It's official! This year, Norway enjoyed its wettest summer since records began in 1900. Roads and railways have been washed away, houses have been flooded. The rain has been biblical, I tell you! So far, the deluge has continued into autumn and there appears to be no sign of it abating. So it seemed like no small miracle that for one sweet, glorious day last weekend the clouds retreated and out came the sun, shining warm and bright.
I always think days like these call for some sort of seafood, preferably to be eaten within a stone's throw of a large body of water and ideally accompanied by some decent wine. So it was that we headed to Strand restaurant in Bærum, a suburb of Oslo, located in a secluded spot with sweeping views over the Oslo Fjord.
The restaurant first opened in 1924, but the building itself dates back to the 18th Century. In 2010, three of Norway's leading chefs, Tom Victor Gausdal, Erling Sundal, and Stian Floer, took over the running of the restaurant and it underwent a much needed renovation. The three chefs all have considerable and varied experience gained from some top restaurants and cooking competitions such as the prestigious Bocuse d'Or (Norwegian chefs really seem to love cooking competitions for some reason). Their cooking style focuses on the use of natural and mostly Norwegian produce. A rectangular slate next to your plate is inscribed with the "ten commandments" of Strand's food manifesto, proclaiming things like their prohibition of white sugar, force-fed animals and artificial additives.
Joël Robuchon's version to shame. A much needed watercress, rocket, and radish salad cut through that richness nicely, while a soy and shallot dressing added some oomph. It was all really rather delicious.
To finish our meal, a cup of coffee and a slice of suksessterte (NKr 65 / €8.40). This cake is very popular in Norway and is made from ground almonds, sugar and egg white. The characteristic yellow topping is made from vanilla custard and butter. It's definitely one of my favourite Norwegian cakes and luckily (for me) is a speciality of my mother-in-law.
Lunch at Strand was all good. It's a place you'd want to come back to, and is exactly the sort of place you'd happily while away a warm sunny day. Service throughout was a real joy too. And, given that we had the two young Nibbler girls in tow, our server really went above and beyond the call of duty to keep them happy.
I guess the days of long weekend lunches in the sun are gone for this year, but I had a glimpse of Strand's multi-course evening menu and it looks fantastic. I'm definitely coming back to try it and look forward to seeing what the chefs can really do.
Food: 7 / 10
Service: 10 / 10
Ambiance: 8 / 10
Tel: +47 67 53 05 75