A Culinary Oasis

By Irwin Nesoff

Located in an historic 17th century building in Central Oslo, Norway, the Michelin starred Statholdergarden Restaurant is a culinary oasis calling out to be experienced. Award winning Chef owner, Bent Stiansen has created an experience that spans all the senses. Built as the residence for the Master of the Mint of Norway - or Stadtholder - in 1640, it later became the residence of Urik Frederik Gyldenløve, the acknowledged illegitimate son of King Frederik III of Denmark and Norway. The culinary skills that Chef Stiansen brings to his restaurant is equaled by the elegance of the dining room’s ornate Baroque ceiling, chandeliers and antiques.

Diners have two options to enjoy the creativity and skills of Chef Stiansen, the 1993 world champion in the prestigious Bocuse d’Or, and his staff. The first floor houses the Statholdergarden Restaurant, awarded its Michelin star in 1998. The menu is modern European changing weekly according to the seasons and local availability. Downstairs, the vaulted lower level houses the food and wine cellar, a more informal setting serving upscale Scandinavian dishes. If you are unable to get a reservation to sit upstairs, your senses and taste buds will be equally delighted in the food and wine cellar. This was my experience as I waited too long to make a reservation. I was seated in the food and wine cellar. I did not regret this for one minute.

Upstairs in Statholdergaarden, diners can choose between a set menu; a four, five or six-course menu, or a la carte. There is also a wine pairing available. Downstairs in the Stathoderens food and wine cellar, diners can choose between two set menus or order a la carte. Wine pairings are available here as well. While I am mentioning the wine pairings, I must also say that the wine list is one of the most extensive that I have ever seen. While perusing the large book, I felt like Harry Potter searching the book of potions for the perfect one.

After studying the wine list I settled on a Montepulciano, even though we were ordering fish. We started with two appetizers, the first was an artistically presented creation of shrimp and scallops with avocado, mango and a shellfish ginger sauce. This is a dish to eat slowly and savor every morsel. Of course the fresh bread with truffle butter did not hurt either. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, our waiter delivered the wine tapas appetizer. What a feast for the eyes. The tapas are presented on a glass plate divided into nine sections, each filled with a tiny work of art. The sections included tartare of beet root, poached egg, parma ham and cheese, empanadas, grav lax, smoked trout with artichoke, red onion and asparagus and marinated cherry tomatoes. Interestingly enough, the seemingly simplest of these, the marinated cherry tomatoes, packed the most surprising taste explosion.

Then on to the main course. We ordered the two seafood dishes, Pollock and catch of the day, which was halibut. Cooked to perfection, the halibut was presented over potato salad, artichoke cream, a mussel sauce with horseradish and dill. The Pollock was presented over cauliflower, spring onions and a Burritane noisette. Dessert was the perfect finishing touch, satisfying the needs of this chocoholic, with only a touch of chocolate. We ordered the lime cream and raspberry sherbet in a chocolate cup with a passion fruit crunch, and the Reglisse mousse which is rhubarb-strawberry sherbet with mascarpone and fennel macron.

The young chef creating these dishes in the food and wine cellar is Silje Kristin Valvik. The creativity and passion that fills her kitchen belies her age and portends for a great future for this young woman. Stepping into her kitchen to say hello, we were greeted by a clean and orderly workspace, and by young chefs and sous chefs who seemed very content. It made me think that the motto of this restaurant should be happy kitchen, happy diners.

The Statholdergaarden located at Radhugst 11, is a not be missed dining experience when in Oslo. Dining upstairs or downstairs is an enjoyable and delightful dining experience where each meal reflects the care and passion of Chef Bent Stiansen and his staff.