Sampling the local cuisine is something that’s always pretty high on my to do list. You never know what kind of tasty gems you are going to discover. I had absolutely no idea what Norwegian food was going to consist of but I have to say I was happily surprised. I don’t think I had one bad meal and some of them were simply marvellous. This is what I learnt:
#1. Viltgryte from Rorbua
As I made my way through a few Oslo restaurant reviews, I soon realised reindeer was the Norwegian delicacy I was going to be trying. After a bit of a search, my flatmate came across Rorbua online. It was a restaurant by the harbour which served reindeer and moose stew- otherwise known as Viltgryte- for about £20, a pretty standard price in Oslo. I’ve discovered that stews seem to be a staple of many countries’ diets. That’s fine with me because I love a good stew. We ordered ours alongside a small a Mystic Arctic beer- the first beer to make it to the North Pole, apparently. It had to be small as that’s all we could afford and we were served it in a wine glass.
The stew itself was amazing, although I had no idea which meat was which. One fell apart in your mouth more while the other was tougher with a stronger flavour. We both preferred the former. Having said that, some chunks of meat fell in between those two descriptions. One piece tasted decidedly like venison- perhaps that was the reindeer. The stew came alongside some creamy mash (which I would have liked more of to soak up the sauce) and lingonberries. It was all amazing but I couldn’t help but think it would have been even better with some chunky chips.
As if the tasty stew and the kind of cosy, ship-inspired decor wasn’t enough, this restaurant also offers a 20% to holders of the Oslo Pass. There’s not really much of a reason not to go.
#2. Salmon and board games at Elias Mat & Sant
We went to Elias, Mat & Sant having read that it did an amazing reindeer stew, only to find that it was no longer on the menu (perhaps it’s a seasonal thing). After pouring over the menu, I decided to go for mussels. They sounded good, Norway seems big on seafood and they were one of the cheapest options. My flatmate however decided to splash out a few extra £s (it was about £20) and go for the salmon and, on reflection, I decided to follow suit. Salmon seemed to be served everywhere in Oslo and I was supposed to be getting down with the local cuisine after all.
Usually I’m not much of a salmon person, unless it’s smoked. I just don’t think it has that much flavour. Thankfully that was not the case here. My oven baked salmon came alongside some tomato sauce with fennel, small potatoes and vegetables and the combination was amazing. Really amazing. What made it even better was the range of board games on offer. Although Cluedo would have been great, since there were only two of us, we went with Scrabble. There were a few Scandinavian letters in there but we made it work. It turns out that I am really bad at Scrabble but it was still a great dinner accompaniment.
#3. Open sandwiches and marzipan cake from the Folk Museum cafe
Open sandwiches seem to be a big thing in Oslo. After our trip to the Folk Museum, my flatmate and I popped by the cafe. We were blitzing museums and needed some refreshments. Although some of the other options looked tastier, I decided to go with the salmon and egg open sandwich. It still looked good and I figured I should go for a Norwegian staple. It was pretty good (although I think I prefer my sandwiches closed) but that was not the triumph of this particular lunchtime.
Whilst I was meant to be saving money, the cakes on display looked insanely good. There was absolutely no way I could pass them by. The marzipan slice stood out above the rest. I don’t really like marzipan but it looked worth the risk. It was worth every penny. The marzipan taste wasn’t particularly strong and the layers of cake, cream and icing blended together and basically melted in my mouth. I would walk back to Oslo for another one of those bad boys.
#4. Breads and pastries from bakeries
One of the tips I was given before I went to Oslo was to eat in bakeries. Food in Oslo is just plain old expensive but at least breads and pastries would be cheaper than restaurant meals.
On my first morning in the city, my flatmate and I stumbled across a Baker Hansen (which turned out to be a chain of bakeries). We were looking for breakfast and this seemed like the perfect option. I scanned the breads and pastries and spotted a Scandanavian-looking option called Skolebolle- a breaded ring covered in coconut flakes and with a custard centre. I felt like I should go for something local and that looked about right. Then I spotted the Kanelbolle (aka a cinnamon bun) and it’s good looks trumped the Skolebolle (see this articles featured image above). It was a great option for between £2-£3 (from what I remember). We planned for Baker Hansen to become our regular breakfast haunt but sadly it turned out to be closed on Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays. That was our first and last visit.
Instead, on Sunday, we ended up at Kaffebrenneriet (another chain) down by the harbour. Due to the lack of Skolebolle, I once again picked out a Kanelbolle. It wasn’t as good as the one at Baker Hansen but you just can’t go wrong with cinnamon buns. I also had an Earl Grey tea which was a amazing as I hadn’t had tea in at least 36 hours. Probably more. Times were tough. The whole thing cost me between £4-£5. The next morning, we went back to Kaffebrenneriet, partly because it was good and partly because it was one of the few places still open. This time, I decided to go for something new and settled on Bringebærbolle- a bread covered in lumps of sugar. Oh, was I in for a lovely surprise. As I pulled the bread apart, I found a hollow centre, filled with raspberry jam. It was like some kind of breaded doughnut. Yum.
Finally, before I left the city, I stopped by a Deli de Luca, a chain of convenience type stores, selling baked goods, sweets and drinks. My flatmate and I had been here for lunch before (noodles and calzone). It was cheap-ish (relatively speaking) and the food was fine but not amazing. They did, however, do Skolebolle, so since this was my last chance I grabbed one. At first, I didn’t think it was anything special. The bread was quite dense and the coconut didn’t give it loads of flavour. Then I got a bit of custard and that changed. It turns out, Skolebolle is another option worth a try.