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Food & Dining in Norway


Norway's capital, Oslo, is big enough for the amount of choice to be inexhaustible, no matter what your choice may depend on – value for money, low price, luxury, location, provenance of the cuisine – and yet the city centre is compact enough for the restaurants to be easily accessible even on foot.

A lot has changed since the 1960s and Norwegians have acquired more leisure and money, and Oslo has become a multicultural society, notably with a large group of Asians. The traditional Norwegian food that some decades ago was simply prepared and eaten without anyone giving it much thought, is now just a niche in the overall restaurant market, to be sampled at places like Maud, Engebret, Holmenkollen restaurant or Kaffistova (self-service). Around Christmas time, one can sample these traditional food anywhere; look out for Norwegian specialities like lutefisk (cod prepared in an alkaline solution, translucent in appearance), pinnekjøtt (smoked and dried ribs of lamb laid on top of birch sticks and steamed, served with boiled potatoes and mashed swedes) and slices of spekemat (dried meat) like fenalår (cured leg of lamb), followed by some dessert based on multer (cloudberries).

The modest eastern opening of the city's main street, Karl Johans Gate will be among the first things you see as you leave Oslo's central train station, Oslo S. If you only eat food you are familiar with, you might as well choose a Burger King, McDonalds, Peppe's Pizza Pizza Hut Subway or Bagel & Juice close to where you are staying, as such chains can be found all over the city. If you are already too hungry to move on, a more exciting bet would be Tampopo in Skippergaten, where you get two generous pieces of sushi for a reasonable price. Also, even before you reach the Oslo Cathedral you could pause for Italian delicacies at Baltazar Restaurant or Trattoria Cappucino (light meals). In Rådhusgaten, a couple of blocks to the left, you will find the luxurious restaurants Statholdergaarden and Wollans, the latter widely recognised as Oslo's best fish restaurant, and Café Celsius which offers excellent café meals and a cosy fireplace.

With Egertorget, you reach the innermost core of Oslo, and here you no longer need anyone to tell you where to eat; whatever you are after, you would find it here. With a little luck you will bump into a classy French meal at Brasserie Handsken or A Touch of France. With a little class you might seek out an evergreen like Grand Café, once Ibsen's hangout, or the Art Nouveau classic Theatercaféen whose clientele and atmosphere is more renowned than the food. On the other side of Studenterlunden there is the vegetarian restaurant Vegeta vertshus and the intimate Babettes Gjestehus.

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