Maaemo Dinner at the Chef's Table (Two Michelin Stars)

A Michelin starred restaurant is usually not where we dine on a regular Thursday after work. This kind of luxury is reserved for vacations. However, we realized that by following this logic we would never get to test the best restaurants in our own hometown. Thus, when our good friend André Blomberg-Nygård asked if we wanted to join for a small snack at his favorite neighborhood shack, Maaemo, we accepted his invitation.

Wild duck cured for 9 months
Wild duck cured for 9 months

Maaemo is Oslo and Norway’s only two Michelin star restaurant. It is also the only Nordic restaurant to be awarded two stars directly, the very first time they were mentioned in the Michelin guide. In the list “The World’s 50 Best Restaurants” Maaemo was ranked no. 79 last year. We’re looking forward to see where they rank once the 2015 list is revealed on June 1st

The scallops were presented at the table in their raw form, and the chef explained what they were about to do with them.
The scallops were presented at the table in their raw form, and the chef explained what they were about to do with them.

Danish head chef Esben Holmboe Bang leads the kitchen, while co-founder and sommelier Pontus Dahlström from Finland leads the restaurant. We were lucky enough to have Pontus almost entirely to ourselves this evening, at the test kitchen table on the second floor. From this table you overlook the kitchen with all the chefs hard at work, and you also have a panoramic view of the barcode buildings of Bjørvika.

View from our table towards the kitchen.
View from our table towards the kitchen.

All of the ingredients at Maaemo are organic, and most of the produce are sourced within a 100 km radius of Oslo. Esben explains that the menu is a reflection of the Norwegian nature, and they even go into the forest themselves to forage wild plants and flowers. The wine is organic as well, and some of it is biodynamic, but Pontus doesn’t choose strictly “nature wines” like we experienced at restaurants like Noma and Relæ in Copenhagen.

André forgives us quickly for being late
André forgives us quickly for being late

Pontus welcome us in the door as we enter. We are late, and André has already waited for us 15 minutes upstairs. Not the worst place to wait, though, watching the chefs of Maaemo plating dishes with microscopic accuracy.

Esben the conductor
Esben the conductor

Esben stands on the right side of the kitchen, looking almost like a conductor of an orchestra. He has complete control. Pontus, on the other hand, is busy being the perfect host for the guests at his table. Esben is equally welcoming, of course, whenever he comes out to put the finishing touches on a dish, but Pontus feels almost like he is part of our table this evening.

Pontus the host
Pontus the host

This feeling of having your waiter and sommelier so up close and personal is something we’ve only ever experienced once before, and that was at Noma in Copenhagen. We’re beginning to see a pattern at these two star restaurants! If you want to read another review from this place I can recommend the story (in Norwegian) from my foodie friend Lars.

Lightly frozen fresh cheese (Nyr) from Grøndalen Farm, with salted and smoked wild salmon eggs.
Lightly frozen fresh cheese (Nyr) from Grøndalen Farm, with salted and smoked wild salmon eggs.
Dried salsify pickled in juniper broth, drinkable cold pickled juniper broth.
Dried salsify pickled in juniper broth, drinkable cold pickled juniper broth.
Grilled young garlic from Hvaler with elderflower sour cream and summer preserves from last year. The cured wild duck in the background.
Grilled young garlic from Hvaler with elderflower sour cream and summer preserves from last year. The cured wild duck in the background.
Warm savoury cookie made from dried chanterelles, pickled chanterelles and dehydrated broth from roasted chicken bones.
Warm savoury cookie made from dried chanterelles, pickled chanterelles and dehydrated broth from roasted chicken bones.
Cornett with chicken liver and pickled pear from Hardanger
Cornett with chicken liver and pickled pear from Hardanger
Dehydrated dark beer and grains with wheat vinegar and salted egg yolk
Dehydrated dark beer and grains with wheat vinegar and salted egg yolk
Emulsion of raw Norwegian oysters from Bømlo with a warm sauce made from mussels and dill
Emulsion of raw Norwegian oysters from Bømlo with a warm sauce made from mussels and dill
Mahogany clam from Nordskot with a dashi of Norwegian shiitake mushrooms and seaweed.
Mahogany clam from Nordskot with a dashi of Norwegian shiitake mushrooms and seaweed.
Cream of grilled chestnuts from last autumn and Finnish caviar
Cream of grilled chestnuts from last autumn and Finnish caviar
The famous langoustine serving, with pickled spruce and cold pressed rapeseed oil poured over dry ice to create a vapor that smells of the Norwegian forest
The famous langoustine serving, with pickled spruce and cold pressed rapeseed oil poured over dry ice to create a vapor that smells of the Norwegian forest
The signature dish; Norwegian langoustine
The signature dish; Norwegian langoustine
Scallops from Frøya grilled in the shell, fermented celeriac and a broth of celeriac, apple and smoked butter
Scallops from Frøya grilled in the shell, fermented celeriac and a broth of celeriac, apple and smoked butter
Celeriac cooked with preserved scallop roe
Celeriac cooked with preserved scallop roe . Probably the least interesting dish of the night
The bread serving, which we found out a few weeks later resembled that of Ylajali a lot in looks. Sourdough bread of freshly milled wheat and emmer, served with butter churned until almost separated.
The bread serving, which we found out a few weeks later resembled that of Ylajali a lot in looks. Sourdough bread of freshly milled wheat and emmer, served with butter churned until almost separated.
Anders listening to Pontus explain about wines
Anders listening to Pontus explain about wines
Esben wanted to take us back to his childhood with this dish of potatoes cooked with aromatics, “Norwegian gravy” and preserved rhubarb.
Esben wanted to take us back to his childhood with this dish of potatoes cooked with aromatics, “Norwegian gravy” and preserved rhubarb.
André attempting to capture Esben’s precision plating
André attempting to capture Esben’s precision plating
Dried beets glazed in birch sap, currant and chamomile infusion with caramelized yeast.
Dried beets glazed in birch sap, currant and chamomile infusion with caramelized yeast.
Sour cream porridge with smoked, shaved reindeer heart, butter and plum vinegar
Sour cream porridge with smoked, shaved reindeer heart, butter and plum vinegar
Andrea and André with Bjørvika in the background
Andrea and André with Bjørvika in the background
Charred onions and quail egg gently cooked in roasted bone marrow, with aged “fenalår” and onion vinaigrette.
Charred onions and quail egg gently cooked in roasted bone marrow, with aged “fenalår” and onion vinaigrette.
The most surprising serving of evening. Salted sheep ribs (“pinnekjøtt) served with cabbage from Fokhol glazed with rendered lamb fat and vinegar.
The most surprising serving of evening. Salted sheep ribs (“pinnekjøtt) served with cabbage from Fokhol glazed with rendered lamb fat and vinegar.
Frozen blue cheese with pickled black trumpet mushrooms. An entirely new way to experience blue cheese.
Frozen blue cheese with pickled black trumpet mushrooms. An entirely new way to experience blue cheese.
Cold horseradish with grilled cucumber and the first sorrel
Cold horseradish with grilled cucumber and the first sorrel
This dish was simply called “the smell of the blackcurrant bush”. Stunning presentation and flavors.
This dish was simply called “the smell of the blackcurrant bush”. Stunning presentation and flavors.
Brown butter ice cream with hazelnut crumble and molasses. This dish is worth the visit alone.
Brown butter ice cream with hazelnut crumble and molasses. This dish is worth the visit alone.

Tim Wendelboe coffee

Coffee is taken just as serious as any other beverage at Maaemo. We love it! The coffee of choice is Tim Wendelboe “Finca Tamana” and the brewing method is the very traditional way of boiling coffee in a coffee pot. Pontus made sure to remove the bitter layer of foam that forms on the top before he served it. The result? The best restaurant coffee we’ve had, to date.

Brown cheese tart.
Brown cheese tart.
Liquid waffle with mountain tea made only from wild herbs found in Bøverdalen
Liquid waffle with mountain tea made only from wild herbs found in Bøverdalen
Traditional Norwegian pastries. Anders and André racing to finish the donuts. “Krumkaker” on the right side.
Traditional Norwegian pastries. Anders and André racing to finish the donuts. “Krumkaker” on the right side.
André believes this dish is very similar to the first one we had
André believes this dish is very similar to the first one we had
We finish where we started. This time it is a dessert, though. Lightly frozen fresh cheese (Nyr) from Grøndalen farm with sea buckthorn.
We finish where we started. This time it is a dessert, though. Lightly frozen fresh cheese (Nyr) from Grøndalen farm with sea buckthorn.
The envelope we got from Maaemo is opened the next morning
The envelope we got from Maaemo is opened the next morning
Inside we find beautiful pictures of Norwegian landscape and of course the full menu we ate
Inside we find beautiful pictures of Norwegian landscape and of course the full menu we ate

This was originally posted on my old blog Two Foodies Eating which I had together with Andrea.

This restaurant has since achieved three Michelin stars. Read my updated post.

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