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Mar 18, 2011 06:30 PM

Need dining ideas in Oslo

Good evening hounds...I will be in Oslo for one week (piggybacking with the wife who is attending a conference), and I would like some suggestions for solo lunches (for myself) and dinner ideas for my wife and myself (with one night accompanied by another couple who are gluten intolerant.)

I am basically looking for good value cafes and restaurants (the Oslo equivalent of a French bistro)
and perhaps one splurge dinner. Any help you can give me is much, much appreciated. Thanks in advance.

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  1. I see Oslo has as little talk as Bergen but I did get some good info on my recent Bergen request, so hopefully we can revive this Oslo thread. Good value is the key because it seems to be very hard to find in Norway. Fun cafes w/ good coffee and pastries that hopefully don't cost $8 each, one nicer meal, but overall good food for a good price. I know ethnic may be the way to go but we'd like at least one typical Norwegian meal. Would also like to get one great fancy cocktail and find a couple cool low key bars, or rock bars. Any thoughts? Thanks.

    1. Hi,
      I am a Oslo resident foodie, so I hope I can help you. For your splurge I have three suggestions:
      - Restaurant Oscarsgate. Its a tiny restaurant with only 17 seats. In the kitchen there are 7 cooks. Think about that for a moment. The chef used to work at El Bulli. One Michelin star.

      - Maaemo. The most high-end ecological restaurant in Scandinavia. Both the head waiter and the somelier from the now distinct two-Michelin star Bagatelle has moved here.

      - Solsiden. A seafood only restaurant with great quality fresh fish and seafood. The restaurant is only open during summer season because it is located right at the water. On days with nice weather they open the glass walls of the restaurant which basicly puts you right at the waterfront on the dock. Try the seafood platter. Its fantastic.

      As for bistro/type type places open for lunch check out these alternatives.

      - Brasserie Hansken
      A French brasserie type place with outdoor serving during summer time.

      - Cafe Christiania
      A nice cafe style restaurant with a great rooftop serving.

      - Theatercafeen
      An historic cafe near the national theatre.


      22 Replies
      1. re: Roysen

        Thanks for those links. Cafe Christiana looks good and seems to have a few deals. Do you have any other more casual suggestions but where a main course doesn't cost US$40-50? Whew, I'm afraid your regular menus are what we'd consider a splurge in Boston, so the first two are probably out of our league. And can you get a good doner kebab or hot dog on the street? Thanks.

        1. re: Joanie

          I will pick my brain and try to come up with some cheaper alternatives. Doner kebab is rare in Oslo. Shish Kebab are readily available in a lot of Kebab-"holes in the wall" around the city. Hot dogs are available all over town too but not from carts or stalls on the street. You have to look for them in kiosks like "Narvesen" and 7 Eleven.

          1. re: Roysen

            Hi Roysen, I noticed Restaurant Eik in the Hotel Savoy (and I think associated with Theatercafeen somehow), has 3-5 course dinners for 375-495, minus 40 NOK if you get no wine ( The place looks pretty nice, gets good reviews and is a relative "deal". Any thoughts? Did you come up with any thoughts on actual cheap eats? I asked about hot dogs cuz I've had great ones in Copenhagen and Reykjavik and thought Oslo might have good ones too. And I was hoping doners would be as cheap and plentiful as in Berlin (shish kebab is fine) but I'll take whatever deals there may be. Thanks.

            1. re: Joanie

              Hi Joanie,

              Yes, Eik is a really good choice. I can both recomend them for their good food and ambience. The only association they have with Theatercafeen is that on the second floor above Theatercafeen in the same hotel is a more upscale restaurant called Eik Annen Etage (meaning Eik Second Floor) which is owned by the same company owning Hotel Savoy and its restaurant Eik.

              I have twisted my mind in search of cheap eats but Oslo really is an expensive city. If you like spicy Indian food there are a few good choices. There are also a couple of nice Italian places and some rustic restaurants which I like, some sushi restaurants, a dim sum restaurant and a thai restaurant I like. There are also some French restaurants and a couple of seafood places. These places are in the price category at Eik or a bit below. If you are interested I can direct you to any of these, but if you are looking for even cheaper alternatives I am not sure I will be able to recomend anything. Sorry Oslo is an expensive city. Please let me know if you think any of this is of interest.

              1. re: Roysen

                Yes, Joanie. As Roysen says, Oslo is an expensive city. I had a co-worker who just went to Norway and Sweden in May (we are in Los Angeles) and I warned her that everything is very expensive (stressed the very) and when she came back she told me that she knows I told her it was expensive, but did not realize it was THAT expensive. Be ready for sticker shock!

                One of our favorite things to do when visiting Norway is to go to the local Fish Market and get some of the fresh-from-the-ocean boiled shrimp. Eat it right there on the ocean, throwing the shells into the sea. Get there in the late morning/early afternoon. They will spoil you for any other shrimp in the world - I promise!

                Also, my favorite dessert is "Is med Krokan" (soft serve ice cream - can be found at any store that has a picture of a soft-serve cone out front - with krokan (sugared nuts) topping. God, I miss that!!

                1. re: WildSwede

                  I was in Stockholm 5 years ago and Oslo 10 and don't remember it being quite as crazy. Thankfully 6 of the 10 days away will have a big breakfast buffet and I *will* bring a plastic bag with me. I found a Chinese restaurant in Bergen that looks pretty decent and well priced and the friend I'm going with likes to split food, so we'll find a way to make this work.

                  Anyone have any thoughts on Tromsø?

                  P.S. Wild Swede: I see you're a fan of Ye Rustic Inn or whatever it's called. When I visited in Jan., it stunk of cleaning fluid and I couldn't imagine eating food in there, but did hear about those wings. Haha.

                  1. re: Joanie

                    Funny, every time I have been there I have never noticed any odd smells. Maybe they just cleaned when you got there? The wings are great - and HUGE!! ;-)

                    I still recommend going to the fish market and getting the shrimp. Best meal you will have!

                2. re: Roysen

                  I am so glad to find you. We are going to Oslo for our first visit in a couple weeks, and I would love your recommendations for all the ones you listed...rustic, italian, sushi, dim sum, thai, French, seafood.
                  We will be staying in an apartment in the Torshov neighborhood, but will be out and about seeing the sights like Vigeland park, Resistance Museum, Bygdoy Island, etc. Since we'll likely spend a lot, I'd really like to enjoy what we are eating! Also, are there any deli's or takeaway places that you love?

                  1. re: AnneMpls

                    Hi AnneMpls,

                    I am glad I can be of help. I will try to write down everything I know about the dining scene in Oslo in one post. All my favourite eateries, where they are located and their webpages (the ones that have a webpage.

                    First I'd like to start off by saying that the Norwegian professional restaurant and food industry used to have a big shining star. A leader everyone else was looking up to and tried their hardest to emulate the quality of. This restaurant was called Bagatelle and it was run by the chef Eivind Hellstrøm who is the big father Norwegian fine dining. All the Norwegian chefs who competed at Bocuse d'Or has trained with him. He has also awarded the French honour "Ordre National du Merite" from the French embassy in Oslo. This is the highest French honour given by the French legislation. Eivind Hellstrøm is the first non-French person receiving this honour. Restaurant Bagatelle had two Michelin stars. Then about two and a half years ago Mr. Hellstrøm left restaurant Bagatelle after a long disagreement with the major sharholder. Bagatelle closed and reopened one year later newly renovated and with a complely new crew with much lower ambition than with Eivind Hellstrøm in charge. Mr. Hellstrøm himself decided not to open a new restaurant or join somewhere else. Instead he is now dedicating his time to writing cookbooks and making cooking shows on TV.

                    I used to be a regular guest at Bagatelle and I think both to me and the fine dining industry in Oslo this change of direcftion for Bagatelle came as a shock. There will be a long time before anything of the same quality opens in Oslo again.

                    However Bagatelle was not only Eivind Hellstrøm. Most of the people working in the kitchen and on the floor of restaurant Bagatelle is still working at different restaurants in Oslo. These people are kind of spreading a little bit of Bagatelle magic on the places they work. I will let you know where that is.

                    Secondly I would also like to tell you that Oslo really is an expensive city but as with most other cities it is not like the most expensive restaurants have to be the best. I will give my advice based on my opinion of their quality of food.

                    Summer is not the best time for restaurant visits in Oslo though. The reason being that many restaurants close from mid-june to mid-august. This is because Oslo is not a very big touristic attraction pulling in a lot of tourits during summer and at the same time a lot of the inhabitatnts in Oslo tend to spend their time outside Oslo during summertime. So Oslo is in general a little empty during summer. I will try to indicate if the restaurants I recomend are closed during the summer.

                    - Restaurant Oscarsgate
                    - Maaemo
                    - Statholdergaarden
                    - Restaurant Haga
                    - Feinschmecker
                    - Eik Annen Etage
                    - Oro
                    - Le Canard
                    - Argent
                    - Julius Fritzner
                    - Baltazar
                    - Ekebergrestauranten
                    - Holmenkollen Restaurant

                    - Brasserie France
                    - Brasserie Hansken
                    - Brasserie Blanche

                    - Ruffino Ristorante Italiano
                    - Ristorante Primafila

                    - Alex Sushi
                    - Nodee
                    - Art of Sushi
                    - Sato
                    - JoNoe
                    - Nippon Art
                    - Bambus

                    - Plah
                    - Som Tam

                    - Dinner
                    - Four Seasons
                    - Xich Lo
                    - Cosmo Thai Sushi
                    - Mr. Bay Asian Cuisine
                    - Oriental Cuicine
                    - Hanami

                    DIM SUM
                    - Taste of China
                    - Beijing Palace
                    - Tabibito
                    - Peking Garden

                    - Salsa Restaurant & Tapas Bar
                    - San Leandro Vika
                    - Toro Toro

                    - Palace Grill
                    - Bristol Grill
                    - Markveien Mat og Vinhus
                    - Grefsenkollen
                    - Engebret Cafe
                    - Stortorvets Gjæstgiveri
                    - Gamle Rådhus
                    - Südøst
                    - Frognerseteren

                    - Solsiden
                    - Brasserie Mares
                    - Lofoten Fiskerestaurant
                    - Tjuvholmen Sjømagasin
                    - Havsmak
                    - Restaurant Fjord

                    - Agra
                    - Natraj
                    - Gate of India
                    - Mister India
                    - New Dehli
                    - Mehfel

                    - Posthallen
                    - Ylajali
                    - Klosteret
                    - Eik
                    - Nobilis
                    - Bølgen og Moi
                    - VitIs Vinifera
                    - Cru
                    - New Orleans
                    - Elvebredden
                    - Oslo Spiseforretning
                    - Arakataka
                    - Madu Raw

                    - Cafe Christiania
                    - Theatercafeen
                    - Grand Cafe

                    - Hereford Steakhouse

                    WINE BARS
                    - Barolo
                    - Enoteca Baltazar

                    I will be back with a post for each category with the description of the restaurants later tonight.

                    1. re: Roysen

                      I have been more busy than anticipated, but I will be back with more on this.

                      1. re: Roysen

                        Thanks for the info, Roysen.
                        I will be in Oslo for a few days beginning this weekend, and I'm particularly interested in trying Norwegian-style food (as opposed to, say, Thai or Indian or Italian).
                        Are any of the cafes, seafood, or rustic places you've listed in the budget-friendly category?

                        1. re: racer x

                          Well, if you ask any Norwegian what Norwegian-style food is you will probably be suggested two, three typical dishes. Most of these you will not find in any restaurant because the more modern Norwegian of today don't eat these dishes anymore. We are so influenced by the food of the world that we have lost our own gastronic identity. The only traditional Norwegian food I can think of which is served at restaurants are almost all typical of Christmas. These dishes are also mostly served in the restaurants around Christmas time. These are dishes served on Christmas eve in different parts of the country. Several typical Norwegian ingredients are used in a lot of fushion style restaurants though where they try to get the most out of those ingredients by combining them with foreign tastes but traditional Norwegian food is like looking for an extinc animal'.

                          If you put a gun to my head and I had to give you a name of a restaurant which seves what is most close to Norwegian style food, I would say that you could pick any of those listed in the cafe style or rustic category except Palace Grill which is more french inspired but with a very rustic environment.

                          The restaurants on my list are from mid to high priced. Very few restaurants in Oslo is what foreigners would call budget-friendly. That would be like hamburger joints, kebab-shops, hot dog kiosks and that sort of places. Again if you put a gun to my head and I needed to give one budget recomendation, I would say try Bruscetta with tomato, garlic, basil and fresh mozarella at the Italian restaurant called Italo's Pizza and Pasta on the upper floor of the shopping center Byporten which basicly is part of the same building as the Oslo Central Train Station. It is good, cheap and fresh.

                          1. re: racer x

                            I think of reindeer as Norwegian and have a couple places on my list with that:

                            Gamle Raadhus: Nedre Slottsgt. 1,; 1600's town hall, whale/reindeer 265-335
                            Kaffistova: Hotell Bondeheimen, Rosenkrantz gt. 8,; cafeteria style w/ salmon, reindeer, , til 9PM, 7 Sat/Sun, 173 for reindeer cakes and potatoes

                            And I think this one's supposed to be good for area seafood.

                            Solsiden: Akershusstranda 13, Skur 34,; summer place on water with nice sunsets

                            1. re: Joanie

                              Reindeer is indeed traditional Norwegian food, though very luxuary. Almost like truffles or foie gras for the frenchman living in the country. You will probably get Raindeer at some of the places you mentioned but beware thaty they change the menu frequently. What you will not get is probably the traditional way of serving raindeer. This is called "Finnbiff" and is cooked in cream and onions.

                              Solsiden is the best seafood restaurant in Oslo. They also have great atmosphere as they are located right on the waterfront with huge windows they can slide away on days with nice weather. Then you will sit right on the water. However they are not cheap. Their seafood plate for two is great. Great selection of Burgundy white wines as well.

                              You also mentioned whale which is traditional Norwegian food too, but its becoming less served at restaurants because of worldwide reactions to the whaling.

                              1. re: Joanie

                                If I were to give only one restaurant recomendation for a tourist to try in Oslo it would have to be Palace Grill. This restaurant is very special. It is run and owned by the chefs in the kitchen, so food really is the main issue here. The environment is like a really old run down brasserie but don't be fooled by that into thinking the food is not top notch. The menu changes every day but there is only one choice which is a degustation of 10 courses with very high level French/Norwegian fusion cuisine based on Norwegian ingredients and French techniques. There is only one serving every day and it is not possible to make reservations except to show up at the restaurant in good time before they open and they will put you on a list and tell you what time to come back to dine. Otherwise you have to line up outside when they open and hope you get a seat. The dining room seats about 23 people. There is a bar with the same style interior beside the restaurant in the same building where you can enjoy a drink before they open. The people working the restaurant floor is very friendly and show intimate affection to their diners. Don't be surprised if she will give you a hug or a kiss on the chin if you compliment their food.


                                Unfortunatly they are summer closed during the period

                                17th July - 8th August

                                Just across the street from Palace Grill is Alex Sushi which probably is a top two sushi restaurant in Oslo. The New York Times wrote a review about it a few years ago and their conclusion was that this had to be the best sushi bar in the world outside Japan.


                                I do however think that the best sushi bar in Oslo is inside the Asian resturant Nodee which is right next to Wiegerlandsparken. The restaurant is devided into two spaces. One serves inventive Asian fushion style food and the other space is a sushi bar. During summertime they also open up a big outdoor dining area. The sushi here is a bit more experimental than at Alex Sushi but it also contains more options. This restaurant is open all summer.


                                In addition to Solsiden these are probably my favourite four in Oslo in terms of food quality at the moment outside the high-end restaurants. Solsiden is a restaraunt which is only open during the summer.


                                1. re: Roysen

                                  I'm a bit surprised to see catfish on the menu at Solsiden.
                                  I for one love catfish, but I think there are some foodsnobs on the other side of the Atlantic who hold it in low regard. It's pretty unusual to find it on fine-dining restaurant menus here.

                                  Is catfish popular in Norway?

                                  1. re: racer x

                                    Catfish is highly regarded here. Are you sure its the same type used on the other side of the Alantic?

                                    1. re: Roysen

                                      Good point. I hadn't realized until now how many different families of fish are considered "catfish." They're probably different.

                                2. re: Joanie

                                  Gamle looks very appealing, but unfortunately for me, they're one of the ones closed for part of the summer (9 Jul - 1 Aug this year).

                                  Kaffistova also looks very interesting. The prices look just right.

                                  1. re: racer x

                                    Yeah, a cafeteria can't be too too expensive, right? I hope you'll report back before Aug. 24.

                                    And if anyone knows of any Tromsø destinations, that'd be cool

                                    1. re: Joanie

                                      I'm actually in Tromso right now, enjoying the midnight sun, but the prices seem to be outside the range of what I was planning for this particular trip. I was almost about to try Emma's Drommekjokken or Emma's Under, but between an upset stomach and reading a less-than-enthusiastic review in another thread, I decided against it. I've been self-catering.

                                      1. re: racer x

                                        Emma's Drømmekjøkken is supposed to be one of the best restaurants in Norway. If you have the chance to get a reservation you should not let the chance get away.

                                        I have never been to Tromsø since I was a teenager but would certainly go to Emma's Drømmekjøkken if I were in town.

              2. I tried Kaffistova tonight. Had the Norwegian meatballs (beef & pork) with mashed peas and steamed vegetables. Not very good, but filling.
                I was glad to have it though, as most of central Oslo is on lockdown, and the few restaurants that ordinarily would be open during the summer are closed now.

                1 Reply
                1. re: racer x

                  glad you got a meal. adding link to Kaffistova

                  Rosenkrantz' gate 8, Oslo, Oslo 0159, NO

                2. For those visiting in July or August, it might be helpful to take a look at this article from Oslo Puls, which lists closure dates for a number of restaurants. (There's also a shorter list of restaurants that are open during the summer.)

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: racer x

                    The good news for me is everything will be open in late Aug. But how much of Oslo did the bombing close down? I'm starting to get paranoid about my travel plans since I went to Alabama two days after the Tuscaloosa tornado and left Vicksburg Mississippi 5 days before it flooded over. Now this insanity.

                    On a food note, too bad about Kaffistova. How much did your meal cost? Was it just not tasty? Thx.

                    Rosenkrantz' gate 8, Oslo, Oslo 0159, NO

                    1. re: Joanie

                      Oh, no -- don't worry that the city is closed down.
                      A large block of the central city was shut down for just that first day.
                      Now most of the city is getting back to normal, to the extent that that is possible. Just a few blocks immediately around the blast site were still cordoned off as of yesterday evening, which is a tiny, tiny part of the city. (Probably in large part because windows still need to be replaced.) Karl Johans is already back open and full of foot traffic.

                      1. re: Joanie

                        I paid 149 NOK (about US$28) for 2 or 3 large meatballs with gravy, a golfball-sized lump of mashed peas, and some steamed sliced veggies.

                        The food was just very bland. A prepackaged American tv dinner (eg Salisbury steak) would have been tastier. And the servings I got were among the last from the steam table -- who knows how long they'd been sitting there?

                        But I wouldn't totally write Kaffistova off.
                        Those were very unusual circumstances. Most eateries in that part of the city were closed; I imagine one of the only reasons Kaffistova was still open and serving customers is that it's associated with a hotel, and the hotel was open.
                        For all I know, the regular evening staff might not have been able to come in because of the lockdown, and the restaurant kitchen might have been running on staff kept on from the morning.

                        Rosenkrantz' gate 8, Oslo, Oslo 0159, NO

                      2. re: racer x

                        I lived in western Norway for 5 years and have very good friends in Oslo, all my restaurant information is out dated, however, but 1, the Holmenkolen Restaurant at the end of the Holmenkollen Trik or tram line. Yes it is a tourist restaurantl, but one can get a light lunch, reasonably for Oslo, w/ possibly the most dramatic view to be had in town. The Trik ride is memorable in itself, there are places to walk and the historic ski jump is jut a short walk down the hill.
                        The sad bombing was in the gov't building area and about 5 blocks from Karl Johanns Gate, the main thoroughfare and area for much of the dining.

                        1. re: Passadumkeg

                          I think this is actually called Frognersteren, seems to be the same at least.


                          1. re: Joanie

                            Yes, you are correct. Memory loss....
                            We go for the epplekake (apple cake) and coffee. And to take in the view.
                            We used to live in Sognsvatten while attending the University of Oslo.

                      3. Several of the restaurants Roysen listed upthread, such as Gate of India, Bambus, and Cru are either on or near Kirkeveien or Bogstadveien. Restaurants in that area range in price from somewhat pricey down to burger stands and Burger King, so it might be worth just walking around the area if your first choice doesn't work out.