Review: Kontrast (2015) A Fresh New Start For Mikael Svensson

Restaurant Kontrast by the Swedish chef Mikael Svensson is not new in Oslo per se. However, it recently closed down its old venue at the Carlton hotel Guldsmeden in Skillebekk and moved to Vulkan. We were actually at the old space in February this year to check out the final menu before they left. The new location is just above Mathallen, and it opened this Wednesday, the 8th of April, 2015. The new Kontrast means a fresh start for Mikael Svensson, where he can follow his dream more closely and design the place as he always wanted it to be from the ground up. The contrasts are indeed quite visible compared to the old place. Interior wise, the new venue has a more open, clean, and modern design with a lot of concrete, wood, and steel. There’s an open kitchen, floor-to-ceiling windows, and designer furniture and lamps.

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The liver was served with a small piece of brioche bread. The wine pairing was a sparkling wine from the Loire valley.
The liver was served with a small piece of brioche bread. The wine pairing was a sparkling wine from the Loire valley.

A Fresh New Start For Mikael Svensson

We had a table at 6 o’clock in the evening on the first opening day. We arrived 20 minutes late, but the place was still empty. This gave us some time to take a look around, snap a few shots, and decide on which table we wanted. The waiter was very understanding when we wanted a wooden table for better light and prettier food pictures. Nerd alert!

The menu looked similar to the old Kontrast – simple and short with the possibility to add a few extra dishes. We ordered the Kontraster tasting menu, but added the løyrom dish since we are suckers for that. Going for the wine pairing was an easy choice as we got some pretty decent wines last time. Slowly, but steadily the place was filling up with more guests as well.

We like the new Kontrast even better than the old one. The location and design of the place is a major upgrade. The food is slightly better, even though the style has been kept quite the same. We loved most of the wine pairing, and our waiters were excellent. We will definitely come back! Read the image captions for more details and our impression of each dish.

Update: Chef Mikael Svensson and Restaurant Kontrast just got one Michelin star in the 2016 guide! Congrats!

Bricks against a clear blue sky. The contrasts are everywhere to be found at Kontrast.
Bricks against a clear blue sky. The contrasts are everywhere to be found at Kontrast.
An empty restaurant met us as we entered as the first guests at the new location.
An empty restaurant met us as we entered as the first guests at the new location.
Head chef and owner Mikael Svensson.
Head chef and owner Mikael Svensson.
The Kontrast menu.
The Kontrast menu.
An amuse-bouche to start off the meal. Cauliflower, oyster cream, and chocolate praline. The first contrast of the meal. Savory and sweet at the same time. A great combination.
An amuse-bouche to start off the meal. Cauliflower, oyster cream, and chocolate praline. The first contrast of the meal. Savory and sweet at the same time. A great combination.
"Løyrom" from Kalix with a lot going on in the plate. Potato chips on the top, a horseradish ice cream, and an acidic and fresh sauce with dill. It looked spectacular and tasted quite good, but it had too many elements in our opinion.
“Løyrom” from Kalix with a lot going on in the plate. Potato chips on the top, a horseradish ice cream, and an acidic and fresh sauce with dill. It looked spectacular and tasted quite good, but it had too many elements in our opinion.
The new restaurant is more open and clean, big windows give it a great natural light while the sun is up and the lamps over each table make food bloggers happy later on.
The new restaurant is more open and clean, big windows give it a great natural light while the sun is up and the lamps over each table make food bloggers happy later on.
Duck liver from Holte gård with meadowsweet, hidden under pickled cucumbers and crispy duck fat. Our favorite dish of the evening!
Duck liver from Holte gård with meadowsweet, hidden under pickled cucumbers and crispy duck fat. Our favorite dish of the evening!
Organic carrots and tarragon. The cream in the middle was made of egg yolk, anchovies, and tarragon. The sauce was made of brown butter, carrot juice, seabuckthorn, and more tarragon. The carrots underneath were baked and caramelized and the ones on top were sliced and lightly cooked. Finally, there was fresh tarragon and Bishop’s weed on top.
Organic carrots and tarragon. The cream in the middle was made of egg yolk, anchovies, and tarragon. The sauce was made of brown butter, carrot juice, seabuckthorn, and more tarragon. The carrots underneath were baked and caramelized and the ones on top were sliced and lightly cooked. Finally, there was fresh tarragon and Bishop’s weed on top.
The bread serving: Rye and spelt bread. Butter from Røros. Simple.
The bread serving: Rye and spelt bread. Butter from Røros. Simple.
The new restaurant has an open kitchen, similar to many modern restaurants these days.
The new restaurant has an open kitchen, similar to many modern restaurants these days.
Skate with browned cream and ceps gel, covered in thinly-sliced champignon mushrooms. The skate wing was marinated in rosemary and seared on the grill. This was our least favorite dish of the evening as the fish was too raw, with a slimy and jelly-like consistency. According to our waiter, it was meant to be like that. We’re not so convinced.
Skate with browned cream and ceps gel, covered in thinly-sliced champignon mushrooms. The skate wing was marinated in rosemary and seared on the grill. This was our least favorite dish of the evening as the fish was too raw, with a slimy and jelly-like consistency. According to our waiter, it was meant to be like that. We’re not so convinced.
Mangalitsa pork from a farm in Svartskog with cabbage and ramson. The Mangalitsa pork (wrapped in the cabbage) is a rare Hungarian breed of woolen, hairy pigs with fatty, marbled meat. It has been called the Kobe/Wagyu of pork meat. It was very flavorful and tender at the same time.
Mangalitsa pork from a farm in Svartskog with cabbage and ramson. The Mangalitsa pork (wrapped in the cabbage) is a rare Hungarian breed of woolen, hairy pigs with fatty, marbled meat. It has been called the Kobe/Wagyu of pork meat. It was very flavorful and tender at the same time.
Rhubarb with condensed milk and cress. Underneath were cooked rhubarbs in chunks and slices. On top, was a rhubarb granité and condensed milk in a powdery creamy variety. Garden cress and our favorite nasturtium were sprinkled over. This dish was quite tasty if you like rhubarb, but there was a lot going on on the plate and you really had to get a bit of everything together to get the full experience.
Rhubarb with condensed milk and cress. Underneath were cooked rhubarbs in chunks and slices. On top, was a rhubarb granité and condensed milk in a powdery creamy variety. Garden cress and our favorite nasturtium were sprinkled over. This dish was quite tasty if you like rhubarb, but there was a lot going on on the plate and you really had to get a bit of everything together to get the full experience.
Sorbet of goat’s milk yogurt, salty caramel, organic chocolate, fresh chervil, and chervil dust. The caramel was very tasty, but the sorbet was a bit bland. The chocolate didn’t really add anything to the dish. The chervil, however, was interesting. Weird, but good!
Sorbet of goat’s milk yogurt, salty caramel, organic chocolate, fresh chervil, and chervil dust. The caramel was very tasty, but the sorbet was a bit bland. The chocolate didn’t really add anything to the dish. The chervil, however, was interesting. Weird, but good!
The bill in a box. Design by Serax, like most of the plates of the evening. The coffee was Finca Tamana from Tim Wendelboe. Regular filter coffee, but very tasty. Unfortunately, Kontrast did not offer any petits fours yet.
The bill in a box. Design by Serax, like most of the plates of the evening. The coffee was Finca Tamana from Tim Wendelboe. Regular filter coffee, but very tasty. Unfortunately, Kontrast did not offer any petits fours yet.
Focused chefs!
Focused chefs!

Have you been to the old or new Kontrast? Feel free to leave a comment below with your experience.

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Anders Husa

Anders Husa and Kaitlin Orr are food & travel bloggers and creative content creators. From their base in Copenhagen, they operate the largest and most influential restaurant-focused travel blog in Scandinavia.

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