Gamle Raadhus A Modernized Classic Dining Experience!

Press invitation

I have been so busy the last couple of years with checking out new restaurants opening in Oslo, that I’ve almost forgotten about the good but classic restaurants that already exist here. Thus, I’ve set a goal to cover a few of the more “traditional” places as well, including institutions like the 18-years-in-a-row one Michelin star holder Statholdergaarden. Keep an eye out for that soon! My first trip went to Gamle Raadhus, located in one of the city’s oldest buildings in Nedre Slottsgate in Kvadraturen.

Gamle Raadhus is located at the western end of Kvadraturen in Oslo city
Gamle Raadhus is located at the western end of Kvadraturen in Oslo city
Marco pours a glass of Paul Delane as we enter
Marco pours a glass of Paul Delane as we enter

I was invited by Jørn Lie who also partly owns Vaaghals because he wanted to get my opinion on the menu they serve off Christmas season. During the months of October, November, and December this restaurant mostly serves traditional Norwegian dishes related to the Christmas celebration. However, the rest of the year they try to keep a classic, yet modern menu alive. Swedish head chef Ulf presented almost the entire menu for us this evening, made into a tasting menu of smaller servings, while our waiter Marco explained the wine pairings.

We enjoyed some bubbles in the glass and the first snack next to the cosy fireplace in the room to the left as you enter; Lauritz Ruus Bar
We enjoyed some bubbles in the glass and the first snack next to the cosy fireplace in the room to the left as you enter; Lauritz Ruus Bar
Santa Kristina ham from Tynset. The Norwegian parma! With caramelized walnuts. I wish there was even more caramel around the walnuts to add some sweetness and crunch
Santa Kristina ham from Tynset. The Norwegian parma! With caramelized walnuts. I wish there was even more caramel around the walnuts to add some sweetness and crunch

I recommend a pit stop in the Lauritz Ruus Bar on the left as you enter. I remembered having had lunch there in the winter season before and sitting next to the fireplace. We asked to have the aperitif and snack by the living flames before we moved to the dining hall for the main event. This place sets just the right mood for a dinner at Gamle Raadhus. The wind can blow, the rain can pour and the snow can fall as much as it wants outside. Inside it is warm and cozy.

Paul Delane, Crémant de Bourgogne, Blanc de Noirs. A top choice for me at the wine monopoly as well
Paul Delane, Crémant de Bourgogne, Blanc de Noirs. A top choice for me at the wine monopoly as well
A proper Berkel ham slicer machine in the middle of the restaurant
A proper Berkel ham slicer machine in the middle of the restaurant

As we progressed through the meal, we came closer to the conclusion that Gamle Raadhus really was a modernized classic. There are elements in many of the dishes, both the ingredients and style of presentation, which is closer to contemporary restaurants. Especially the starter of puffed crispy pork skin and vendace roe is something you might as well find in a place like Kontrast or Arakataka. Local produce like monkfish, scallops, venison, elk and Nordic cheese, berries and garnish dominate the menu.

Gotto love restaurants where you get the bread serving smack on the table as you sit down. Butter, oil AND mayo to choose from.
Gotto love restaurants where you get the bread serving smack on the table as you sit down. Butter, oil AND mayo to choose from.
Kalix "löjrom" from Bottenviken with puffed crispy pork skin, smoked sour cream from Røros, dill, pickled red onions, lemon and herb oil. The real bacon crisp! Proper pork flavor. A very well balanced dish. Sweet, salty and acidic with different textures
Kalix “löjrom” from Bottenviken with puffed crispy pork skin, smoked sour cream from Røros, dill, pickled red onions, lemon and herb oil. The real bacon crisp! Proper pork flavor. A very well balanced dish. Sweet, salty and acidic with different textures

At the same time, the style at Gamle Raadhus does not stray far from the traditional French cuisine either. Aperitif is followed by snacks, starters, a refreshing granita, main courses, cheeses, and dessert. The matching wines and drinks are quite classic as well; there are few if any natural wines on the list. The interior, presumably not changed for many a decade, makes it hard to imagine that you are somewhere highly modern. Yet again; what’s wrong with that? It is nice to experience a bit of contrast in your life.

Perfectly fried king scallops, pork knuckle terrine, chanterelle broth, pickled onions and salmon roe.
Perfectly fried king scallops, pork knuckle terrine, chanterelle broth, pickled onions and salmon roe.
Calles Riesling, Mittelheimer Edelmann, Spätlese Trocken 2013. Refreshing, fruity with a nice citrus acidity to balance
Calles Riesling, Mittelheimer Edelmann, Spätlese Trocken 2013. Refreshing, fruity with a nice citrus acidity to balance
Another splendid and tasty dish. Fatty and acidic and paired with the sweetness of the Riesling it was great.
Another splendid and tasty dish. Fatty and acidic and paired with the sweetness of the Riesling it was great.

If I could wish for some changes to Gamle Raadhus it would be to upgrade the various porcelain and ceramics they serve on, and do some changes to the outdated interior. By all means, keep it classic, but it would not harm to boost these elements somewhat. I know that Figgjo porcelain has more interesting plates in stock, and why not check if some exciting new Norwegian designers like Odd Standard could fit in as well? The same goes for the plating of the food. Half of it looks pretty decent, while the rest is a bit dull. Modern restaurants often plate the final touches to the dishes by the table. Preferably done by the chef, who then gets a chance to interact with the guests as well.

Carpaccio of deer from Skåne, fried duck liver, pickled chanterelles, fried endive, "Blåmandag" blue cheese from Den Blinde Ku, ghoa cress, balsamic jelly & thyme "snow". A most wonderful presentation, and stunning looking dish, but there are way too many elements fighting for attention. The meat is so tender and tasty, the chanterelles are lovely, but the blue cheese steals most of the flavor.
Carpaccio of deer from Skåne, fried duck liver, pickled chanterelles, fried endive, “Blåmandag” blue cheese from Den Blinde Ku, ghoa cress, balsamic jelly & thyme “snow”. A most wonderful presentation, and stunning looking dish, but there are way too many elements fighting for attention. The meat is so tender and tasty, the chanterelles are lovely, but the blue cheese steals most of the flavor.
Santenay Les Hâtes, René Lequin-Colin. A Burgundy Chardonnay with that lovely intense oaky aroma.
Santenay Les Hâtes, René Lequin-Colin. A Burgundy Chardonnay with that lovely intense oaky aroma.
Fried monkfish from Møre, wrapped in Santa Kristina ham from Tynset and fried in estragon. Carrot puree, orange soaked fennel and a basil sauce with browned butter. My goodness - heaven on a plate. You're left craving for more.
Fried monkfish from Møre, wrapped in Santa Kristina ham from Tynset and fried in estragon. Carrot puree, orange soaked fennel and a basil sauce with browned butter. My goodness – heaven on a plate. You’re left craving for more.

One thing is for sure: Gamle Raadhus is a restaurant in Oslo well worth a visit also outside the Christmas season. The menu is interesting and the chefs change it up and renew the dishes several times as the year progress. For some items, especially the carpaccio dish, they even try a bit too hard to combine modern and classic. Overall, we had a fabulous evening with great food and wine, and I would love to return to this place again. Although, judging from the calendar, it will probably be for “lutefisk” next time.

A refreshing basil granita with vodka & blackberry while we wait for the main dishes. Acidic and sweet, but a bit outdated and dull presentation.
A refreshing basil granita with vodka & blackberry while we wait for the main dishes. Acidic and sweet, but a bit outdated and dull presentation.
Venison from Skåne, homemade elk sausage, onion puree, butter poached red cabbage, kale oil and a cep veloutè. A touch of something acidic here and this would have been a touchdown!
Venison from Skåne, homemade elk sausage, onion puree, butter poached red cabbage, kale oil and a cep veloutè. A touch of something acidic here and this would have been a touchdown!
Chateau La Fleur Garderose, Saint-Emilion 2011. A typical heavy Bordeaux with an oaky aroma and taste of blackcurrants
Chateau La Fleur Garderose, Saint-Emilion 2011. A typical heavy Bordeaux with an oaky aroma and taste of blackcurrants
White chocolate cream, thyme and raspberry sorbet, crispy oats, raspberries, blackberries and blue berries. A tasty and well balanced dessert. It has sweetness, acidity and rich fatty elements. Soft and crunchy textures. The presentation could hav been more interesting, and the non-Norwegian blueberries should have been left out.
White chocolate cream, thyme and raspberry sorbet, crispy oats, raspberries, blackberries and blue berries. A tasty and well balanced dessert. It has sweetness, acidity and rich fatty elements. Soft and crunchy textures. The presentation could hav been more interesting, and the non-Norwegian blueberries should have been left out.
2005 Chateau de Myrat, Sauternes. Sweet, rich, yet easy to drink with flavors of lemon, honey, vanilla and tropical fruits
2005 Chateau de Myrat, Sauternes. Sweet, rich, yet easy to drink with flavors of lemon, honey, vanilla and tropical fruits
Gamle Raadhus has a relaxing backyard which is perfect in the spring and summer season
Gamle Raadhus has a relaxing backyard which is perfect in the spring and summer season
Entrance to the backyard "Raadhusgaarden". It is open from May 1st to September 1st
Entrance to the backyard “Raadhusgaarden”. It is open from May 1st to September 1st
Fresh delivery of organic vegetables from Toten
Fresh delivery of organic vegetables from Toten
And old well with a water pump
And old well with a water pump
Lunch preparations in the kitchen
Lunch preparations in the kitchen
Disclaimer

This was a press invitation by Gamle Raadhus. As always, the content reflects my sincere opinion and is my personal recommendation.

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