26 North Restaurant & Social Club

April 1st 2016 was a typical spring day in Stavanger and we made a dinner reservation at the relatively new restaurant 26 North Restaurant & Social Club. The restaurant is located in the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel, in more or less downtown Stavanger. We had a reservation for 5.30 PM as we were going to a show at Stavanger konserthus later that evening. When we came in, we were taken to our table by a friendly waiter that preferred to address us in English and we were fine with that. The online booking system bookatable worked great for booking a table by the way.
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26North has joined the trend of being inspired by the cuisine of the Nordic countries and tries to make the dishes based on locally sourced products. A great concept and it has been a trend for a few years now. The menu was impressive, as it contains quite a lot of starters – ideal if you just want to stop by with some friends and share a few dishes. The menu was descriptive and also contained information about allergens – excellent! We decided to go for 4 starters and skip the main meal as we thought the starters looked more interesting. The waiter seemed to think this was a reasonable choice and was attentive enough to suggest splitting it up into two batches for us – which was handy as the table was a bit small, so we would probably not have had enough space for all 4 dishes on the table at the same time.
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On the table to start with we had a pitcher of water and we also got a small loaf of freshly baked inhouse bread with a delicious butter and creamy aioli. The first two starters came relatively quickly – Norwegian crab spring rolls and a bucket of handpicked mussels. The crab spring rolls were served with a sweet and sour sauce and a carrot, coconut and sesame salad. The spring rolls were warm so it seemed like they came right from deep frying. The pastry was rather thick and not much crab meat. The sweet and sour sauce was a balanced accompaniment but the carrot salad needed a little less sesame and little more livening up. The mussels were served in a small bucket, sprinkled with garlic chips and accompanied by mash of salt baked avocado. The spare bucket for the empty shells was convenient. All in all presentation of the food was excellent as it came on a warm wooden platter etc to give you the link to the Nordic nature. The mussels were steamed well and tasty but maybe a tad bit on the dry side. The garlic chips were certainly a favourite for us – crispy and smoky. We slurped up the juices the mussels were steamed in, which came across as rather salty but this may have been due to the salt baked avocado. I think I would have preferred the avocado to be served plain or with lime zest to counter the saltiness of the mussels.
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The next round of starters was sliding moose and fish & chips. The fish & chips came in a small box with two pieces of fried cod, French fries, a chunck of lemon and the house tartar sauce. It also came with a mini-bottle of vinegar to spray the fish and chips according to one’s liking. Again the fish was straight out of deep fryer with a nice crust and the cod inside could have been a bit more tender and separated more gently than flaky. The fresh french fries were excellent, maybe even twice baked. The house tartar sauce was just the right dip, with lots of taste of the capers in it. I think the “sliding moose” was the best dish of our 4 starters. The 3 moose sliders had a good chunk of braised tasty white goat cheese on top. The sliders were just the right size mouthfuls and the meat seemed to be served medium but certainly not overcooked. The wooden serving plate was warm with a side of onion compote, that that had a good taste of honey. The pickled mushroom strewn on the plate, gave the right body to the slider – a bit of needed sourness but not squishy drowned in vinegar mushroom consistency.
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I also had to try out dessert – after all I do have a sweet tooth. On the menu they had 4 different desserts – and you could even get a combination of these. I decided to go for the combination of all the dessert. Again the presentation was great. The chocolate tower was tasty with 4 layers of chocolate cake varieties and served with passion fruit dots that had an incredible sour sting to it – it worked perfect with the chocolate cake. There was also a kumquat that came along with the chocolate but that didn’t really fit in there, if you ask me. I also got a mille-feuille which is puff pastry served with cream of different kinds. In Norway the most common version of this dessert is the Napoleon cake. This mille-feuille had a lovely taste of cherry and the puff pastry was quite thin and delicate. And it was served with an awesome sea buckthorn curd! The last dessert was apple and cinnamon strudel served with vanilla ice cream and small caramel drops. The vanilla ice and the caramel drops were excellent but the portion of apple strudel was a bit too much even if it was served nice and warm.
We had high expectations for this place. The interior is modern and new, the service was refreshingly good and the different food that was served was presented (and explained) in a beautiful way. I think we will have to go back to try it out again with some friends so that we can taste some other starters as well as some main dished to reach a final conclusion. The food was good but we were not blown away by the various dishes that we had this time. The potential is there and I look forward to trying it out again.
Read more about the restaurant and see the menu on the restaurant 26North homepage.
gardkarlsen.com – trip reports and pictures
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