Dining in Oslo

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Andre Til Høyre

Anne Maurseth’s Oslo bar is designed to feel like an apartment – albeit the chicest and most well-stocked apartment imaginable. From the Millennial pink walls and the palm plants, to the tiled bar tucked away behind velvet curtains, it’s a real stunner. The apartment vibe extends to the style of service (and the complete absence of reservations), which is laid-back and friendly, although the skill and thought put into the natural wine and craft cocktail selection is purely professional.

Location: Youngs Gate 19, Sentrum, Oslo, 0181.

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The industrial edge and stark interiors of the modern Vulkan development belie the exemplary dishes emerging from the open kitchen of Kontrast set within. Set close to the Akerselva river, organic local produce and regional technique lead the charge here. Simple presentation masks the complex nature of what’s served. Expect contemporary takes on classic Nordic dishes such as duck liver with meadowsweet and puffed barley, and new potatoes with soused herring, fish roe, Roros sour cream, aquavit and fermented carrots.

Location: Maridalsveien 15E, Gamle Aker, Oslo, 0175 Oslo

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In an industrial setting close to Oslo’s old dock, this strikingly minimalist restaurant is, ironically, all about connecting with nature (‘Mother Earth’ being the ancient Norse translation of Maaemo). Headed up by Esben Holmboe Bang, its progressive cooking showcases the country’s rugged wilds. A sublime 20-course tasting menu takes you on a journey through the Norwegian landscape, featuring ingredients plucked from the icy waters on the north coast, or grown and foraged in the area around Oslo. Dishes like langoustine roasted in pine butter helped put it on the map. As Norway’s only Michelin three-star dining room (and a new entry on the World’s 50 Best in 2018), it is one of Scandinavia’s hottest tables.

Location: Schweigaardsgate 15B, Grønland, Oslo, 0191 Oslo

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A cocktail bar and craft distillery rolled into one, Himkok (translated as ‘Moonshine’) is often described as a bartenders’ paradise, producing its own aquavit, gin and vodka for its Nordic-inspired drinks. That’s not the end of this incredible venue’s in-house production however, with a purpose-built greenhouse busily growing all the bar’s herbs – just one of the initiatives that earned Himkok The World’s 50 Best Bars inaugural Ketel One Sustainable Bar Award in 2018. Housed in one of Oslo’s old brick buildings, it’s an endless warren of bars, lab space and cosy spots to sit and sip the inspired cocktails, many of which are poured on tap.

Location: Storgata 27, Sentrum, Oslo, 0184

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Olivia opened in 2006 and has since established itself as a chilled and summery Italian haven in not one, but three separate Oslo locations, with hand-stretched pizzas and fresh pasta and antipasti. Though the menus are the same in each location, the views and experience widely differ, with a choice between the castle and fjords to accompany your dish, a shopper’s delight surrounded by brand names, or the city’s finest museums. Outdoor heating in each restaurant means that even in the coldest peak of the Norwegian winter it’s possible to sit outside and enjoy whichever view one chooses.

Location: 3 Stranden, Sentrum Oslo, Oslo, 250, Norway

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Hanami is a Japanese word referring to the enjoyment of the beauty of flowers and their transient nature. It is also one of the finest Japanese fusion restaurants in the city. It’s the only one in Oslo to practice the robata technique of grilling meat and fish. This technique involves cooking the food over simmering embers, no flames involved, and only white-oak coal is allowed. Aside from cooked food there is, of course, an equally sophisticated selection of raw fish and sushi at Hanami. The food is designed for sharing, and allows guests to discover just why sushi has become the unofficial national dish of Norway. Not only are there plentiful supplies of fresh and succulent fish within arm’s reach, but the techniques have been fine-tuned and perfected to ensure successful execution at every roll.

Location: Hanami, Kanaeln 1, Oslo, Norway +47 2283 1090

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Engebret Cafe

Listed as Oslo’s oldest restaurant, Engebret captures the Norway of the past, in candlelight, wood paneling, and draped curtains. The food is equally traditional and changes with the seasons as if export didn’t exist and culinary practices hadn’t evolved. Reindeer is a constant, seafood appears in the spring and fresh cod from north Norway is a January highlight. While dining, it is impressive to think Ibsen, Grieg and other Nordic greats have all sat at Engebret’s tables at some point in its 150-year history.

Location: 1 Bankplassen, Sentrum Oslo, Oslo, 151, Norway

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There is something appealing and exclusive about a restaurant which is only open for half of the year. It gives the impression that there is a true dependence on fresh produce, a real desire to hibernate and improve the recipes and preparation. Solsiden is open from May until September, taking full advantage of the warmer months when the water is unfrozen and the air is still crisp but warm enough to allow for outdoor seating by the harbor. The seafood platter special is big enough for a family, and an expansive menu with carnivorous touches (hake with veal tongue, for example) makes Solsiden a seasonal delight.

Location: Sentrum Oslo, Oslo, 150, Norway

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Markveien Mat og Vinhus

The ingredients used by the chefs at Markveien Mat og Vinhus are the very best that can be bought in Oslo, and therefore very little is needed to change them in order to enhance the dining experience. Traditional dishes are served with equally traditional ingredients, with crayfish, lamb and oxtail making notable appearances on the menu. The only thing which brings the ingredients out of their Norwegian origins is the French touch felt throughout: the terrine, the frequent ‘à la’ in the menu, and the intimate dining room.

Location: Markveien Mat & Vinhus, Torkbajj gt 12, Oslo, Norway +47 2237 2297

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There aren’t many cultural heritage sites that make cocktails this good. Svanen’s location is remarkable, complete with its marble columns and dark-wood panelling. The building housed a pharmacy, Svaneapoteket, since 1896, and the interior has been almost entirely preserved, from the ceilings and countertop all the way to the minor details throughout – expect a lot of swans everywhere, in keeping with the venue’s name. In contrast with the space, the cocktails aren’t mired in history at all, but are instead a collection of compelling, forward-thinking libations using all manner of interesting ingredients, balanced by a list of beautifully-presented classics.

Location: Karl Johans Gate 13, Sentrum, Oslo, 154