Theatrecafeen Oslo Anders Husa
to-eat list

Oslo

September 17th, 2018

BY Anders Husa

Oslo has experienced a food revolution in the last decade. Where its dining scene was long dominated by Italian and Asian cuisines, chefs nowadays are much more likely to look to Norwegian food traditions or rediscover age-old techniques such as salting, drying, fermenting and curing to be utilised in exciting new ways. In recent years, being affordable and available seemed to be the recipe for success and fine dining, in the classical sense of the word, became practically extinct. In Oslo, the neighbourhood restaurant has never been hotter.

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Fine Dining

Maaemo

The three-starred pride of Norway

The most progressive and exciting restaurant in Oslo, Maaemo is also the pride of Norway. Dining here is to experience the Norwegian food landscape through purely organic, locally-sourced and seasonal produce created using age-old preservation processes alongside modern cooking techniques. Ironically, the name is a Finnish word meaning “mother earth” and head chef, Esben Holmboe Bang, is actually Danish but through his cooking, Holmboe Bang has re-invented traditional Norwegian dishes. 

Photo credit: Anders Husa

INSIDER TIP

Book the chefs table for a unique experience overlooking the busy Maaemo kitchen.

Local Speciality

Vaaghals

Keeping Norway’s food traditions alive

Enjoy the contrast of dining inside a wooden and steel fortress within Oslo’s contemporary Barcode Project area, overlooking Oslo’s opera house, all whilst eating a menu based on Norwegian food traditions. Vaaghals young chef and current captain of the national culinary team, Christer Rødseth, adds modern touches to hearty and rustic sharing meals.

Photo credit: Anders Husa

INSIDER TIP

Make sure to order the waffle snacks as well as homemade hams for a true taste of Norwegian tradition.

Local Speciality

Smalhans

Neighborhood eatery for all occasions

This locals restaurant, located in the St. Hanshaugen district, changes its concept throughout the day. Start your morning with coffee and cake then choose from a tapas-style lunch menu. From 16:00 onwards there’s a traditional daily special called Dagens husmannskost, and then between 16:00-18:00 you can enjoy a tasting menu based largely on Norwegian ingredients. The cheaper option is called Smalhans (an old German-Norwegian term meaning “poverty”), whilst the larger is dubbed King Croesus.

Photo credit: Anders Husa

INSIDER TIP

The daily special represents great value-for-money priced at a very modest NOK 175.

mon: 16:00-22:00TUE-WED: 16:00-00:00Thu-SAT: 11:00-00:00sun: 12:00-22:00
Worth the Hype

Katla

A legend is back in business

Pjoltergeist was considered an institution in Oslo before the team suddenly, and surprisingly, announced its doors would close for good after just five years. Now, Icelandic-born head chef, Atli Mar Yngvason, is back with Katla. On the menu are many of the same dishes that earned him fame and glory at Pjoltergeist such as his Takoyaki, as well as other newer creations. The kitchen is bigger and better equipped with a dedicated pestle & mortar station for making fresh guacamoles and ceviches, and there’s a big open fire which forms the warming core of the restaurant.

Photo credit: Anders Husa

INSIDER TIP

There’s a big walk-in area if you forget to book.

Baked Goods

Ille Brød

From home baking to city bakery

Martin Fjeld found his passion in life six years ago when he started making naturally leavened breads at home. Slowly and steadily his hobby turned into a business as people bought fresh bread subscriptions and his sought-after loaves started popping up on restaurant menus. Today he has his own sourdough bakery in which he still makes every bread by hand using ancient, local and heirloom grains such as emmer or Ølands wheat.

Photo credit: Anders Husa

INSIDER TIP

Follow @illebrod on Instagram to get news of their special pizza pop-ups.

Trailblazer

Brutus

Proud natural wine promoters

Whilst the natural wine trend has slowly gotten a grip on Oslo, most restaurants don’t talk too much about it. Restaurant Brutus, however, is promoting its natural wines more proudly and loudly than anyone else. Located in the up-and-coming Tøyen area of town, head chef Arnar Jakob Gudmundsson cooks up new-Nordic comfort food largely inspired by his upbringing in Iceland. His creativity means the food can be hit and miss at times but when it’s good, it’s really good. The flatkökur, a soft Icelandic flatbread served with slow-cooked red beets, seaweed and fresh cheese is a great example.

Photo credit: Anders Husa

INSIDER TIP

Check out their wine and cider bar next door called "Gurke Gurken Gurken Gurken".

Trailblazer

Bass

No concept is the new concept

Situated in the young and vibrant area of Grünerløkka with a minimalist, hipster-esque dining room decorated in raw concrete and light plywood, Bass is a food-serving wine bar. At least, that’s about as specific as they want to be in defining their own concept. The drink list features a mix of conventional wines alongside more funky, naturally fermented grape juices and concept or not, Bass’ food certainly has a recognizable style. Most dishes consist of a few local and seasonal ingredients presented simply and made to share.

Photo credit: Anders Husa

INSIDER TIP

Don’t miss the signature chicken "karaage" or taco tartare.

Market Experience

Mathallen

Oslo’s food Mecca

Every city of a certain size needs a food hall and Oslo has finally got its own. Mathallen is home to several great restaurants, deli shops, a specialized coffee bar (serving only black coffee, no milk), a craft beer bar, the city’s best butchers (Anni’s Pølsemakeri), several cheese shops, and the gastronomic institute, Kulinarisk Akademi.

Photo credit: Susanne Finnes

INSIDER TIP

Try the confit chicken sandwich at Stangeriet.

Breakfast

Supreme Roastworks

Pour-over coffee from a world champion

In the mid ’00s two guys started roasting coffee in a garage and supplying cafés in town with light-roasted, single origin, speciality coffee. Today, their shop is more than ten years old with a gold medal from the World’s Brewers Cup hanging on the wall. The hipster attitude is largely gone, and you can now safely order a coffee the way you like it. Supreme Roastworks represents the regular morning routine for a large part of the Grünerløkka neighborhood – start your day with one of their yogurts, homemade sandwiches, or a sweet banana cake.

INSIDER TIP

Check out summer specialities such as "Satans god iskaffe" (iced coffee) and "Supreme ice cream" (espresso soft-serve).

Chef's Choice

Le Benjamin

Paris in Oslo

When chefs and other industry people aren’t hanging out at the Territoriet wine bar just around the corner, you’ll probably find them at Le Benjamin along with a bunch of regulars. Booking is usually essential and even free seats in the walk-in area are a rare find. This French stronghold is all about hearty, unpretentious food. Order pleasing classics such as langoustine in butter and tarragon; pigeon with truffle potato purée, or a traditional tarte flambée.

INSIDER TIP

The set four-course menu is usually a great deal.

Chef's Choice

Arakataka

Trusted budget gourmet eatery

Arakataka offered affordable fine-dining long before it became a trend. The Nordic menu is made with local produce but with international touches – spaghetti with løyrom (vendace roe) is a classic example. Despite its impossible-to-spell name the restaurant is almost always fully booked with a clientele dominated largely by food industry folk. In 2016, the restaurant added a no reservations food and wine bar which is perfect for those evenings when you didn’t make plans or don’t want to sit down for a full dinner.

INSIDER TIP

On the on the bar menu don't miss the fermented celeriac bread with sour cream and løyrom.

SUN: 16:00-21:00MON-TUE: 16:00-22:00WED-SAT: 16:00-00:30
The Institution

Theatercaféen

History on the walls but modernity on the plate

Few places have such a loyal clientele or as much history in the walls as Theatercaféen. Built and later refurbished in beautiful Art Nouveau styles, the restaurant dates back to 1900 when it was especially famous for its lush sandwiches. These are still on the menu today, but luckily in more modernized versions. Hopefully Theatercaféen will continue to serve Oslo’s hungry citizens for at least another hundred years.

Photo credit: Anders Husa

INSIDER TIP

Treat yourself to dessert from the large cake and pastry buffet.

The Institution

Tranen

From dive bar to the city’s best pizzeria

Tranen is a historical restaurant dating back to the early 1920s. From the late ’70s onwards it was an atypical dive bar which served cheap beer and hearty pub food from inside smoke-stained walls but in 2012, the bakery chain Åpent Bakeri bought the venerable venue to renovate and modernize. Today, they run the city’s best pizzeria with an accompanying wine list comprised mostly of natural wines. Half the menu is made of red sauce pizzas; the other half, white. Reindeer and pomegranate on a crème fraîche base is a must-try.

Photo credit: Anders Husa

INSIDER TIP

Upstairs there’s a lesser known cocktail bar called "Grus Grus".

SUN-TUE: 16:00-22:00WED-THU: 16:00-23:00FRI-SAT: 16:00-00:00
Wine bar

Territoriet

Wine, vinyl and regulars

Territoriet is the favoured wine bar amongst Oslo’s sommeliers and industry people. In an elegantly designed space with music playing from an old record player it’s easy to sit back, relax, and enjoy the ambience. Knowledgeable sommeliers will guide you through the old and new worlds of wine through both conventional and natural producers, and thanks to the Coravin system, Territoriet is able to offer more than 300 wines by the glass. Eventually you’ll get hungry and start craving their infamous toast or fine selection of cheese, hams, olives and nuts.

Photo credit: Anders Husa

INSIDER TIP

The bar fills up very quickly before and after people have had dinner in Oslo's restaurants.

Wine Bar

Pedro’s

Bringing the Portuguese vibe to Oslo

Pedro Caiado brought the soul of his hometown Lisbon to Oslo. At his tiny wine bar he serves Portuguese snacks –petiscos- and mostly natural wines. Thinly shaved pork loin with a splash of some damn good olive oil and a side of toasted bread is all it takes to make a dish. Grilled cabbage with a smoked sour cream, you have another one. No Portuguese eatery would be complete without bacalhau (dried, salted cod) either, and Pedro’s is not to be missed.

Photo credit: Anders Husa

INSIDER TIP

There are more wines available than just the ones on display. Ask Pedro himself for a recommendation.

Anders Husa

Anders Husa is a restaurant blogger based in Oslo. He writes about, and documents through photos and videos, the best restaurants in the Nordic countries as well as other major food destinations around the world.


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