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Typical Norwegian cuisine is dominated by the fresh local ingredients that abound in the country, from fish to the array of plants that thrive in its green mountains. The city of Bergen offers many restaurants where visitors can taste Norway’s traditional gastronomy, as well as intriguing alternatives to Scandinavian food. Discover the best of both worlds in this guide to Bergen’s top ten cultural restaurants.
At Enhjøringen travelers can taste whale carpaccio, one of the typical Bergen dishes on the restaurant’s seafood-heavy menu. Beyond the impressive menu, which will have fish lovers struggle to choose between the various Norwegian delicacies on offer, Enhjøringen’s ace in the hole is its historical location. The restaurant is located in Bryggen, a picturesque 18th-century area rich with wood buildings with painted walls and sloping roofs. Housed in one of these charming residences, Enhjøringen’s homely interiors are brimming with paintings, clocks, cupboards and antique-style furniture which evoke the atmosphere of a bygone era.
Tucked away in one of Bryggen’s old houses, To Kokker can be reached by strolling down a back alley and up a flight of stairs. The amazing food served in this top-notch restaurant is worth the detour. Order their exquisite elk carpaccio or musselsoup, and indulge in the oven baked cod or turbot with nut butter. Each one of the traditional Norwegian dishes is cooked to perfection and pleases the palate with a triumph of authentic taste. The historical, intimate venue, sporting wooden walls painted with warm hues only adds to the unique experience that To Kokker offers to its lucky guests.
The harsh Norwegian climate has made warming soups a popular dish in the country, ideal for a light lunch. Bergen’s Bastant is a cozy soup bar preparing some of the tastiest soups in the city, inspired by the international cuisines of Italy, Morocco, Thailand, Mexico and beyond. Unusual for Norway, vegetarians have the upper hand here, as most soups are rich with healthy veggies, while there are delicious alternatives for meat lovers as well. The setting is intimate, but because the venue is rather small, it fills up quickly. As such, Bastant offers a convenient take away service. The bar gets extra points for the fully biodegradable packaging.
Bastant Stølegaten: Stølegaten 8a, 5003 Bergen, +47 400 72 247
A drawing of a funny-looking penguin with a bow tie is the logo of Pingvinen, a restaurant and bar in the center of Bergen featuring quirky interiors and a friendly, convivial atmosphere. Pingvinen is a good choice for any meal of the day; the bar opens early for morning breakfasts and welcomes guests until 3AM. For dinner, the restaurant serves the simple, authentic dishes present in Norwegian gastronomy, including succulent meatballs, mutton stew and potato dumplings. Pingvinen is not far away from Lille Lungegaardsvannet, a small, octagonal lake in the city’s centre which, in the coldest months, freezes over and turns into an excellent place for ice skating.
To non-Norwegian speakers, the name may sound unfriendly; but Spisestedet M på Nesttun means nothing more than Eatery M in Nesttun, an easily-reached neighborhood in South Bergen. Unlike the name, the atmosphere in this restaurant is extremely friendly and convivial, due to, above all, the welcoming and generous service. The love the staff has for cooking shines through in their tasty, exquisite dishes, prepared with great skill, creativity and an eye for beautiful presentation. An explosion of taste awaits those who try their duck leg confit with calvados sauce and root vegetables, or the catfish with amandine potato and beurre blanc sauce. Moreover, the eatery offers a rich variety of mouth-watering sweets – buns, rolls, cakes, cupcakes, focaccias, etc. – freshly baked each morning.