Having just attended an amazing chef’s meetup at Hotel Frederiksminde in Denmark, I was excited when Mikael Svensson of restaurant Kontrast invited nine other top chefs to join him for a similar evening in Oslo. At the “Mikael & Friends” dinner, each chef made one dish each, totaling a ten-course tasting menu. I really looked forward to this event, but at the same time, I was skeptical. Could it become too experimental? Would each chef try to top the others with more spectacular presentations and ingredients? Luckily, my skepticism was turned into amazement once again.
A Night With Mikael Svensson & Friends
Mikael had invited his friends Eyvind Hellstrøm, Esben Holmboe Bang from Maaemo in Oslo, Mats & Ebbe Vollmer from Vollmers in Malmö, Måns Backlund from soon-to-open restaurant Bekk in Gothenburg, José Gabriel Cerdá Contreras from restaurant Hoze in Gothenburg, Filip & Linda Langhoff from restaurant Ask in Helsinki, Christopher Haatuft from restaurant Lysverket in Bergen, Stefan Ekengren from Görvälns Slott outside Stockholm, and Jacob Holmström from Gastrologik in Stockholm. Eyvind Hellstrøm later had to cancel, but that was sorted by Esben and Mikael making one bonus dish each.
It was such a pleasure to meet Filip and Linda from Ask again. We met the first time in Stockholm after the Michelin guide launch half a year ago. Later on, I visited them at their restaurant Ask in Helsinki. The wonderful couple had taken some days off work to visit Oslo, where they used to work before. The day after the event was actually Linda’s birthday! On Tuesday, the following day, they had a table booked at Kontrast themselves. I bet you won’t find a more humble and nice chef couple anywhere on this planet. Make sure to visit their restaurant if you ever find yourself in Helsinki.
Jacob and the Gastrologik team was actually supposed to serve their dish before Stefan and Görvälns Slott, according to the menu. However, the Gastrologik guys managed to miss their flight to Oslo. Thus, they had to drive all the way by car, and therefore, arrived almost one hour into the meal. Thankfully, the other chefs had prepared the mise en place, and Jakob and his partner were able to quickly put it all together once they turned up. On top of that, it was a killer dish!
Oslo’s Most Likely Contender for a Michelin Star
In addition to André Blomberg-Nygård, I had my friends Marius and Sindre at the table. The four foodies of the round table! We all shared an equal amount of excitement and skepticism, but ended up being pleasantly surprised and consistently satisfied. The chefs seemed to be having a really good time and the atmosphere was highly informal. As the evening progressed we forgot were in a restaurant. There were so many chefs inside and outside the kitchen, cooking, serving, and drinking, that we felt more like we were in their living room observing. Most importantly, the quality of the food was overall excellent and most of the dishes were even unique, creative, and extremely tasty.
Out of all these restaurants I have only had the pleasure of dining at Maaemo and Ask so far. Although I have coincidentally shared a taxi with Jakob from Gastrologik, I have not had the pleasure of being a guest at his restaurant yet. However, it is my number one priority once I am back in Stockholm. It was after the Michelin guide launch party that Blomberg-Nygård and I ended up splitting a cab with the guys. André was at my table for this event too, and Jakob did actually remember us. Lysverket and Hoze have been on my wish list for a long time, and after this event, the rest of these restaurants have joined that list for sure.
Mikael Svensson’s restaurant Kontrast is probably the most likely contender in Oslo for a Michelin star. His level of cooking is at a high enough level, as is his style of presentation and the atmosphere of the entire place just screams Michelin. Currently, the tasting menu they offer is one of the best value for money meals you will eat in this city. As such it was a natural gathering point for a dinner of this caliber. I hope Mikael was satisfied and got the inspiration to do even more events like this in the future!
Below are all the dishes from the different guest chefs:
1. Mats & Ebbe Vollmer From Vollmers in Malmö
Soup of brown crab with broccoli, crab meat, and pickled dill oil. Rich, deep, umami flavors!
2. José Cerdá From Restaurant Hoze in Gothenburg
“Fit for a sailor” was the name of this dish of half-baked mussels with tomato gel, aioli, and baby onions. It was great to have a taste of the food José Cerdá cooks at Hoze in Gothenburg, which is a restaurant where I am really looking forward to going one day. However, the mussels in the dish kind of disappeared in too many other elements.
3. Filip & Linda Langhoff From Ask in Helsinki
Kaskinauris, which is a turnip grown in base-rich earth, with smoked reindeer heart and pickled spruce shots, made by Filip and Linda Langhoff from restaurant Ask in Helsinki.
4. Stefan Ekengren From Görvalns Slott Outside Stockholm
Onion soup with a pork broth, onions, and a malt bread. This was an impressive dish by Stefan Ekengren from Görvälns Slott outside Stockholm, and my absolute favorite of the night! It had an original presentation and a fun element where you crush the top to reveal the insanely flavor-rich dish underneath. I wish I had the recipe for the bread on top!
5. Jakob Holmström From Gastrologik in Stockholm
Squid in thin strips, almost like tagliatelle, with black garlic cream, beer, and fennel. This was one of my favorite dishes as well, made by Jakob Holmström from Gastrologik in Stockholm.
6. Esben Holmboe Bang From Maaemo in Oslo
“And now a two-star dish,” Esben Holmboe Bang from Maaemo said jokingly when he served his cod with a soup of preserved asparagus and fish roe.
7. Måns Backlund From Bekk in Gothenburg
Jerusalem artichoke and truffle – so simple, yet delicious! Underneath were crunchy, fried Jerusalem artichokes, and on top was a spuma made on Jerusalem artichoke as well as shaved truffles. I definitely have to visit Måns Backlund and his restaurant Bekk when I am in Gothenburg.
8. Christopher Haatuft From Lysverket in Bergen
Pork cheeks with fried oyster, apple, mustard leaves, and a sweet caramelized mustard sauce, made by Christopher Haatuft from Lysverket in Bergen. This was a great dish that left us wanting more! Chef Haatuft explained that they used something heavy to press the meat down in the pan when they fried it, to make sure the heat was distributed evenly.
9. Mikael Svensson From Kontrast in Oslo
Finally, it was time for Mikael Svensson’s main course of smoked and grilled organic lamb from Svartskog gård with red beets from Korsvold gård in several varieties. The cheese serving was also from Svensson. It was a mock cheesecake made from Edelfrue cheese, with a lid of strawberry gel and crispy sourdough flakes. There was some disagreement at our table, but I really loved this dish!
10. Eyvind Hellstrøm Bonus Dish From Maaemo!
Since Eyvind Hellstrøm had to cancel last-minute, we got a bonus dish from Maaemo’s Esben Holmboe Bang. It was a koji ice cream with blueberry and spruce shoots. Koji is a fungus normally used to ferment stuff like soybeans, rice, and grains, and it’s also used in alcohol production.
Were you at this event? How was your experience? Would you like to see more events like these in Oslo? Please leave a comment below.