13 January 2014

2013: My Ten Dishes of the Year

It may well be the second week of January 2014, but I'm not quite done with 2013 yet. Continuing my tradition of looking back at the most memorable restaurant dishes I had over the year. I thought I'd give you the run down of the ten best things I ate in a restaurant in 2013. I planned to publish this last month but, you know, stuff happened to conspire otherwise. In fact, looking back at the year it was a pretty thin one for the blog. I had some cracking meals, but never got round to writing all the stuff I wanted to. So, New Year's resolution No. 1 is to try and post a bit more often.

Anyway, in reverse order the ten best things I ate in a restaurant in 2013 are: 

8 October 2013

Nydalen Bryggeri & Spiseri, Oslo – Restaurant Review

Over the last year or so Oslo has seen some great new restaurant openings. Although there's still a long way to go before Oslo catches up with its Scandinavian neighbours, it's finally starting to feel like Oslo is getting a restaurant scene befitting its status as Norway's capital. One very recent addition to the city's dining scene is Nydalen Bryggeri & Spiseri that opened in Oslo's Nydalen neighbourhood in August 2013.

Running Nydalen Bryggeri are the team behind Oslo's Amundsen Brewery who have turned the site of a former Bølgen & Moi restaurant into a vast temple to zythology (yeah, I had to look that one up too), serving a wide variety of beers as well as robust fare for lunch and dinner, with many of the dishes made with their own beer.

26 September 2013

Fauna, Oslo – Restaurant Review

When Oslo's Oscarsgate shut its doors for good at the end of last year, a collective sigh of disappointment could be heard from the city's food lovers. Not only had the Norwegian capital lost another of its precious few Michelin-starred restaurant, but it was also unclear as to when or where we'd see Swedish head chef Björn Svensson in a kitchen again.

The demise of the Oscarsgate was fairly abrupt. In September 2011 the restaurant announced that it was looking for new, larger premises – not a bad thing at all given the old Oscarsgate dining room was of a size that even the slickest of estate agents would euphemistically call 'cosy.' It was indeed minuscule, and you were forever being bumped by passing waiters and moving your chair to allow someone at the neighbouring table to go to the loo. But the food; oh the food! Svensson's cooking combined an eclectic mix of Norwegian produce that was reconstructed in a vibrant, modern way, clearly drawing on his experience from stints at El Bulli and Gordon Ramsay's Royal Hospital Road.

18 September 2013

Smalhans, Oslo – Restaurant Review

Smalhans has been on my radar since they opened in late 2012. The thought of a small neighbourhood restaurant serving a weekly-changing menu of no-nonsense dishes at a very agreeable price should have been enough to immediately pique anyone's interest. I kept on hearing good things about this restaurant and I kept meaning to go but, you know, stuff got in the way. And after my first meal there recently, I'm kicking myself for not going sooner. Better late than never, I guess, because Smalhans is utterly fantastic!

13 September 2013

Taste of China, Oslo – Restaurant Review

One of the things I miss most about living in London is the sheer variety of global cuisine on offer. Whether it's a bowl of steaming hot phở, a garlicky hummus Beiruti with freshly baked flat bread, or some fiercely spiced jerk chicken. In London, it seems, you can have it all, and usually at a price that won't break the bank.

But perhaps the thing I miss most is my tradition of Sunday dim sum; it's what Sundays were made for in my opinion. Wake up late (we're talking pre kids here), grab my favourite section of The Sunday Times, head over to Royal China on Baker Street and settle in with some green tea while contemplating the array of steamed delights on offer.

9 September 2013

Oud Sluis, Sluis – Restaurant Review

Sergio Herman doesn't look like your average Michelin-starred chef. That intense, somewhat ill-tempered demeanour is there – the one often typical of people that strive daily for absolute perfection in their craft. As is the precise and confident way he moves in the kitchen while barking out orders from the pass. No, it's something else that seems to be at odds with my mental image of 'Michelin-starred chef.'

Tanned and sporting a six o'clock shadow, his angular features with piercing hazel eyes give him more the look of a Hollywood matinée idol, while a fashion model/TV presenter wife completes the picture. His self-published multimedia "art-object-book," 'Sergiology,' "relates to everything that made me what I am today," and he even has his own magazine, 'Sergio,' where you can read articles about Sergio's childhood and what he likes to eat and drink during the day (a jitter-inducing eight espressos if you're interested).

1 September 2013

Maaemo, Oslo – Restaurant Review (Aug '13)

Another look at Maaemo, you say? I know, I've already written plenty about this, the most glittering of Oslo's Michelin-starred restaurants, so what's left to be said, right? Well, having first eaten at Maaemo just after they opened almost three years ago I've simply been amazed at how each and every meal there has moved the game forward – an interpretation of Norwegian terroir unlike anything I've seen before.

Certainly there's no sign of Maaemo resting on the laurels of the two Michelin stars they were awarded just 15 months after opening. It's full steam ahead and the pace of development in the kitchen is breathtaking. It's therefore perhaps interesting to reflect on how the trajectory of head chef and co-owner Esben Holmboe Bang's cooking has progressed since three guys got together with the idea of opening Norway's first fine-dining restaurant based solely on organic or bio-dynamic produce.

7 June 2013

La Grenouillère, La Madeleine-sous-Montreuil – Restaurant Review

To paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of the demise of French haute cuisine are greatly exaggerated. In fact, it would appear that the upper echelons of French cooking are alive and well and capable of producing modern, inventive, and exciting food. Behold exhibit 'A' for the defence: the mesmerising and wilfully eccentric La Grenouillère in La Madelaine-sous-Montreuil.

4 March 2013

Maaemo, Oslo – Restaurant Review (Jan '13)

(A more recent review of Maaemo can be found here)

Regular readers of my blog (hello, Mum) will know that I am more than somewhat enamoured by this utterly captivating restaurant. Indeed, Maaemo has been the location for some of the greatest meals of my life, and since it opened just over two years ago its food has unequivocally topped my annual list of the 10 Best Restaurant Dishes.

28 January 2013

Inn i Granskauen — An Evening in the Norwegian Forest

The instructions in the email were intriguingly vague. "Take the subway at 18:06 from Oslo Central Station all the way to Voksenkollen" – some twenty stops and 500 vertical metres away, and roughly where the compact urban-ness of Oslo gives way to the vast expanse of wooded hills that is Oslomarka.

Oslomarka is the Norwegian capital's playground. It's here where impressively fit Osloites come to walk, cycle and ski and generally rekindle their bond with nature, a bond that seems to be so deeply ingrained in the Norwegian DNA. But tonight the 30 people huddled in the train carriage are in for a different sort of experience. We're here for a very special culinary adventure indeed.

...read the full article on Food Studio's website here.