In 2020, chef Luke Henderson opened two new Oslo restaurants that became instant successes: The Tea Room, an intimate fine dining restaurant, and Imperial, the wine bar next door. Now, Henderson also has exciting plans for 2021 – this March, he will open a casual restaurant together with Marco Mogueis and Sandra Kristiansen. Kristiansen will be the general manager and Marcello Tiboni (formerly of Maaemo and Katla) will be the head chef. The Little Pickle is located at Jens Bjelkes gate 9 (in the former Heimatt venue) in the Grünerløkka neighborhood.
Update: Due to the tragic death of Luke Henderson, several people mentioned in this article are no longer involved.
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THE LITTLE PICKLE Address & Contact Information Jens Bjelkes gate 9, Oslo, Norway Instagram Facebook
The Little Pickle Opens in Oslo
Three good friends had a dream of opening a restaurant in their own neighborhood. Sandra Kristiansen (co-owner and general manager of Lulu) first joined forces with Luke Henderson a year and a half ago when they opened The Tea Room together (where she is also the general manager). Marco Mogueis (the head chef of Lulu) also joined the trio as a co-owner. The head chef will be Marcello Tiboni – he has been working as sous chef of The Tea Room for the last year, and previously was the sous chef at Maaemo and Katla.
The friends live in the neighborhood (literally down the street) so when the old venue of Heimatt became available, they decided to go for it. They’ve been dreaming of having a great restaurant near home, and so they decided to create it themselves. The concept is simple – focused on good, honest cooking and local, organic produce. The Little Pickle will serve the food they want to eat and the wine they want to drink. The space is quite large, with 80 seats in total, including a bar with seating around it for people to drop in for a glass of wine or a small dish. Reservations will be available for the rest of the restaurant.
What To Expect on The Little Pickle’s Menu
Taking inspiration from popular London restaurants like St. John and The Laughing Heart (where Henderson previously worked), the team plans to craft a menu based on large sharing plates supplemented by smaller dishes. The style will be delicious home cooking – relaxed and not challenging for anyone’s palate. The restaurant will be much less ambitious than their fine dining restaurant, The Tea Room; at The Little Pickle, there will be fewer frills and more freedom. The goal is for the place to be entirely food-focused, a late night hangout where chefs want to come in after work or on their days off.
Noticing that there is not much on offer on Sundays in Oslo, Henderson plans to start Sunday roast dinners at The Little Pickle. All of the hearty British fare you dream of will be on the plate, including roasted meat, potatoes, cabbage, pickles, gravy, stuffing, and, of course, Yorkshire pudding. “It’s a bit like the American Thanksgiving food, except we eat it every single week!” Henderson laughed when explaining the glory of the Sunday roast.
Other days, the menu will include whole fish and larger cuts of meat, cooked over an open fire. Local produce will be the focus of the menu – they have a collaboration with Dagens, a company that champions small, independent farmers by linking them directly to restaurants. One way in which The Little Pickle is working to be sustainable is by taking in whole animals and using all the cuts of meat in different dishes. They will also work with local farms, buying chicken from Hovelsrud Gård, pigs from Heinrich Jung, vegetables from Bergsmyrene Gård, oysters from Arnevik Gård, and other local Norwegian fishmongers.
In terms of smaller dishes, Henderson plans to serve various terrines and pâtés, as well as pull-apart potato bread rolls (similar to the fluffy buns served at The Tea Room). For dessert, a full selection of British puddings, trifles, and tarts will be on offer, including a steamed syrup pudding and Henderson’s signature custard tart. Save room for dessert!
Natural wine lovers will be thrilled to hear that small, honest producers are at the heart of their wine list – although there will be a few classic French bottles available, too. After a bit of poking and prodding, Henderson and Kristiansen revealed that their wine list actually includes lots of our favorite natural wine producers. (Yippee!) The Little Pickle will also have a small selection of beer and juices, as well as picklebacks, in tribute to their name.
“The Little Pickle is a place we were searching for ourselves. There’s few places like this in Oslo,” Henderson said to us in an interview. “Yeah, It’s a little bit like we’re making a restaurant for ourselves. It’s what we want to eat, and what we want to drink,” Kristiansen added. Well, it sounds like a place we want to eat too! The Little Pickle will be an exciting new addition to Oslo’s culinary scene.
Opening a Restaurant in the Middle of a Pandemic
You might be wondering, is now the best time to open a restaurant? It’s no secret that the last year has not been easy on the food industry, and the light at the end of the Corona tunnel is still pretty dim. But for Henderson and Kristiansen, there was no other way. “It makes perfect sense to open a restaurant right now!” Kristiansen laughed, “We have the drive and passion for it. There’s no way we could not do this.” Well, as Churchill once said, “never waste a good crisis,” – right?
At least the current lockdown in Norway has given them the time to renovate the space. Henderson and Kristiansen are doing all the work in the venue themselves, from painting, to interior design, to picking out furniture. At 243 square meters, the space is substantial, but it still has a lot of charm and character in its bones. The building has old wooden floors, open brick walls, and concrete, which gives it a cozy, industrial vibe. They don’t plan to change too much of the venue, and will focus on highlighting the features they love, like the huge floor to ceiling windows. “It’s been a nice journey,” Kristiansen said, “It’s so much more personalized, since we’re doing everything ourselves. It’s been a fun process.”
Henderson said they are on target for an early March opening. Since the venue is so roomy, they can space guests out comfortably until the end of the pandemic, even with the ever-changing government restrictions. And if the alcohol ban in restaurants continues this spring, the team still will open as planned and focus on serving juice in lieu of wine and beer.
Why “The Little Pickle?”
Henderson explained that the restaurant’s name stems from the fact that all three owners are from different countries – he is from the UK, Kristiansen is from Korea, and Mogueis is from the Philippines. Despite their differing cultural backgrounds, each food culture always has condiments and pickles around – it’s a common ground for everyone. “Besides, it makes sense to have little pickles on the side to marry the smaller plates together with the largest plates,” Henderson added. Well, it might be named The Little Pickle, but we’re pretty sure this restaurant opening is going to be a big dill. 😉
The Little Pickle will be open six or seven days a week. On Wednesday through Saturday, Henderson plans to remain in the kitchen at The Tea Room, but he will spend the rest of his time at the new restaurant. The restaurant will begin by serving dinner and weekend lunch for now, but plans to serve lunch every day in the future.
What does the future hold for Henderson and Kristiansen? We certainly are hoping for more great restaurants! This is just the next chapter for Henderson and his team, and we are eager for the rest of their story to unfold.
Are you looking forward to eating at The Little Pickle? Let us know in a comment below.