Spiseriet –the new Stavanger concert house’s dining spot

P1010438The new Stavanger Konserthus (the new concert house) officially opened in September 2012 and in the same building, they opened a new restaurant in town called Spiseriet. We decided to check it out in connection with celebrating our wedding anniversary and I booked a table online on http://spiseriet.no/bordbestilling/. It is still early days for the new concert house so there are lot of events and there were concerts going on when we got to the restaurant at about 7.30 PM on a Saturday night. P1010441The restaurant is located in the lobby area of the concert house which has both positive and negative sides. It is a pretty open layout and with the big window façade, you get an amazing view of the Stavanger harbor area and a genuine feel of a lively arena. We managed to be seated around sunset, and we were lucky with the weather. But with the open layout you also face challenges when it comes to the music from the concert arenas, crowds walking past etc.
P1010442When we arrived I had to wait a bit as there was no one to welcome us to take us to our table. We were taken to a table that was set up for 4 persons which I found a bit odd as I had booked a table to just 2 people and there were other tables setup for 2 people. My wife wondered if we should request a table near the window, to better enjoy the view but we figured there might also be a draft so class to the windows. P1010443The menu was already on the table and in connection with the opening they have a 4 course menu and we decided to go for 4 courses with paired wine. The only problem was that no one came to take our order – I think we sat there for 10-15 minutes and no one came over to say hello and welcome, to ask us if we wanted an aperitif, if we wanted some bread to nibble on etc. After we had waited a while we realized that we had to take action to actually get to order some food so I tried to send some discreet signals to one of the waitresses. In the end a Danish waitress came over to take our order and as the menu was not that detailed we asked questions about the ingredients of some of the dishes as Nikki has some lactose issues. Our waitress seemed a bit uncomfortable with the situation and later on she told us that this was a first time for her so she was a bit insecure about the whole process. Which was a bit disappointing – there was only one menu that evening and she had to enquire with the kitchen when Nikki made enquiries about the soup.
P1010444After we had placed our order another waiter came over to us to ask us if we had placed our order so it seemed like there are some communication issues at the restaurant. We did get some bread to nibble on in the end and the first dish that was served for me was a creamy mushroom soup served with some toast pieces and parmesan cheese on the side (or actually on top). The soup was maybe not as creamy as I would have liked it to be but it contained some nice chunks of mushroom and it was served hot. I was not too keen on the choice of sparkling Spanish wine Anna De Condorniu for the soup – I would have preferred it as an aperitif.
P1010446The next dish was scallops with paella. It was served in a strange plate and to start with it looked like there was foam in the middle but it was just the plate that had a dome in the middle. The scallops were served warm, braised to perfection and just the right consistency (not rubbery/overcooked) and their twist on a traditional paella was, for lack of a better word, exquisite! The paella was rich, with a lemony/lime undertone and a pasta like consistency. This time the accompanying wine Condes de Albarei Albariño was spot on.
P1010447The main dish was lamb and it was served in two parts: one plate with a lemon/thyme/garlic mayonnaise and a small pot next to it. The small pot contained pieces of lamb, potatoes, cabbage and a rich sauce. The lamb was excellent – very tender so obviously cooked for a long time, quite hot and perfectly paired with the mayonnaise on the plate. The wine was Louis Jadot Bourgogne Convent des Jacobins Rouge which I enjoyed.
P1010449The dessert was a frozen cheese cake served with a generous chunk of stirred raspberries and an even more generous portion of Fleur de Cap Noble Late Harvest (and as I love the sweet dessert wines I did not mind that at all). The frozen cheese cake was sweet and it was delectably balanced by the tanginess of the frozen raspberries.
P1010451Conclusion: The first impression of the restaurant was not very good at all. We had a less than warm welcome; we waited a solid 15 minutes (with no bread/water/apertiff served) before anyone took our order. But when we did get to order and they started serving, the food turned out to be quite a culinary experience. The staff also seemed to be more attentive once contact was established as even the maître D came over to replace the knife Nikki accidently dropped. Although my wife and some friends had a light dinner here during the soft opening, and had a lovely evening with few hiccups (coffee and the bill), it seems there are still some other basic issues that need to be resolved here. Getting the bill also took quite a while and when I did get it, it was not correct but before I could point it out the waiter was gone and I had to wait for another few minutes to get it corrected. But I would love to go back when things are flowing better and they have introduced a more extensive menu.
P1010452During the meal there were various levels of noise coming from the concert arenas and also announcements over the loudspeakers about start of the different events so I’m not sure this is the best place for a romantic and quiet dinner. Which is a contrast seeing as the menu that evening was more suited to our needs. There was a varied crowd of guests – concert goers; couples on dates; double dates; and larger groups (8-14) of colleagues and friends. The décor was in line with the first floor of the concert house – modern industrial (?). The table and chairs were notably a nice height – although I didn’t find the chairs to be that comfortable. The lighting was rather harsh – with spotlights directly over each table. During our meal the lights were dimmed and then reset and just as we were paying, all the restaurant lights went off. That night there seemed to be no option for drinks in the bar but if you take the stairs up one floor, there was a bar with a spectacular harbor view.
The 4 course set dinner was 495 Norwegian kroner (about 85 USD) and the wine pairing was 455 Norwegian Kroner (about 80 USD). You can read more about the restaurant on http://spiseriet.no/ but at the moment it seems like it is only in Norwegian.
http://gardkarlsen.com – trip reports and pictures

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