As Norway’s culturally rich capital, Oslo is packed full of boutique art galleries, architectural wonders and fabulous eateries just waiting to be discovered. To keep you in the know about where’s hot in this fast-changing city right now here is an updated version of Oslo’s ten best cultural restaurants that you need to visit.
Often said to be one of the best sushi restaurants in existence, Alex Sushi has an extremely high reputation and yet never fails to deliver. All of the fish served here is as fresh as it could possibly be and the contents of the set menus changes daily depending on what has been caught that day. There are four set menus each with a different price tag and include dishes such as sashimi, nigri-sushi, maki, scallops, crab, tempura and lobster. For those with a smaller appetite or looking to try something unique, order a selection of innovative dishes off of the main menu instead. Diners can choose to sit at the boat shaped counter inside to enjoy a show of the chefs preparing the sushi right in front of them, or can relax outside on the docks of a fjord.
The owner is the one doing the cooking at hos Thea an intimate, highly reputable restaurant near the city centre. Previously a butcher’s shop, this space became a classic restaurant in 1987 and has thrived ever since. The menu is small with a choice of just three starters, two fish mains and two meat as well as a weekly changing set menu, but where it may seem lacking in quantity to some it certainly makes up for it in quality. Expect to see dishes such as vichyssoise with lobster and truffle and Swedish fallow deer tenderloin with cherry sauce and sauteed golden chanterelles on the menu. For a special touch, the restaurant also exhibits some of the owner’s favourite artworks.
Ruffino Ristorante Italiano, Oslo | Courtesy of Ruffino Ristorante Italiano
Ask anyone in Oslo where to go for the best Italian meal and they will more than likely say Ruffino’s. Serving truly authentic and incredibly delicious dishes, no one visits this restaurant just the one time. An award-winning eatery, the staff are more than happy to offer recommendations for both food and wine options to ensure that everyone is able to choose the most exquisite selection of dishes to suit their palate. Start with an antipasto to share before tucking into a pasta first course, a meat main course and a generous helping of tiramisu to finish.
Dinner Bar & Restaurant has been serving up authentic, delicious Szechuan and Cantonese dishes to Oslo since 1989. Made up of a main dining room, a cosy downstairs dining room and two private chambers, there are plenty of tables at this restaurant but it is still advised to book in advance for busy nights due to its popularity. Dinner Bar & Restaurant encourages guests to dine like the Chinese and order several different dishes to share between their table. To make this easier, there are a few set menus to choose between on the menu as well as the extensive a la carte menu. Parties of two or more should try the signature set menu which consists of foie gras; a dim sum basket; a tasting platter of kingcrab, black cod and tiger prawns; lobster, wagyu beef and rack of lamb asian style; and the dessert of the day.
Choose to dine in the outdoor restaurant, on the romantic veranda, in the cafe, in the sophisticated indoor dining room or in the private chamber at Ekebergrestauranten to enjoy the exquisite panorama of the Norwegian fjords all around. The natural beauty of this restaurant’s setting is truly magical and teamed with a menu sure to please any palette, Ekebergrestauranten is an ideal choice for a special occasion meal or romantic evening. Sit atop this dazzling city taking in the breathtaking views whilst enjoying a glass of fine wine and sampling an array of the finest quality, seasonal dishes such as olive-poached halibut, entrecote of veal and cured reindeer loin.
Another Nordic restaurant that prides itself on using only locally grown, seasonal produce in its dishes, Engebret Cafe is listed as the oldest restaurant in Oslo. As if it has refused to accept that ingredients can now be imported or preserved out of season in freezers, this traditional eatery continues to change its menu to fit seasonal produce. The authentic traditionality of the restaurant is continued in its old-worldly decor of wood panelling and draped curtains and the candlelit tables are the perfect finishing touch. Despite the changing menu reindeer is always available whilst seafood is heavy on the menu in spring, and fresh cod in January.
A restaurant that will never become boring, the menu changes every week at Restaurant Fjord, ensuring that guests will get to sample a new culinary find each time they visit. Using only the finest ingredients, the chef draws up three, four, five and six course set menus for diners to choose between. Wine lovers can also choose a three, four or five course wine menu to complement each of their courses perfectly. A sample six course menu starts with Hitra crab, followed by grilled porbeagle, scallops and wild halibut, and is finished with a selection of Norwegian cheeses and banana calvados.The perfect spot for an indulgent meal at the end of a cultural day sightseeing, Restaurant Fjord is conveniently located just minutes from The National Gallery.
As the only Japanese restaurant in Oslo to practice the robata technique of grilling meat and fish, Hanami is not to be missed by Asian food aficionados. During the robata cooking process the meat and fish is cooked over simmering embers of white oak coal without any flames present at all resulting in a unique, delicious taste. Aside from robata dishes, Hanami also offers a sophisticated selection of raw fish and sushi options too. Here the sushi comes in platters perfect for sharing and, as sushi has become the unofficial dish of Norway, these dishes are hugely popular with locals.
Situated in one of the chicest neighbourhoods in Oslo, Kolonihagen thrives off of its barn-like atmosphere and fun menu packed full of forever-changing locally sourced, organic dishes. Succeeding in being both upmarket and yet still extremely friendly and welcoming, diners at Kolonihagen can enjoy a Norwegian-French lunch menu or go all out with a seven-course tasting menu for dinner. Dishes change with the season but fire-grilled reindeer and wild mushroom soup with black truffles often make a much-appreciated appearance. This restaurant’s policy is strictly fresh, natural and sustainable cooking and there is not a microwave in site.
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Diners will wish to set aside an entire evening to make the most of the set menu option at Maaemo. Constantly changing to keep locals coming back for more, the tasting menu features a staggering 26 plates of raw foods and sublimely simplistic reductions. Expect to sample innovative and slightly daunting dishes such as reindeer heart, spruce juice and fried rye-bread cream for a dining experience you are unlikely to ever forget. Maaemo earned two Michelin stars in just three years and from the quality and array of dishes on offer, it is very easy to see how they managed it. Although unlikely to become anyone’s regular Saturday night restaurant, Maaemo is a restaurant that everyone should visit at least once.