Norwegian food – Oslo, skip straight to the coffee thanks

Norway isn’t well known for it’s culinary exports and my conversations with various people during my holiday here so far agreed to a large extent that it doesn’t have a lot to offer.

We started in Oslo and were surprised to find that despite being a captal city, it had limited options for eating out. This was highlighted by the fact that the most prominent restaurants were either Hard Rock Café Oslo, Pizza-hut-esque pizza houses or places reminiscant of those god-awful steak houses you see lurking around London, just waiting to shock and dissapoint some poor unsuspecting tourist.

After three nights in Oslo, we still had no idea what Norwegian food was. I heard somewhere that Norway’s national dish is a frozen pizza from a supermarket. It wouldn’t have surprised me.

The lack of variety seems to be down to the fact that eating out had historically been the luxury of the well-off and the majority of Norwegians ate at home. This still seems to be largely the case. Another legacy of this historical trend is the cost of food.

Trying to find affordable food (by the London standard of £15-a-head can get you something decent and £25 something good) is nearly impossible; there’s certainly no competition in termsf variety. To put it into perspective, a McDonalds (yes, we resorted one night) will set you back 95.00 Krones, about £9.50. That’s about 50% more than in London. A steak at one of the better-looking restaurants will be between 250 and 400 (£25-£40) and a burger will start at about 160 (£16).

But there were a few good spots. Neither of them traditional Norwegian.

Two places that our lovely B&B hosts Melanie, Alex and Maya recommended were Curry & Ketchup and Mucho Mas.

Curry and Ketchup was a surprisingly good curry priced a reasonable £15-a-head and had a fascinating decor of trinkets and paraphanalia. Mucho Mas was a Mexican place, which would provide a hearty portion of burrito, quesadillas or nachos with lots of sour cream, cheese, salsa and guacamole. Too bad that on our second visit we were neglected for almost 10 minutes and didn’t get so much of sniff of a lager. That’s when we resorted to the aforementioned McDonalds out of pure frustration.

It wasn’t all bad though. Breakfast – and most of all coffee – was the culinary highlight. There were a great selection of bakeries to choose from, although we just found one recommeded by the Lonely Planet and stuck to it. Apents Bakery had great coffee and tasty croissants and other pastries. The bluberry brioches were particularly yum. The bakeries tend to have home-made jam on tap too, making breakfast a bit of a daily treat. Better to make breakfast your main meal of the day in Oslo, if you get my meaning.

And so to the coffee! The best bit. Norwegians drink more coffee per capita than anyone else in the world according to the Lonely Planet. We happened across Stockfleths (also recommended by L.P.) which served probably the best coffee I’ve had. Something which showed how routinely seriously they take their coffee was that each time they took their time to make it and each time they asked me to indicate how much water I’d like in my double americano. It really put even the coffee at better UK chains to utter shame and changed my expectations completely.

So, onto Finse by rail next, which is 1,222m above sea level and home to just a rail station, post office, shop and tourist lodge, where we are staying.


4 thoughts on “Norwegian food – Oslo, skip straight to the coffee thanks

  1. Sounds like an opportunity to open a good restaurant. I can think of a few TV chefs that I wouldn’t mind losing for a few decades while they went to Norway.

  2. I’m not sure which Oslo you visited, but it certainly wasn’t my Oslo! Norwegian food is excellent. It is a shame you did not take the time to seek out restaurants serving traditional fare. We do have many ethnic foods available as well. Norway is known for its fairness in taking in refugees and helping them succeed.

    Yes, dining out in Oslo can be quite expensive, but you do get what you pay for. I think the best place in Oslo for dining out is the wharf area of Aker Brygge. It is a restored shipbuilding yard and has biggest concentration of restaurants, cafés and bars in the city. Norwegian food is served as well as many ethnic restaurants. It has a great out door plaza which is a fun place to watch people and hear so many languages being spoken. The outdoor tables overlooking the harbour are excellent. Try the Albertine Café and Bar for the best views of the Oslo fjord, and great fresh sea food!

    The other parts of Oslo have wonderful restaurants as well. For a traditional Norwegian meal, check out Maud, Engebret or House of Norway, which are all known for the authenticity of their dishes. The Grand Café is a very interesting place to dine at, as it was once the stomping ground people like Henrik Ibsen and Edvard Munch.

    Yes, unfortunately we do have McDonalds. I saw them too when I visited England. They appear to be everywhere. Mainly, I think, these are for the tourists, although it was at first a treat for those of us who were curious about American things.

    I agree with you about our coffee and pastries. You will not find better anywhere in the world, I think. When I travel, I always miss our coffee the most.

    I suggest people traveling to any country do their research first and read a number of opinions. Good food is to be found in nearly every country. Even in England! 😉

  3. Pingback: Some interesting coffee facts « Source it, cook it, eat it

  4. I don’t eat out in Oslothat much anymore, it’s always crap -compared to what you pay for. The food is boring, non-norwegian. That incredible boring Italian food like Pizza and Pasta always mediocre, these steak houses sucks they never get my steak like I want it. And that Asian food has 300 dishes on the menu that taste exactly the same. And if you want something proper you have to pay a fortune like 1500 kr for a meal. The waitresses are always slow and they are too few in numbers to manage to handle the guests, (so they are not to blame in the end). It’s completely blotted for originality in this town, Sushi is my favourite, at least I know what I’m gonna get. The sushi places are flourushing and they are all the same.

    This is the most boring city on the planet food wise, I recomend McDonalds, Burger King and Peppe’s Pizza. At least you get full there.

    Oslo citizen

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