Traditional food at City Bistro

If you have read this blog, you will see that there are not that many places in Stavanger that serves Norwegian food. Maybe because traditional Norwegian food can be a bit bland and hence people like to make it at home instead of paying for it at a restaurant. But we do have some good traditional Christmas food and many restaurants in town focus on this in November and December. One of the restaurants that maybe does this best is City Bistro. Located on Madlaveien, it is a bit outside the city center of Stavanger and I don’t really think about it when I try to come up with restaurants to visit in downtown. But in November and December, City Bistro shines as it brings out the good Norwegian Christmas food and drinks.

The restaurant is split up in several floors and downstairs there is a la carte restaurant. On the upper floors there are private rooms that you can rent, and this is what we did in November. We were 10 colleagues that decided to enjoy some lutefisk (lye fish) and pinnekjøtt. The private room that we got had a large square table and the interior is like taken out of an old cabin. We had booked the food in advance as we were 10 and that makes it easier to serve all at once. But before we got the food we were offered akevitt (or aquavit), the Scandinavian spirit that is usually made from potatoes (at least in Norway) and flavored with various herbs. They also had a good selection of local craft beer including Lervig and Jåttå Gårdsbryggeri and of course a selection of juleøl (Christmas ale).

I had decided to have lutefisk as a starter and this is a dish that many people have an opinion about. It is made from dried/salted cod (klippfisk or tørrfisk) but it is treated with lye which can give it a gelatinous texture if it has been treated too much. I think City Bistro does it just right and they also seem to use good quality fish. The fish was served with a mash of peas, potatoes, bacon and mustard sauce. In addition to this we also got brown goat cheese (which is delicious by the way) to sprinkle on top.

After the starter we got a palate cleanser which was basically a aquavit ice cream. And it seemed like the chef had been generous with the aquavit! As a main meal I had ordered pinnekjøtt. Pinnekjøtt is salted and dried lamb ribs and it is a traditional Christmas meal for about 30-40% of all Norwegians on Christmas eve. The lamb ribs are sold dried and you must soak them in water for 1-2 days depending on how salty they are. The dish at City Bistro was served in a traditional way with potatoes, mashed rutabaga and just juices from the cooking process. It was quite a big portion and the ribs contained lots of meat, but they were a bit too salty in my opinion.

To end the meal, we got another traditional Norwegian dish: riskrem with berry sauce. Riskrem is a mix of cold rice porridge mixed with whipped cream, so it is quite a rich dessert. This riskrem was a bit on the firm side but it was very good indeed.

Conclusion: if you come to Stavanger in the months from October to February, get in touch with City Bistro and see what they can organize for you! You might be able to taste some very good traditional Norwegian food – and food that is more or less impossible to find at other restaurants in Stavanger. If you are lucky you can even convince them to prepare a smalahove (half a head of lamb) for you: ;-)

Location: Madlaveien 18 - see Google map

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