Michelin Guide listed Ekebergrestauranten, ranking in the top 30 of 1,200 Oslo restaurants on Tripadvisor and regularly featured by gourmet publications as one of the best fine dining locations in town, invited us for dinner during our stopover in Oslo on our way to Spitsbergen last Friday evening. They offer innovative, at times adventurous, but not excessively experimental Scandinavian and European cuisine in very chic, spacious, bright dining rooms of a perfectly maintained 1920s functionalist (regularly erroneously labelled art-deco by reviewers) building. It is considered to be one of the finest of its kind in Europe. While being managed locally, they are part of Fursetgruppen, who own another 20 or so local restaurants, including the world-famous three Michelin starred Maaemo.
On the ten-minute cab ride from the city centre with its magnificent opera house (40 minutes by train from the airport; the opera house is next to the station) up the hill to the prestigious Ekeberg neighbourhood, the cab driver kept on talking about how he regularly drives well-known people, including government ministers to Ekeberg Restaurant. In 1926 Roald Amundsen’s airship Norge, which was on its way to – you guessed it! – Spitsbergen, moored at a mast a short walk away from the restaurant.
The view from the restaurant over the Oslofjord with its little sailing boats and giant cruise-liners and the panorama of the picturesque city are nothing short of breath-taking. For those who would like to enjoy these vistas without splashing out on a high-end dinner, the restaurant offers a more basic food menu on their large outdoor terrace (Lonely Planet recommends doing so as one of the top ten things to do in Oslo).
We were immediately greeted by the maître d’ and led to our table next to the floor-to-ceiling window front.
We went for the three-course set menu, ordered two glasses of delightful wine. Ms B had Sancerre, I had a Bordeaux (I also tried a glass of Spitsbergen IPA later during the meal, it had to be done, even though I wasn’t over-impressed with the taste), and shortly afterwards were treated to a couple of amuse-bouches, just before our lovely first courses arrived.
I opted for the salmon sashimi with apple puree, fish roe, watercress and radish. Ms B chose the pumpkin soup, which was pleasantly creamy, without being too rich or overwhelming. It contained chunks of tasty chicken, and little bits of crunchy cauliflower, nuts, seeds, and chives.
Throughout the evening, the professional, friendly, attentive, but never intrusive waiters provided us with plenty of interesting information about the seasonal ingredients, how they’re sourced sustainably, and turned into these culinary masterpieces. We also greatly appreciated that – despite it being a busy evening, like all evenings there – the staff were very quick and enabled us to enjoy our meals without having to worry about making it back to the airport on time for our connecting flight.
We loved our main courses, I had a large portion of slices of lamb, garnished with carrots, green beans, onions, pea puree, and a thick brown red wine sauce. The meat was so tender it nearly melted on our tongues. Even though we’d both normally never order lamb, except when travelling in certain parts of the world, where it’s often the only meat readily available, we thoroughly enjoyed this dish (we always share our dishes).
My wife ordered pan-fried cod fillet with baby potatoes and chanterelle mushrooms in cream sauce, which was delicious, and, as you’d expect, cooked to perfection. 15 seconds less and it would have been underdone.
The dessert topped it all off, with some of the best panna cotta we’ve ever had, an incredibly chocolaty chocolate fondant, two complementing types of sorbet, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, and a stylish presentation.
The latter, as for all other dishes that evening, unfortunately by no means reflected in our photos. The evening sun was extremely intense, and it seemed impossible to avoid a mix of strong sunlight patches varied with deep shadows, as we didn’t want to disturb the other diners and the exquisite atmosphere by using additional lighting, lifting the plates up, or standing while taking pictures.
We’ll definitely return to this gourmet temple on our next visit to Oslo, probably again on a stopover to Spitsbergen, to which we intend to return in May next year.