Italy. We first got a table on the ground floor but we were quickly moved upstairs. It was easy to see that the place had just opened – there was hardly any decoration on the walls, no sun screening on the huge windows, toilets where the neighbors could see in due to no curtains etc. But I assume that these are things that the management will look into when they get some feedback.

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The menu seemed quite limited at first glance with only three starters, three main dishes and five pizzas. We decided to go for chefs special – a sort of tasting menu. We also ordered a bottle of red wine and the waitress seemed to struggle quite a bit to open it. She was wandering around with the bottle and when she finally got it open she was so stressed out that she didn’t offer us to taste it and there were also a few cork floaters in the wine glasses.

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The starters were served relatively fast and we got bread in a big, old measuring scoop, olive oil, a plank of cheese and salami and a couple of pastes served in Odd Standard tableware – it is great to see that the restaurant is using local products! We asked a bit about the plank of cheese and meat. Mostly because Nikki is lactose intolerant and we appreciate recommendations on the eating order. Although we were quickly enlightened that the cheese was cow milk based, there was some hesitation regarding the ham. We took an educated guess and they did get back to us in the end - it was a type of chorizo, coppa and parma ham – so pretty safe choices. What type of cheese we were actually served remains a mystery. The service in general was excellent – attentive and enthusiastic – but they will need to improve their knowledge of what they are serving. The pork and duck fat mash was good with the toast and yet surprisingly not a defined flavor as expected. Both of us kept on dipping the toast and smearing the bread with the spicy salami mash – definitely a winner for us.

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The starters were followed by a sharing sized plate with small tomatoes. I’m pretty sure that the tomatoes were local (Hanasand maybe) and they were quite tasty! It was served on top of a white spread and we asked the guy who served it what it was. He suggested risotto and we said “no, this is not risotto”. Maybe it was burrata. Regardless this was a simple dish which highlighted the naturally tasty ingredients.

The next dish was a lightly smoked carpaccio with parmesan cheese and capers. Again, simple and letting the ingredients speak for themselves. The carpaccio could perhaps have been sliced into smaller pieces, making it easier for more people to share.

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It was time to move on to the main dishes. The first warm dish we got was a pizza margarita. We only got half which seemed a bit weird based on the half-finished presentation. Nonetheless, the pizza margarita was excellent! Neapolitan style airy and easy to slice and chew crust; the kind of buffalo mozzarella that holds its consistency even when you leave your pizza to get cold; and creamy tomato sauce that complemented the rest. After a while the waitress came to serve the next dish and she presented … pizza margarita! I’m not sure what happened there. Were we supposed to get a different pizza? Or should we not have gotten pizza part 2? The second pizza margarita was even better and looked like it was the one we should originally have been served – based on the better presentation.

The next main dish was a bean cassoulet. Not exactly a dish that hurtles me back to lazy days in Tuscany but a solid, very tasty dish and the salty pork meat worked great with it.

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At this stage we were both feeling quite satisfied but not overly full. We had enjoyed the rest of the wine and were tempted to ask for the spicy chorizo paste recipe. We rounded off the meal by having tiramisu and lemon curd/meringue dish. The tiramisu was not that great – a bit dry and not as rich in flavor as I prefer them to be. However, the lemon curd/meringue dish was an explosion of tastes. The lemon sorbet looked like beaten egg whites to start with! It was fluffy and the taste was heavenly. The lemon curd and Italian style meringue rounded off the experience.

As we were waiting for the check we could smell some smoke and all of a sudden the fire alarm went off. We were told that it was a false alarm and that we didn’t have to evacuate. I guess this summarizes the evening in a way. The service from the wait staff was exceptional but they still have a few kinks to sort out, which was understandable as it was opening night. We look forward to trying the restaurant again in the near future and I hope that they can keep up the standard and not fall into the trap of becoming a low budget diner that serves the people that are visiting the bars in the vicinity.

The meal that we had was about 2000 Norwegian kroner (250 USD) with a prosecco aperitif and a bottle of red wine.

Second visit – lunch in the sun

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We did end up having a sun filled lunch at Villa 22 a few days later. Summer came to Stavanger and we indulged by having pizza in their outdoor seating. When summer comes to Stavanager, finding a spot downtown to eat some lunch is almost impossible but the staff made it happen and we were quickly seated at the table of our choice. The lunch menu also had sharing / tasting menu options. We had the pizza marinara and a parma pizza. You have to give them credit for being brave enough to offer an anchovy pizza. Both met expectation from our previous experience. Dessert was a double espresso and the lemon curd/meringue dish. The sorbet was served a little more rustic and the consistency was a little more compact this time but certainly Nikki’s new favorite. Service was still excellent and we shall certainly be returning to share a meal with friends.

gardkarlsen.com – trip reports and pictures