There’s a real gem of a restaurant in Oslo that truly puts Norway 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, chef Esben Holmboe Bang made history again by becoming the first Nordic chef to get three Michelin stars. I had heard rumors about ten confirmed visits to Maaemo by the inspectors, and two more unconfirmed. Several visits included the guide’s editor Rebecca Burr, and at least one featured the Michelin international director Michael Ellis himself. That meant, as a minimum, that Maaemo had been seriously considered for a third star. Today the rumors were confirmed at the Michelin launch ceremony at Hotel D’Angleterre in Copenhagen, where Maaemo, along with Copenhagen restaurant Geranium, got three stars. Congrats to chef Esben Holmboe Bang and his team, and congrats to Oslo!
The First Nordic Three Michelin-Starred Restaurant
What is happening in the kitchen of Maaemo, across the steel bridge from Barcode, behind those glass walls, is so incredibly unique and impressive. I’ve had the pleasure of eating dinner here three times now. The first experience was in the main restaurant room downstairs in January 2013, the second was at the chef’s table upstairs in March 2015, and the final meal was lunch in mid-February 2016 (see pictures from that meal in this article below). Maaemo has evolved drastically over the years. 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 previous version. For my third visit, the number of dishes had actually been reduced to 21, but the flavors were more focused than ever. Maaemo is not just about presenting food as art on your plate. This restaurant also introduces you to the most important flavors of the Norwegian food culture and landscape.
Lunch at Maaemo’s Chef’s Table (February 2016)
On the 13th of February this year, just days before the Michelin ceremony, I joined a Saturday lunch reservation at the chef’s table. The table featured Julie from Julies Matblogg, Linn from the wine blog Vinstudinen, and Lars from Lars Spiser (check out his report from this meal).
The chef’s table is a marbled table on the second floor, which seats an absolute maximum of six people. It gives you a unique view of the kitchen with the chefs working, as long as 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 flexible on the dates. I was actually surprised to see Esben in the kitchen this day because he broke his leg only four weeks ago. But there he was, with a wooden cane for support and a metal rod inside his leg. If that’s not an example of a hard-working, dedicated chef, then I don’t know one.
Our lunch would not have been as great without the exceptional service we received from the 22-year-old assistant restaurant manager 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.
Please enjoy some pictures from that meal below and/or watch the video I made above.
Do you plan to eat at Maaemo in the future? Please leave a comment if you have any questions.