It looks completely out of place where it’s located. Suddenly, in the middle of Hegdehaugsveien in Oslo, you find a small, white painted brick house. Welcome to Brasserie Blanche – literally the white brasserie. It’s another one of those classic eateries in Oslo, which I decided to visit this autumn. Last time I went to Gamle Raadhus, which had upgraded their traditional menu to satisfy a foodie in 2015. I was excited to see how the kitchen at this French brasserie would balance the established and contemporary.
I brought my parents who were in town. Usually, my dad and I always cook something together, but tonight we wanted to relax and dine out. I’ve tried to introduce them to nature wine and new Nordic restaurants, but that did not fly so well for some reason. Go figure. Brasserie Blanche, on the other hand, is all about hearty French comfort food. The interior is as rustic as the plating of the food. On the menu, you find snails, oysters, duck and everything else you associate with France!
Apparently, the old building used to be a stable, that’s why it looks so oddly situated among regular houses. A familiar face welcomed us as we entered. It was Franciska, who used to work with my brother at Smalhans! I did not know she worked here now, and was happy to learn she would be our waiter for the night.
I had the snails as a starter. The first time I ate snails was in Paris in 2012, when traveling with my old employer PowerTech. I had planned all restaurant visits for the trip, with exception of the first evening. Hence, I asked the concierge at the hotel for advice. He recommended a highly traditional French brasserie around the corner called Bourgogne Sud. Three of us ordered the snails as a starter and a dish called andouillette for main. In the English menu, this was simply translated to sausage. Which, although technically correct, could not be farther from the truth. At least not farther from our expectations. Andouillette is made of pig and cow intestines, and tastes and smells of its content. I digress! The snails were lovely in both Paris and at Brasserie Blanche.
My main dish was the duck in two variations. My goodness! So much fat and flavor. Delicious. You just want to lick the plate clean. However, there are no surprises in this meal. Everything is just like you would expect it to be at a cozy brasserie in France. There’s neither fancy plating nor sign of a modern approach to French cooking. With the exception of wood sorrel to add acidity to a few of the dishes, there’s no Scandinavian twist to the food. That’s fine, though. The food tasted good and left us satisfied at the end of the meal. If you crave old-school French, this is one of the joints you should check in Oslo. Rotisserie will give you a slightly more contemporary feeling, Le Benjamin a bit more refined and of course Statholdergaarden if you want Norwegian/French fine dining at its best.
The service was as informal and relaxed as the chefs’ relation to aesthetics and beauty. My Tarte Tatin could not have looked simpler and less sophisticated, but you can’t beat the savoriness! Brasserie Blanche in my experience is all about these rich flavors. Butter, duck terrine, reduced sticky, sauces, and a warm, caramelized apple cake with velvet soft ice cream. Some days that’s just what you need.
Which is your favorite classic restaurant? Please leave a comment below.