Tango is one of the absolute best restaurants in Stavanger. Located in the awesome looking concrete building on the eastern side of the harbor. The restaurant is on the ground floor – to the left as you enter through the main door. A bar on the right side serves cocktails and bar snacks, which is perfect for a drink before dinner or a casual night out. On sunny summer days you should share a bottle of wine and order grilled food on the rooftop in stead. For those who want the evening to last there’s a club on the third floor.
Tango was our best restaurant experience at the Gladmat food festival 2016. As if the prize from the Gladmat jury (where I took part) wasn’t enough, they were awarded the same honor from the regional newspaper Stavanger Aftenblad as well. I remember it was a very tight race between Tango and Fisketorget last year. The latter was a strong contender once again, but I think the fact that Tango had upped their game even more this year was a contributing factor to the victory.
This was only my second visit to restaurant Tango in Stavanger. Thus, I’ve never actually eaten here except during the Gladmat festival. I still want to experience a regular night once and I think it will be even better then. During a festival, there are so many disturbing elements outside the restaurant’s control – like loud music from neighboring venues. Also, possibly due to a large number of visiting guests this night, the timing was off between each of the courses we got – varying from 15 to 30 minutes. Even 15 minutes can be a long wait with such small servings. However, this was all minor details and I found that the quality of the food has evolved quite a bit from last year.
Television chef and co-owner Kjartan Skjelde has a strong team now. Tommy Raanti is the general manager and Gunnar Hvarnes has some kind of advisory role, I believe. The restaurant manager Pål Gøran Stolt-Larsen Pettersen is a very hospitable and polite guy, who welcomes all guests with a heartfelt smile as they arrive. That’s always a great start to a dinner! In the kitchen, Jonas Sundquist has taken the food even closer to the pure new Nordic style that you’ll find in some of the best Scandinavian restaurants. Clearly, Tango has engaged foragers to gather local flowers and plants, which plays a role in almost every dish. A mix of Odd Standard, Figgjo and Congusto ceramics are used, with cleaner and better-looking presentations compared to last year. The local produce is even more in focus and there’s less molecular fuss going on.
The langoustine with rose hip purée and caramelized butter was my favorite dish. André Blomberg-Nygård pointed out that Nordic restaurants are getting dangerously close to how undercooked seafood should be. I liked the raw consistency of this langoustine, though, with a slightly burnt surface. A very subtle tasting rose hip purée gave the dish extra sweetness, while the delicious caramelized butter added salt, fat and umami flavor. This balance is what makes the dish so irresistibly tasty!
I would scoop up the fermented lemon sauce from the turbot serving with a piece of bread if I had more left. Unfortunately, it was all gone. The second main dish of lamb from Jæren had a great flavor and texture. Tender in the middle with a Maillard crust. Accompanied by fresh green peas, thinly sliced red beets and the tiny Hommersåk potatoes from Gyda’s farm. I still remember them from last year. We all agreed that the chicken hearts and cheese serving were the two weakest plates. I did not understand the combination with rhubarb compote in the former. As for the latter, Fjelltopp is possibly the best Norwegian goat cheese we have, but freezing it in big chunks does not give it justice. That trick worked way better with the blue cheese powder at Maaemo.
When the Michelin guide finally visited Stavanger for the very first time last year, they found Tango worthy of a mention, but not a star quite yet. There’s no doubt that Tango is headed in the right direction, though. It’s impossible to guess exactly where the Michelin inspectors deducted points. It could be minor details with the food or service, but we’ll never know. It could simply be that the standard is set extremely high for Michelin stars in the Nordics compared to many other regions.
Did you visit Tango during the Gladmat food festival this year? Please share your experience in a comment below.