Review: Bokbacka (2015) Michelin-Star Potential in Oslo (Closed Permanently)

Located on Skovveien in Frogner is Bokbacka – a new restaurant in Oslo with Michelin star potential. The place opened without much fuzz this autumn. At least, I didn’t read anything about it until I saw some pictures from the opening night. Admittedly, I was skeptical at first when I saw photos of “the tree” – a concept Bokbacka appeared to have copied from other restaurants like El Cellar de Can Roca in Spain. Then again, copying is a common source of innovation and who am I to say where they got the inspiration from? Both Noma and Alchemist in Copenhagen serve varieties of this idea too. The more I read about Bobacka, the more I understood I had to check it out.

Note: This restaurant has closed permanently.

Looking for more great spots for food and drinks in Norway’s capital? Check out our city map of Oslo!

Omakase Tasting Menu at a Nordic Izakaya

Swedish Simon Weinberg, with experience from several Michelin-starred restaurants like Noma and Bagatelle, is the head chef at Bokbacka. I still remember his famous mini burger at Bagatelle’s sister restaurant Lille B. Danish Alexander Jones is the restaurant manager and head sommelier. Bokbacka describes themselves as a Nordic izakaya. Izakaya is Japanese and means an informal place to drink and dine. This isn’t the kind of place I would risk just dropping by, but the style is certainly Nordic here! Local, organic ingredients like Norwegian octopus, brown crab and langoustine, and in-season produce such as duck, Jerusalem artichoke, and pumpkin. In fact, no place in Oslo has ever made me feel so much that I am in Copenhagen. The atmosphere in the room, the service from Jones, and the general vibe of the place took me straight back to my favorite city in Scandinavia. Maybe my mind was tricked by the fact that Alexander is Danish… In either case, I loved it.

I did not get a photo of the first snack, which I believe was a warm broth of pork knuckle. We were offered an apéritif, which we accepted, and got recommended the sparkling wine Ridgeview from Sussex, England. An excellent choice, which I was previously served at restaurant Tango in Stavanger. The menu lay in front of us on the table in a small envelope – a six-course omakase menu, with the option of three extra dishes. Omakase roughly translates to “trust the chef”, but all the dishes were written on the card. In either case, we ordered the full menu (NOK 775) with two of the extra dishes, and the drink pairings (NOK 795). In the end, our sommelier and host of the night, Alexander Jones, treated us with the third bonus serving as well to complete the menu.

Restaurant Bokbacka in Oslo.
Restaurant Bokbacka in Oslo.
"The tree." Garlic cream, fried moss, mushrooms, radishes and fake "soil" made from rye bread.
“The tree.” Garlic cream, fried moss, mushrooms, radishes and fake “soil” made from rye bread.

Bokbacka – Michelin-Star Potential in Oslo

I like that a lot of the action happens tableside. Sauces are poured onto your plate, there is a 200°C warm rock of Himalaya salt used to cook a langoustine, and a lot of stuff happening in general. As a guest, you get a better insight of how your food is prepared and a bonus show. To further enhance your dining experience, Bokbacka has built a coffee shop within the restaurant. Once the desserts are consumed you are invited to follow your waiter to the inner-most room of the venue. Here they have set up couches and small coffee tables, and there’s a small counter with an espresso machine. We asked for a hand-brewed Kalita. Jones sat down next to us at the table and prepared it. Once again, a very personal experience!

The art on the wall and most of the plates are from the ceramics artist Anne Udnes, who also supplies Maaemo, Ylajali, and two other Michelin restaurants. Bokbacka is a good example of Nordic restaurants being so much more than just a place you eat. They are becoming art exhibitions with Scandinavian architecture, furniture, woodwork, paintings, and ceramics. Of course, in addition to the artful plating of the food, and the spectacular serving at the table by chefs and waiters.

The launch of the Michelin guide this year was a joke for the Nordic countries, especially for Norway and Finland. No new stars were awarded to either country. In fact, with Ylajali closing now, we are losing a star. Hopefully, 2016 will bring new cities and new restaurants to the guide. In the meantime, the White Guide delivers much better recommendations. Bokbacka didn’t make it into the White guide this year, but only because they opened too late I think. If I were to name the top Michelin star candidates in Oslo, I would say Bokbacka and Kontrast are the two most likely.

Bokbacka has Michelin-star potential.
Bokbacka has Michelin-star potential.
Ravioli, squid from Norway, egg yolks, basil, and parmesan.
Ravioli, squid from Norway, egg yolks, basil, and parmesan.
The langoustine is cooked on a 200 degrees C° hot rock of Himalaya salt.
The langoustine is cooked on a 200 degrees C° hot rock of Himalaya salt.
Langoustine from Midtsund with langoustine butter, ceps, and cress.
Langoustine from Midtsund with langoustine butter, ceps, and cress.
Another beautiful dish that is finished with a tableside pouring of sauce.
Another beautiful dish that is finished with a tableside pouring of sauce.
"Perfect fries" with Alba truffle and kale mayo.
“Perfect fries” with Alba truffle and kale mayo.
Brown crab from Hitra, dill, mussels, cucumber, and nasturtium.
Brown crab from Hitra, dill, mussels, cucumber, and nasturtium.
Beer bread made with organic flour from Holli Mølle – served with whipped brown butter.
Beer bread made with organic flour from Holli Mølle – served with whipped brown butter.
Yakitori of cod tongue, pickled onion, and Jerusalem artichoke.
Yakitori of cod tongue, pickled onion, and Jerusalem artichoke.
Cod, Jerusalem artichoke spuma, crispy cod skin, and pepperweed.
Cod, Jerusalem artichoke spuma, crispy cod skin, and pepperweed.
Gin & tonic "oyster pearls." Tonic water, gin gel, yogurt, and lemon.
Gin & tonic “oyster pearls.” Tonic water, gin gel, yogurt, and lemon.
Time for the main course at Bokbacka.
Time for the main course at Bokbacka.
Duck breast, black cabbage, potato purée, burnt hay, blackberries, and lingonberries.
Duck breast, black cabbage, potato purée, burnt hay, blackberries, and lingonberries.
Pumpkin ice cream, sea buckthorn granita, chocolate cake. and grated hazelnut.
Pumpkin ice cream, sea buckthorn granita, chocolate cake. and grated hazelnut.
Coco Pops?!
Coco Pops?!
Rye bread, yogurt, homemade müsli (not Coco Pops), and pine syrup.
Rye bread, yogurt, homemade müsli (not Coco Pops), and pine syrup.
Coffee from La Cabra and chocolate-coated marshmallow treats.
Coffee from La Cabra and chocolate-coated marshmallow treats.

Which are your top picks for Michelin stars in Oslo?

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Anders Husa

Anders Husa and Kaitlin Orr are food & travel bloggers and creative content creators. From their base in Copenhagen, they operate the largest and most influential restaurant-focused travel blog in Scandinavia.

4 comments

  • Hello Anders, congratulations to youe fantasic blog!! I`m preparing ouer holiday trip to scandinavia- we`ll start on Friday from Düsseldorf. Your foody map flashed me…:-) unfortunately we only have 3 nights in Oslo to dispose. Therfore I have to make a selection- some restaurants (f.e. Pjoltergeist) make the selection easy because they are closed for summer.
    I would be very happy if you could give me advice on whitch locations we should concentrate. What do you recommend more: Kontrast or Bokbacka??
    I would be really happy to hear from you!!
    Yours Julia from Germany

    • Hey Julia. Sure, just let me know which exact dates you are here and I will give you my best recommendations 🙂

      • Hi Anders – I have the same question – Bokbacka or Kontrast? Which is more delicious and makes you go “mmmm” when you eat? Caroline from Cph 🙂

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