Three Michelin Stars to Maaemo! Experience a Meal at the Best Nordic Restaurant

Oslo has a gem of a restaurant, which truly puts us on the culinary map of the world. That is Maaemo. In 2012 Maaemo made history by becoming the first ever Nordic restaurant to get listed directly in the Michelin guide with two stars. This year they’ve had ten confirmed visits from the inspectors, and two more unconfirmed, according to trustworthy sources. Several visits included the guide’s editor Rebecca Burr, and at least one featured the Michelin international director Michael Ellis. That meant, as a minimum, that Maaemo had been seriously considered for a third star. Today they got it, along with restaurant Geranium in Copenhagen! Congrats to Esben Holmboe Bang and his team and congrats to Oslo!

This dish is worth the meal alone!
This dish is worth the meal alone!

What is happening across the steel bridge from Barcode, behind those glass walls, is so unique, incredibly impressive and completely breathtaking! I’ve had the pleasure of eating dinner here twice before. The first experience was in the main restaurant room downstairs in January 2013, and the second was at the chef’s table upstairs in March 2015. Maaemo evolved so drastically in those two years, and even more to date. In 2013 they called it a ten-course menu, but we had a total of 24 servings. In 2015 the menu featured 28 dishes, where each one was more spectacular than the two-year-old versions. This time the amount was actually reduced to 21 plates, but more than ever the menu is extremely focused. Maaemo is not just about presenting food as art on your plate. This restaurant manages what few others do, by introducing you to the most important flavors of the Norwegian food culture & landscape.

Once you've been behind these glass walls, your perception of a good restaurant changes forever
Once you’ve been behind these glass walls, your perception of a good restaurant changes forever
The view to Barcode
The view to Barcode

On the 13th of February I joined the ultimate Maaemo booking: lunch on a Saturday at the chef’s table. Allow me to introduce parts of my table company, because it was quite the foodie meet-up. Julie from Julies Matblogg should be familiar to regular readers, and the same goes for Linn who writes the wine blog Vinstudinen. My latest acquaintance Lars is almost as nuts as me about food. Check his blog Lars Spiser, and his report from this very dinner. Eating with other foodies gives you some extreme advantages. First of all, no one cares that you’re documenting your meal like it’s a fucking Spielberg movie. Second, everyone applaudes the idea of sharing one wine menu and one juice menu between two people.

Lars Spiser says goodbye to friends and loved ones in case he dies of happiness inside Maaemo
Lars Spiser says goodbye to friends and loved ones in case he dies of happiness inside Maaemo
A Charles Heidsieck Champagne to kick of a Saturday lunch at the Chef's table
A Charles Heidsieck Champagne to kick of a Saturday lunch at the Chef’s table
The girls occupied one side of the Chef's table. Julie, Camilla and Linn
The girls occupied one side of the Chef’s table. Julie, Camilla and Linn

The chef’s table is a marble table at the second floor, which seats an absolute maximum of six people. It gives you a unique view of the kitchen with the chefs working, and you accept that the restaurant may test new dishes on you. Anyone can book it. You just need to know about it, ask for it, and be a bit flexbile on the dates. I was acutally surprised to see Esben in the kitchen this day, because he broke his leg badly only 4 weeks ago! But there he was, with a wooden cane for support and a metal rod inside his leg. What a hardworking, dedicated and bad ass chef!

Esben was at work despite a broken leg. That's dedication!
Esben was at work despite a broken leg. That’s dedication!
Pickled red onion filled with yogurt, dusted with roses. This was a brand new snack to kick off the meal, replacing the two classic dishes with Nýr that both started and ended the meal.
Pickled red onion filled with yogurt, dusted with roses. This was a brand new snack to kick off the meal, replacing the two classic dishes with Nýr that both started and ended the meal.
Crispy chicken skin biscuit, langoustine claw and brain, a thin film of mead with elderflowers on top
Crispy chicken skin biscuit, langoustine claw and brain, a thin film of mead with elderflowers on top

Our lunch would not have been as great without the exceptional service we received from 22 year-old Benjamin Ausland. He’s been mentioned in the media several times as being the only Norwegian at Maaemo, and he still is. At the moment he replaced the role of Pontus Dahlström, who was our waiter and sommelier at the chef’s table last time. First and foremost, however, he was our host, and so was Benjamin this time. Watch out in the near future, as you might just find him opening some bottles at the wine bar Territoriet.

Benjamin pours one of the best drinks of the meal from this awesome vintage spuma. Riesling Halbtrocken Felseneck, Schafer-Fröhlich 2009, Nache, Germany
Benjamin pours one of the best drinks of the meal from this awesome vintage spuma. Riesling Halbtrocken Felseneck, Schafer-Fröhlich 2009, Nache, Germany
A bite you don't forget. One of my favorite servings of this meal.
A bite you don’t forget. One of my favorite servings of this meal.
A varm biscuit with flavor of mushrooms and fried chicken wings
A varm biscuit with flavor of mushrooms and fried chicken wings
Underneath the red wood sorrel is a heavenly rich, sticky, sweet cream of caramelized Jerusalem artichokes, cooked with buckwheat, chamomile & ramsons
Underneath the red wood sorrel is a heavenly rich, sticky, sweet cream of caramelized Jerusalem artichokes, cooked with buckwheat, chamomile & ramsons
To scoop up the cream, we got these crispy skins of Jerusalem artichoke
To scoop up the cream, we got these crispy skins of Jerusalem artichoke
Cornets filled with caramelized yeast and smoked "løyrom" - vendace roe
Cornets filled with caramelized yeast and smoked “løyrom” – vendace roe
Fermented mountain trout, grilled leek and a garum (fermented fish sauce) of summer mackerel. I swear I didn't even notice any of the strong flavors you'd expect from a fermented fish dish. This was so soft and balanced. Mesmerizing!
Fermented mountain trout, grilled leek and a garum (fermented fish sauce) of summer mackerel. I swear I didn’t even notice any of the strong flavors you’d expect from a fermented fish dish. This was so soft and balanced. Mesmerizing!
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.
These huge fresh scallops were brought to our table before the kitchen prepared them for us
These huge fresh scallops were brought to our table before the kitchen prepared them for us
A signature Maaemo dish that's always on the menu
A signature Maaemo dish that’s always on the menu
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

This dish in the amazing and peculiar ceramics bowl is worth a special mention. The plate is designed and produced by the small company Odd Standard in Stavanger. As the name indicates, they have one collection of odd products and one selection of standard ones. This particular is an odd one, made especially for Maaemo. I attended the 5-year-anniversary lunch of restaurant Geranium in November last year, and Esben was one of the chef’s who were invited to partake. He made the exact same dish, and had even brought the plates along! The only difference was that he added the ingredient geranium to the dish. A nice gesture to Rasmu Kofoed and the team. I’ll definately share my full experience from this day in a later post.

Scallops from Frøya marinated in fermented tea (kombucha), smoked cream underneath, white currants and heather
Scallops from Frøya marinated in fermented tea (kombucha), smoked cream underneath, white currants and heather
Scallops from Frøya grilled in their own shell, winter apples and celeriac
Scallops from Frøya grilled in their own shell, winter apples and celeriac
Fromt the Chef's table we could watch the langoustines being fried in large amounts of butter
Fromt the Chef’s table we could watch the langoustines being fried in large amounts of butter
Langoustine from Midsund, cold pressed rapeseed oil and pickled spruce
Langoustine from Midsund, cold pressed rapeseed oil and pickled spruce

At Maaemo it’s all about evolving and getting better every day. Maaemo are creative, they are original, and they invent what others copy. When they get copied often enough, they change it up. That’s what happened to the famous langoustine serving. It used to be a spectacular show with dry ice creating a fog that covered the table. Now you see that effect used everywhere, and as such Esben has decided to stop. The flavors and aromas of this signature dish are still there, though. The same goes for the bread serving at Maaemo, whose looks so many places immitated. At the moment it’s replaced by a potato pancake dish in stead, and the butter servings they’ve created to go along makes it one of the most memorable dishes I ever ate.

Esben had decided to skip the fancy presentation with dry ice to make a fog effect, since so many other restaurants does that now
Esben had decided to skip the fancy presentation with dry ice to make a fog effect, since so many other restaurants does that now
Potato pancakes replaces the bread serving!
Potato pancakes replaces the bread serving!
On the left is a ridiculously tasty butter with "pinnekjøtt" (salted sheep) aroma. On the left is fat from happy pigs.
On the left is a ridiculously tasty butter with “pinnekjøtt” (salted sheep) aroma. On the left is fat from happy pigs.
Spread some love on that potato bread
Spread some love on that potato bread
This great Irish chef came out to showcase the turbot during cooking
This great Irish chef came out to showcase the turbot during cooking
Can't complain when your food is plated by this beautiful tatooed arm
Can’t complain when your food is plated by this beautiful tatooed arm
Sea buckthorn juice!
Sea buckthorn juice!
Wild turbot cooked with the bones with aromatics, winter cabbage, grilled leek and fermented garlic sauce
Wild turbot cooked with the bones with aromatics, winter cabbage, grilled leek and fermented garlic sauce
Another signature dish! I love this one and had it on all previous Maaemo visits.
Another signature dish! I love this one and had it on all previous Maaemo visits. Sour cream porridge with smoked, shaved reindeer heart, butter and plum vinegar
Arbois Fleur de Savagnin, Domaine de la Tournelle, 2012, Jura, France
Arbois Fleur de Savagnin, Domaine de la Tournelle, 2012, Jura, France
Charred onions and quail egg cooked in bone marrow, pieces of aged "fenalår" (salted, dried and cured leg of lamb) and an onion vinaigrette with lemon thyme
Charred onions and quail egg cooked in bone marrow, pieces of aged “fenalår” (salted, dried and cured leg of lamb) and an onion vinaigrette with lemon thyme
The main dish!
The main dish!
Reindeer filet braised with juniper, served with reindeer lichen, truffle and lingonberries
Reindeer filet braised with juniper, served with reindeer lichen, truffle and lingonberries
Frozen blue cheese with pickled black trumpet mushrooms
Frozen blue cheese with pickled black trumpet mushrooms
A brand new dessert for the Chef's table to test! Grilled winter pears from Hardanger, Maaemo's own autumn honey and flavors from last season
A brand new dessert for the Chef’s table to test! Grilled winter pears from Hardanger, Maaemo’s own autumn honey and flavors from last season
Benedicte & Stephane Tissot, Macvin du Jura Blanc, France
Benedicte & Stephane Tissot, Macvin du Jura Blanc, France
A final signature dish, which I just cannot leave Maaemo without eating. Fuck me, this is amazing! Brown butter ice cream, coffee and hazelnuts, topped with more butter from Røros
A final signature dish, which I just cannot leave Maaemo without eating. Fuck me, this is amazing! Brown butter ice cream, coffee and hazelnuts, topped with more butter from Røros
The liquid waffle on a gel flavored with herbs from Bøverdalen. Another classic
The liquid waffle on a gel flavored with herbs from Bøverdalen. Another classic
The brown cheese tart
The brown cheese tart
Personally I love this, but others at my table found it rather ordinary. No wonder, if you've grown up with brown cheese, but imagine people who hasn't (i.e. most people)
Personally I love this, but others at my table found it rather ordinary. No wonder, if you’ve grown up with brown cheese, but imagine people who hasn’t (i.e. most people)
Hell's Kitchen, Farmhouse Ale, 6,66%, Rocket Brewing Company
Hell’s Kitchen, Farmhouse Ale, 6,66%, Rocket Brewing Company
Maaemo collects stars from the red guide. All the guides from their first listing in 2012 is lined up in a shelf. Now they can add the 2016 version, and be proud once again.
Maaemo collects stars from the red guide. All the guides from their first listing in 2012 is lined up in a shelf. Now they can add the 2016 version, and be proud once again.

Will you eat at Maamo before you die? Please leave a comment if you have any questions.

Lagre

Lagre

Lagre

Lagre

8 comments

Submit a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *