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Restaurants & Bars 5

Norway Trip

turbowine | Jul 31, 2016 10:05 PM

Just got back from 2+ weeks in Norway. Our mission was the Hurtigruten coastal cruise but we added some extra time to the schedule to see a few other places. Restaurants are listed from Kirkenes, Balestrand, Flam, Bergen & Oslo. My traveling companions are somewhat conservative with what they are willing to spend on food and Norway is a very expensive place, so we didn’t necessarily try all of the best fine dining Norway has to offer, mostly eating in pubs and bistros. Below find the restaurants we visited with some comments and the score I gave them on Trip Advisor. Norwegians eat a lot of seafood, and we also saw whale and ptarmigan on the menus. We took a “King Crab Safari” in Kirkenes on which we caught and ate fresh King Crab which was wonderful!
We stopped in Iceland on the way home, you can read about that here: http://www.chowhound.com/post/iceland...
While Norwegians eat later than most Americans, they are not as late as in Spain. If you don’t have a reservation, keep in mind things will be hopping by 8 PM.

Mirabel
Trip Advisor 4
Storgata 4, Jessheim 2050, Norway
http://mirabel.no/#_=_
Dinner
Just arrived in Norway and needed someplace close to the Oslo airport. This place came recommended by the hotel. My father and I both had the Elk. (Which we are told is a literal translation of the Norwegian but is actually the animal we call “moose.” I eat all kinds of venison, so didn’t matter to me.) My wife and mother both had the French onion soup.
First the soup. Basically beef broth with some onions tossed in. Cheesy crouton served on the side. Good enough at the moment but not traditional by any means.
The “Elk” was very good, both dad and I agree on this, really enjoyed it. Side potatoes w/ cheese were nice too.
Menu had lots of variety -- fish, beef, chicken, pasta, pizza.
Winelist had a decent, if small, selection.
I don't think you would ever call this true fine dining, but it is a good solid effort that hits the spot when you just get off the plane and need some real food before calling it a night.

Rica Arctic Restaurant
Trip Advisor 4
Kongensgate 1-3, Kirkenes 9900, Norway
https://www.scandichotels.com/hotels/...
Dinner
Intended to go to Thon Hotel Kirkenes or to Surf and Turf for dinner (based on better standings in the Tripadvisor Top 10 Restaurants for Kirkenes) however it was Sunday night and Surf and Turf was closed and Thon Hotel had a buffet dinner instead of the normal menu. This restaurant in the Scandic hotel was open and serving from the normal ala carte menu so it better fit our desires.
I had the reindeer medallions -- wonderful stuff! My wife went with the Shellfish soup -- also terrific. Mom had the Ceasar salad, which had a bland, boring dressing. Dad went with the charcuterie plate (a special, not on the normal menu). It was good except it was half onion rings and fried potato strips. Not something on any charcuterie plate I've ever seen before. But for my dad, it worked, he really liked it.
Drank a Spanish red and beer from the "northernmost brewery in Norway". All Tasty.

Overall a good solid option on the Kirkenes dining scene.

Surf & Turf Restaurant AS
Trip Advisor 4
Dr. Wesselsgate 2, Kirkenes 9900, Norway
Dinner
Four of us went for dinner. Good selection of beers and an ok variety of wines.
Started with the deep fried Cod tongue and Reindeer tongue appetizers. (When in Rome....)
Cod tongue was basically just a more rubbery version of the deep fried fish. Not bad but not something fantastically better than normal deep fried cod.
The Reindeer tongue was nice, basically a very tender piece of meat. Both of these were interesting to try and easily edible; perfect way to try something local that isn't too risky if you are timid with food.
For dinner, two of us had the fish and chips and two of us the roast Char. The fish and chips were very good, the deep fried cod was moist, flaky and without too much batter. The Char was done in a soy sauce preparation so I wouldn't call it authentic Norwegian necessarily, but it was tasty enough and well done.
Not fine dining but not a lot of options here in Kirkenes.
Recommended.

Gapahuken Restaurant
Trip Advisor 5
Storskog | Storskog, Kirkenes 9900, Norway
http://www.storskog.no/engelsk/restau...
Dinner
I was reminded this night that when planning the meals for an area, if there is one restaurant that looks to be clearly better or that you think you will like the most, that is the restaurant to go to first. That way, if you are correct, you can cancel other plans and go there more than once. Gapahuken is such a place.
Our party of four started with the cured reindeer. The chef threw in some smoked whale as we had never tried it. Both were delicious (think bresaola for the former and tender beef jerky for the latter). Made me think the whale steak would be tasty, but we never felt like that was something we should order, considering all we hear about hunting whales here in America.) From there we went on to the pesto braised pork in red wine sauce, rack of lamb and two orders of "roast" reindeer. We followed with the Cloudberry Panna Cotta and the Caramel pudding with Cream. It was all fabulous (though the lamb was a little gamey to my "American" taste).
The wine list is short, as is typical around here, but with a good representation of styles and price points.
The owners are a husband and wife team who are marvelous, friendly people who do a terrific job and serve outstanding food. He is the chef, she handles the service, and their grandson works as busboy. They are helpful, engaging and accommodating. Service was sufficient and always with a smile, though you must acknowledge the context -- seating for 110 with only three people working. There were probably 40 people total the night we were there, arriving and departing at various times during our dinner. (We were there from 5:30 - 8:30 PM)
The open kitchen is front and center in the dining room, which I thought was great. Much fun to watch the chef and see everything he is preparing as well as how it is all plated. It was both entertaining and a learning experience.
Norway is expensive relative to other countries and that is true here as well, but this place was only a tad higher than the hotel restaurants in town. One more thing, and I tell you this to inform you, not to discourage you; if you must go by taxi, it will add up.
This is hands down the best restaurant in the Kirkenes area. Get a window seat if you can.

Spisekroken
Trip Advisor 4
Klostergaten 8, Bergen 5005, Norway
http://www.spisekroken.no/en#_=_
Dinner
When you first enter, this place looks TINY! Then you learn they have additional seating in the basement. Very cozy, great ambiance. Menu is interesting, nice selection, small but decent wine list too. Staff was friendly and helpful.
I started with the scallops -- wonderful! Very tasty with a Jerusalem artichoke cream sauce. I had the only starter.
The women both ordered the veal dish -- which came with a "bonus" piece of beef cheek. Fabulous, they both enjoyed and I like the taste I had of each.
Us menfolk ordered the duck confit...major restaurant faux pas here folks! A pet peeve of mine is chefs/owners/managers/menu planners that equate "confit" with "leg." Confit is not a body part! Confit is a cooking technique or style that involves braising the meat in fat for hours at low temperature. Low and slow folks. If you don't do that, it ain't confit! Don’t call it confit just because it is a leg of duck!
As I was saying, us menfolk ordered the duck "confit" and we were served roast duck legs. Whether it was false advertising or just naiveté, it is wrong to say that a roast duck leg is duck confit. That being said, it was delicious despite not being what we expected!
Even considering this "issue" I recommend this restaurant because it was all tasty.

Egon Restaurant
Trip Advisor 3
Vetrlidsallmenningen 2, Bergen 5014 , Norway
http://egon.no/restauranter/kjottbasa...
Lunch
Straight up -- this is for tourists. It’s a chain! Nice bar/pub feel to it in the decor and architecture. Menus come in 5 or 6 languages. Cuisine comes from all over. Pizza, Pasta, burgers, sandwiches, fish, salads, etc. Some beer, some wine. Nothing special, but doesn't pretend to be anything special either.
One thing -- you order your food at the bar and it is then delivered to your table. This seems to be common in lower end establishments here in Bergen.
Our party tried the BBQ pulled beef, the sliders, the Parma ham salad and the aged pork chop. All were fine, nobody was unhappy with their selections; just nothing snazzy to write home about. It works when you are tired of local food and ready for something that feels like home (but don't want to stoop so far down as to go to the McDonald's or Burger King down the street) or just don't have the energy to find a better restaurant.

Trattoria Italiana
Trip Advisor 4
Strandgaten 89, Bergen 5004, Norway
http://trattoriaitaliana.no/#_=_
Dinner
Stopped in here for dinner for a change of pace. Bustling place, 3/4 full and they said it was a slow night (Tuesday).
Family ordered the Linguini with Scampi, Penne with Sausage and Zucchini, the Entrecote and a Parma and Mozzeralla Salad. All were delicious.
The sausage was not your typical Italian Sausage that we would get in the USA, but something more akin to the breakfast sausage we've had here in Norway. Still good, just different. The steak was a nice size, 7 oz or so, cooked a tad more than I ordered it (medium rare is my standard) but covered in luscious herb butter and sitting on a mound of butter soaked potatoes that were all wonderful.
My only complaint is that the wine list tended towards more expensive wines. Nothing under 400 NOK.

Altona Vinbar
Trip Advisor 4
C. Sundtsgt. 22, Bergen N-5004, Norway
http://www.augustin.no/altona/#_=_
After Dinner Drinks
Associated with our hotel, this is a fun little bar, with great ambiance in the basement of an old building. Funky 60's furniture and super low doorways (watch your head!). Staff is great, has a full bar and beer along with a terrific wine list, including many options by the glass. They use a Coravin system so they can serve higher end wines by the glass, which is really nice. They have one of those Wine Spectator Awards that means they have lots of wine that nobody can afford to buy. Helpful staff.

Harbour Cafe
Trip Advisor 4
Torget 9, Bergen 5014, Norway
Lunch
Continuing in our theme of "taking a break from Norwegian food" we stopped in here for lunch. On the main drag near the water, across from the fish market. The burger was great! As was the beef salad and the seafood salad. Everybody was happy, great pub food!

Pilgrim Restaurant
Trip Advisor 4
Golden House Gallery, Balestrand 6899, Norway
http://www.detgylnehus.no/en/the-gold...
Dinner
Liked that they were still serving till 9 PM. (Our boat from Bergen didn’t arrive until 8:30 PM and some restaurants were already closed.) Funky old building with art gallery downstairs, lots of cool antiques in the seating areas and the dome on top for the views. Right next to the harbor where you get off the boat.
Food was nice, basic, Norwegian. Really enjoyed the meatballs and the mushroom soup. The chicken in cream sauce was nice too.
Home made desserts were great. Staff was very friendly and helpful. Recommend! (Though I wish I could have gone to Ciderhuset…next time.)

Aegir Brewery & Pub
Trip Advisor 4
PB 44, Flam 5742, Norway
http://flamsbrygga.no/en/aegir-brewpub/
Lunch
Probably the best restaurant in Flam for interesting food as well as quality and service. (By the way, if you are curious, the Flamstova Restaurant is at the same hotel as this one and has 75% the same menu.)

The beer is great, and lots of variety on tap and in the bottle. Our group had the pulled pork sandwich and the ham salad, followed by one of each of three desserts. Everything was very tasty and rewarding. Very nice place to eat with a “Viking” ambiance.
We never went for dinner, but the pork shank on the dinner menu is supposed to be great.

Flam Marina and Appartement Cafe
Trip Advisor 3
Vikjavegen 4, Flam 5743, Norway
http://discoverflam.com/?lang=en
Dinner
3 1/2 Trip Advisor stars, if I could. Looked at the four "big" places in town. Aegir, Flamstova, Freitheim Hotel and here.
As I said in my Aegir review, it and Flamstova are essentially the same place. Fretheim gives the appearance of a restaurant that survives off of its hotel audience regardless of what it does or how good it is. The Fretheim menu is small and unimaginative as they also have a buffet. Skip it! So instead of doing Aegir for every meal, we decided to give this place a try based on the reviews and wanting some variety.
The views are great, I'll start with that. We ate outside and just loved it. This is a natural beauty heaven. The blankets they provide are a great touch (for when it cools down). The menu isn't huge but has variety and more imagination than Fretheim's did. I had the venison patties in gravy, my wife the seafood platter (daily special). It had 2 kinds of shrimp, mussels and crayfish. They were all served cold. Cold enough that she decided it must have been on purpose, not a kitchen fail. She enjoyed it.
The venison patties were nice, think bunless burgers, smothered in gravy and Lingon berries. Gotta love Lingon berries. The accompanying Brussels sprouts and bacon had more bacon than veggies. Gotta love that too.
Selection of beer and wine was good enough. Had a Valpolicella (almost chose a Sancerre).
Everything worked out fine and was tasty enough but still, I can't say it was above average by much. 3 1/2 stars. It is average plus, but I don't mean that in a bad way. I'd go to Aegier first, but if my choice was this or the Fretheim Hotel, I'd choose this! Also good if you don’t want to eat every meal at Aegier (as we didn’t).
It is a bit off the beaten path, follow the road around the harbor out of town for 300 meters or so and there it is. A 10 minute walk at most. Not hard to do nor hard to find.

3 Brodre
Trip Advisor 3
Ovre Slottsgate 14, Oslo 0157, Norway
http://www.3brodre.no/#_=_
Lunch
Stopped in for a late lunch after walking all over the city. First of all, service was slow. They need more waitstaff. But the food was good enough.

Mussels came in a Thai curry inspired broth, which was interesting because the menu listed either beer based or wine based broths and the waiter never asked which we wanted. So kinda strange that we got neither of what was on the menu and got Thai out of the blue.

The beer plate was good, though it was described as having "spicy sausage" and it was salami on the plate. Nothing wrong with that, just informing you that there may have been a translation issue here on the menu.

The sausage plate was an actual hot grilled sausage (2 links really) with potatoes fried in bacon. The menu said it would be potato salad, but who is complaining?

The Chicken quinoa salad was a very generous portion and flavorful!
The chicken wings looked great as we saw them pass by to other tables.

All in all, was a good stop for a hungry crew. Nice beer list, especially craft brew, wine list a tad on the small side.

Olivia Aker Brygge
Trip Advisor 4
Stranden 3, Oslo 0250, Norway
http://oliviarestauranter.no/_=_
Dinner
Stopped in for a light dinner after a day of sightseeing. The waterfront promenade was very busy (Saturday night!) and every restaurant was hopping. My unscientific survey results showed this was the busiest place and we decided to give it a try because the pizza and steaks looked good, and busy must mean worthwhile, right?

We went for the 4 cheese pizza, chicken w/ parma ham and a mozzarella salad and a bottle of wine. Wine prices were high, Food seemed in line with elsewhere. All was good.

Nice friendly waitress, was busy and tried hard to keep things right despite that. Overall a very good experience.

The Scotsman
Trip Advisor 3
Karl Johans Gate 17, Oslo 159, Norway
http://www.scotsman.no/#_=_
Lunch
First of all, the chicken wings were awful. Nothing like the picture that I saw on the TripAdvisor review page. Small, over cooked, dried out. Nothing good about them. Nothing like the wings we saw at 3 Brodre the other day.

The hamburger was ok, not bad but not as good as the one I had at Harbor Cafe in Bergen two days ago.

The chicken tart was strange. Good, but funky. Didn't fit our vision of a tart. It had a pastry bowl with an onion/scrambled egg mixture on the bottom, filled with some kind of gravy or sauce and then a whole chicken leg on top. Not sure how it was intended to be eaten, but my wife ate the chicken like you'd expect one to eat a chicken leg, while dipping it in the sauce. Then she scooped out the egg/onion and never did eat the pastry shell. Like I said, unexpected presentation/preparation, but tasty.

The fish and chips were also good. Nice flaky fish, tasty crisp french fries (thin cut, what I think of as American style fries).

Cheese balls were battered and deep fried. Tasty but nothing special.

No table service, had to order at the bar. Witnessed another customer complain about the long wait for her food and the bartender replied "I don't know, I don't make the food." Our wait wasn’t that long, fortunately.

They boast always having six craft brews on tap, but today 3 of those taps were empty, which was disappointing. They did have plenty of taps of "industrial" beer as well as lots in bottles too, so we didn't go thirsty.

On the whole a very mixed review. On reflection, I'd do 2 1/2 Trip Advisor stars if I could.

Der Peppern Gror
Trip Advisor 4
Fridtjof Nansensplass 7 | Beliggende i borggården bak rådhuset, Oslo 0160, Norway
http://derpepperngror.no/#_=_
Dinner
Thought we'd do something really different for a meal, a real change of pace, and this Indian restaurant fit the bill.

For starters, the staff was wonderful, great service and very friendly. Place was packed and gave the impression that service would be very slow, but we were pleasantly surprised that things moved along at a decent pace. The menu was only in Norwegian but the waiter was helpful, translating everything to English for us.

We ordered

Papadum
Gol Gappe
Chicken 65
Garlic Naan
Onion & Cheese Naan
Chicken Tikka Masala
Chicken Korma
Aloo Gobi
Malabar Jingha Curry

Most of these are old standbys for us. Flavors were a little different than we get in the USA but still very good and satisfying.

The new dishes:
Chicken 65 -- basically chicken chunks in a sweet and spicy sauce --- what's not to like?

Gol Gappe -- hollow crispy balls with a small amount of some kind of potato and chickpea filling; served with tamarind and mint sauces. This one was a miss for us. The sauces weren't as vibrant as I would have hoped for and basically nothing about the dish was all that exciting for us.

Malabar Jingha Curry -- this was a Tiger Prawn Curry -- very good, and the prawns were quite large, a nice size.

After dinner we each received a small complementary mint & mange lassi.

Enjoyed this place. Nice dinner.

T.G.I. Friday's City
Trip Advisor 1
Biskop Gunnerus gate 3, Oslo 155, Norway
https://fridays.no/#_=_
Lunch
First of all, what the hell are you thinking, an American restaurant chain in Norway? If you want the safety of a chain restaurant, go to Egon across the street. At least it's European (I think). So what's my excuse? I'm with a group and didn't get a voice in this decision. They regretted it!

Worst service ever! Started with one waitress (#1), then another came and took over (#2), said she had our table now. Then the first one delivered our drinks. Then a third one delivered our food (#3). Half the order, yes, half the order was wrong. Grabbed and brought the wrong dishes. Took them back and came back with the correct dishes, however, one, the French Dip, was missing the au jus, and nobody had any silverware. Waiter (#3) went to grab silverware off an empty table and stopped to talk to other customers along the way, leaving us hanging. (There is a time and a place to say “I’ll be with you in a moment.”) Finally brought the silverware and had to be reminded of the au jus problem. Blank stare, as if had no clue that French Dip comes with au jus (and this was clearly stated on the menu) or perhaps didn’t even know what au jus was. Said they'd look into it. Five minutes go by, no au jus. See person #3 running around doing other things. Stopped them and asked about the au jus. Response "I'm not your waiter" despite having delivered our food to us just 5 minutes ago. Apparently also didn't bother to tell our waitress (#1) we needed the au jus either. See our waitress (#1, #2 had disappeared for good) helping another table and call her over when she is free. Mentioned we need au jus still. Same "deer in the headlights" look. No clue what au jus is or that it comes with French Dip. Promises to look into it. A few minutes later comes back with a tiny container of liquid. Neither physically big enough for dipping nor a large enough quantity to use for dipping the entire sandwich in. Ask for a second one to help out. Same blank stare and she asked "why would you want two?" Finally said she would get another, however, we never saw her again until it was time to pay. The second one was never delivered.

Food is just OK, what you would expect, same as in USA, nothing special.

I counted 4 different TGIFridays in downtown Oslo, and there may be more. I guess Norwegian's like them. That's a shame...

Den Glade Gris
Trip Advisor 4
St.Olavs gate 33, Oslo 0166, Norway
http://www.dengladegris.no/#_=_
Dinner
This place was a joy! Not fine dining, more like your American neighborhood BBQ place. One that specializes in pig, pork-- oink, oink. The name means “Happy Pig” they told us.

The Pork Knuckle (or Pork Shank) is wonderful. A tender, juicy, crispy skinned delight that comes with a tasty brown gravy that is just a tad on the sweet side.

The ribs and pulled pork sandwich are also great, with a sweet & tangy BBQ sauce.

Saw the pork neck get delivered to another table and wished I could come back to try it, it looked so delicious - a nice slab of meat! (Had to ask what it was because it wasn't what I expected pork neck to look like.)

Ordered the side of bacon. (Everything is better with bacon!) Tasty stuff -- European style -- as in, not as salty as we have in the USA, but still very tasty.

The beer list is fantastic. Very nice selection of Norwegian craft beer -- definitely the best beer list I've seen on this trip.

Wine list is adequate, but hey, this is beer food!

The service was wonderful. The team is very friendly and helpful, really enjoyed the conversation and getting to know them.

A wonderful dinner experience that everyone should savor sometime.

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