22 March 2011

Fiskeriet, Oslo - Restaurant Review

Erling Moe was once an Oslo institution. This venerable fishmonger was located at the foot of Norway's first 'skyscraper' – the imposing Folketeater building – and it sold some of Norway's finest seafood for over 70 years. Sadly, like many of the small speciality food stores in Oslo, the inevitable march of modernisation forced the shop to close in 2009. For a city that once boasted over 75 fishmongers it was the end of an era, and only a tiny handful of independent fish shops survive today.

Rather fortuitously, though, out of these ashes rose a new style of fish shop. The building's current owners tasked the then 26-year-old fishmonger, Eivind Hermansen, with opening up a new generation of fish shop on the same premises. In the summer of 2010 Fiskeriet opened to much fanfare. Fishing forms an integral part of Norway's identity and history, and is one of the country's biggest exports (it sure tastes a lot better than crude oil). And such is fishing's importance that none other than the Fisheries Minister herself cut the ribbon to officially open Fiskeriet.

On entering the shop you're immediately confronted with a dazzling array of Norway's finest seafood. Huge slabs of cod, sparkling mackerel, halibut steaks, king crab, and more lay glistening on crushed ice. But I wasn't here just for raw fish; I wanted someone to cook it for me too. One end of the shop has been expanded to include a 'matbaren' – a small bar-style seating area – from which you can select from half a dozen or so lunchtime dishes such as fish stew, steamed mussels, and Norwegian fish cakes. The place is licensed too, so you can wash it all down with a glass of cool, buttery white Burgundy.
I had initially ordered a comforting bowl of fish stew, but on seeing two huge plates of fish & chips come out of the kitchen I suffered a major case of food envy and changed my order. And I'm mightily glad I did. Served on a faux-newspaper page printed with titbits of information on Erling Moe and Fiskeriet was a dish of fish & chips that would fit right in with Britain's finest. At NKr. 119 (€15 / $21) it's not bad value either.

Impeccably fresh haddock was encased in a light and crisp batter. Chunks of pearl white flesh flaking satisfyingly under knife and fork. Alongside this were some decent tartare sauce and a pickled onion. Proper Sarson's malt vinegar added that authentic acidity and brought a broad smile to my face. The only let down was the chips, which seemed to be of the generic and bland pre-frozen type that you find in every motorway café in Norway. I was hoping for something a bit more interesting, but then I suppose this place is predominantly a fishmonger. Anyway, the chips were much improved by a liberal dollop of rather excellent Stokes tomato ketchup.

Fiskeriet is a great place for a quickish lunch in Oslo. The lunch bar gives you the perfect vantage point from which to observe the fishmongers at work. I happily watched as they cleaned, filleted and skinned fish, and chatted pleasantly with customers, all the while enjoying some decent seafood and wine. Yes there may now be fewer fishmongers in Oslo, but what the city has lost in terms of quantity it certainly seems to be making up for it in quality.

Food:         7 / 10
Service:      8 / 10
Ambiance:  7 / 10

Fiskeriet Youngstorget
Youngstorget 2b
0181 Oslo
Tel: +47 22 42 45 40

There is another branch of Fiskeriet located at Willy Greinersvei 22 in Sandvika, but this is just a pure fishmonger and does not have a restaurant.

1 comment:

  1. We have been there for two weeks ago. The food was simly excelent!