Review: Maaemo (2017) Esben Holmboe Bang is Only Getting Better

After my sixth visit to Maaemo in Oslo – Norway’s only three-Michelin-starred restaurant – all I could think was: “Damn it, how could it be even better than my previous meals here?” I always tell people they have to go to Maaemo at least once in their life. Yes, it’s expensive, but most people can afford the experience if they really want to. I promise you – it’s worth every buck. Skip that weekend in London, or postpone purchasing some expensive commodity you don’t really need. Or just save the money from two or three other mediocre restaurant meals you would have instead.

Fortress Maaemo – the pride of Norway.
Fortress Maaemo – the pride of Norway.

Esben Holmboe Bang is Only Getting Better

This time, I won’t bore you with a long essay on how fantastic a meal at Maaemo is. I’ll mainly let the pictures speak for themselves. If you want to read more details about the restaurant, you can check my spring visit to Maaemo in 2015, my winter lunch in 2016 (just before they got the third star), and my autumn dinner the same year. This was my first summertime visit to Maaemo. That’s not even supposed to be a good season for seafood and a lot of other Norwegian produce. Yet, it was mind-blowingly amazing once again. What I love about Maaemo, is that you always get the classics – the dishes you crave – like the oyster, the sour cream porridge, and the brown butter ice cream. But you’re always surprised by the latest creations: a crispy duck foot, a perfected chicken breast, or a pure delight of a strawberry dessert. Did I mention the dry-aged beef fat waffles?

When it comes to food experiences, Maaemo is the pride of Norway. Esben has received the maximum number of Michelin stars, and, as far as I am concerned, they are not going anywhere anytime soon. In one way, you could say that Maaemo has reached the pinnacle of the culinary world. Yet, the quality on the plate keeps developing and improving year after year. Climbing on the World’s 50th Best Restaurants-list is one of the few ways ahead in terms of international accolades. Such an achievement would require visits from chefs and foodies from all over the world. Maaemo is definitely on the right path. Judging from how many of my fellow foodies who have been here lately, I would say Maaemo should expect an advancement next year. In order to really get a boost, though, more people need to understand that Oslo is a culinary destination worth visiting not only for Maaemo, but also for restaurants like Kontrast, Bokbacka, Pjoltergeist, Omakase by Alex Cabiao, and À L’aise.

Maaemo by Esben-Holmboe Bang.
Maaemo by Esben-Holmboe Bang.
Duck feet cooked with grains, duck liver, and fermented cherry juice.
Duck feet cooked with grains, duck liver, and fermented cherry juice.
"Lompe" (potato pancake) with fermented trout and horseradish.
“Lompe” (potato pancake) with fermented trout and horseradish.
Head sommelier Magnus Nørsett.
Head sommelier Magnus Nørsett.
The exterior of Maaemo has been given a green facelift.
The exterior of Maaemo has been given a green facelift.
Lightly pickled mackerel from the Oslo Fjord, ramson, apple, and seasonal flowers.
Lightly pickled mackerel from the Oslo Fjord, ramson, apple, and seasonal flowers.
Plating as pretty as this is art.
Plating as pretty as this is art.
Bread made from freshly milled Norwegian heritage wheat served with Maaemo's own butter.
Bread made from freshly milled Norwegian heritage wheat served with Maaemo’s own butter.
Chicken from Hovelsrud cooked with smoked butter, cabbage, and nettles with wood ants.
Chicken from Hovelsrud cooked with smoked butter, cabbage, and nettles with wood ants.
My table companions had flown in from different corners of the world.
My table companions had flown in from different corners of the world.
View from the test kitchen.
View from the test kitchen.
Frozen "Fønix" blue cheese from Stavanger Ysteri, with pickled black trumpet mushrooms.
Frozen “Fønix” blue cheese from Stavanger Ysteri, with pickled black trumpet mushrooms.
Sunset on Bjørvika and Oslo central train station.
Sunset on Bjørvika and Oslo central train station.
Head of R&D at Maaemo, Rob Jacob Drennan.
Head of R&D at Maaemo, Rob Jacob Drennan.
Brown butter ice cream with molasses and roasted hazelnuts.
Brown butter ice cream with molasses and roasted hazelnuts.
Norwegian waffles made with beef fat and koji grains, brown cheese spread, preserved berries, and whipped sour cream.
Norwegian waffles made with beef fat and koji grains, brown cheese spread, preserved berries, and whipped sour cream.
We bid farewell to Maaemo on this beautiful summer night.
We bid farewell to Maaemo on this beautiful summer night.

Have you not been to Maaemo yet? I’d like to hear whether or not you are considering going, and why. Drop me a line in the comments below.

6 comments

  • I´m going there next saturday, reading this is getting me even more excited than I though was possible.

  • Haha! This will be my first visit to Maaemo, you have been there six times. I think I have the right to claim the title as the jealous one 🙂

  • Having enjoyed an utterly remarkable lunch at Maaemo last week I am hoping to return in the not too distant future. My meal was extraordinary, as I had expected. It also had an added dimension which made it even more special: As a Norwegian the experience was very evocative of both my national heritage and of personal memories and emotions. For a foreigner with an interest in Norwegian culture and the Norwegian “soul”, so to speak, a meal at Maaemo could be really instructive as well as astonishingly delicious. Decidedly one of the greatest food experiences of my life.

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