I had the honour of celebrating my 35th birthday at Maaemo restaurant in Oslo, not a long time after they had received their third Michelin star. I have dreamt about visiting this restaurant for many years, but as the price is steep, very steep, I have never even thought it will be more than a dream. Until this Saturday.
We arrived to Maaemo 10 minutes before 12 o’clock (how lucky coinsidence was it that the only available time in March was on my birthday? The next available time for booking a table was in June) and it seemed like they knew we are arriving exactly then, because a smiling waiter was waiting for us the minute we came near the building.
I was blown away by the interior. So elegant, yet so simple, so “motherearthy” – the photos on the walls were fenomenal ( I especially loved the one by the restroom), the view to Oslo Barcode…I cannot find words. This small restaurant has limited tables which gives an exclusive feel, each dish is introduced by the chefs themselves makes it personal and unforgettable.
The entire kitchen is in glass and located on the second floor and just before desert we got to go upstairs to take a look.
It´s not only the food one remebers from vistit to the restaurant, but also the service. I feel that this was really world class. It´s superb from the start with the discussion about the freshness of the food. The staff knew every little detail about the origin of the food.
I don’t know too much about the Champagnes (only that I love it!), but the Charles Hedsieck Brut Reserve which we got served first, was much more than only a Champagne. It was a perfect start for the perfect lunch.
Th lunch with 20 courses seems too long but it´s mostly bite sizes. Nevertheless we spent almost four hours at the restaurant and the 20 plate fixed course was an enchanting journey to Norwegian culinary delights from Jerusalem artichokes to reindeers to 200 years old clams, oysters, goat cheese and waffles.
The lunch menu really was a feast for the palate. Each dish was delicious with lots of unusual combinations and ingredients from ants and reindeer heart, but the cooking is not about the unusual, it is about creating new and tasty dishes that everyone would enjoy. My favorite without doubt was the “emulsion of raw Norwegian oysters from Bømlo with warm sauce made from mussels and dill” and the “liquid waffle mountain tea made only from wild herbs found in Bøverdalen.”
Rakfisk, rømmegrøt, fenalår, brunost and lomper have never tasted better. Last I had rømmegrøt (cooked sour cream porridge) was in 1997 and it was the worst experience of my life. The rømmegrøt with smoked reindeer heart was something totally different.
The 10 wines/champagne, a cider and a beer complimented the dishes, but my favourites were the 2012 Ratzenberger Bacharacher Posten Riesling Spätlese and 2010 Domaine Thibert Pouilly-Fuisse Les Cras . I felt sorry for my husband who was driving and had to have the “water menu”, he would have enjoyed the danish Hvede N447 beer.
Maaemo was beyond our already high expectations based upon its reputation. From the warm arrival greeting to departure, it was the most amazing culinary adventure. So many courses, so many interesting tastes, visuals, smells that I cannot describe with words.It is a performance of art and tastes you won’t forget, service that was fantastic and meeting the chefs/seeing the kitchen makes it so special.
As a parting gift, guests are given an envelope containing the menu and a series of black and white photos illustrating various locations in Norway where the food is sourced. A visit to Maaemo is less about dining and more about enjoying an experiential adventure – this is your entertainment for the day/evening. This is not about the ego of the chief. It is about the customer and the experience.