A new Pjoltergeist is back to haunt Rosteds gate 15 B in Fredensborg – the address that was once home to my all-time favorite restaurant in Oslo. It’s the same venue, with a similar concept, including a former Pjoltergeist chef in the kitchen, but there are new people behind the bar. The name of the place is Hyde. Gone is the sign on the door that said no kids, no dogs, no credit cards, no flash photography. Although some of the same rules may still apply, they do take credit cards now. Hyde’s opening hours are Wednesdays to Saturdays, and the kitchen is open from 17.00 to 22.00. Sadly, this means that, unlike Pjoltergeist, Hyde is not a place you can order late-night food past midnight. If you book a table, you automatically sign up for the five-course menu (which turned out to be seven courses including snacks), but you can also drop by the bar, or hope for an available table, in which case there is an à la carte menu with different dishes.
As before, you shouldn’t be fooled by the casual, low-key setting, or the loud music, because the level of cooking will surprise you. Matthew North, a British chef who worked at Pjoltergeist under Chef Atli Mar Yngvason, uses just a few quality ingredients for each plate and manages to create harmonic dishes packed with flavor that leave you wanting more with every bite. His style of cooking, which draws on several cuisines, involves a lot of spice, salt, fat, and umami, and strikes a good balance between vegetables, meat, and seafood. With a wine list that is not too far from the former Pjoltergeist selection, and bartender Andreas Lohne behind the bar, I think Hyde is bound to become an industry hangout and a favorite among foodies in Oslo, just like its predecessor.
To Understand Hyde, You First Have to Know Pjoltergeist
Pjoltergeist was one of those legendary restaurants, which, for five sweet years, helped define the food scene in Oslo. In 2013, Susanne Låstad and Sverre Bøyum, together with the Icelandic-born chef Atli Mar Yngvason, took over the venue Rubber Duck from Hell’s Angels. The address was Rosteds gate 15 B – on a street that otherwise is dominated by massage parlors, a sex shop, and an old pub. On Friday the 13th of September, they opened Pjoltergeist. The name was a combination of the words poltergeist (ghost) and pjolter (a simple cocktail of cheap booze and soda water), a drink that was a specialty. Soon after, rumors started to spread about a restaurant where Korean flavors and techniques went hand in hand with Icelandic ingredients and traditions. Yngvason’s background from the now-closed one-Michelin-starred restaurant Ylajali was evident in the high level of craftsmanship that came out of the tiny little kitchen. Hip hop blasted over the speakers in a cramped dining room that was a little darker, dirtier, and more dressed down than any other eatery in Oslo.
Pjoltergeist became an industry hangout. Chefs, sommeliers, foodies, and other industry professionals would frequent the place to savor Atli’s satisfying dishes and to drink all the exciting wines, mostly natural, that Sverre and Susanne collected. Life was great, but alas, all good things must come to an end. On December 22nd, 2017, with a heavy heart, I broke the news that Pjoltergeist was scheduled to close for good on June 2nd, 2018. Later on, I also announced the new venue of Atli, Katla, where he would continue his style of cooking. I love Katla for what it is, but like many others, I’ve missed the vibe of the old Pjoltergeist venue. Thus, it was exciting to be the first to reveal the opening of Hyde on my rumors page back in October. One and a half years after the closing of Pjoltergeist, we finally have access to this magical place again. It turns out that Sverre, Susanne, and Atli never gave up the lease of Rosteds gate 15 B; they are not only subletting the space to the Hyde team, they are also investing in the project of North and Lohne. For some time, Hyde will be judged with Pjoltergeist as a reference, but eventually, it will become a place of its own.
Natural Wines & Tommy’s Margarita?
Since we had booked a table at Hyde, the tasting menu was mandatory. In fact, the printed menu already lay on our table when we sat down, indicating that we were having five courses. Having reserved online, I knew it would be 700 NOK per person for the food, which isn’t cheap for the number of dishes. However, the value for money could still be good, given the right quality of ingredients and the kitchen’s ability to transform them into delectable delights. A friendly waiter took our drink order and let us know that, similar to Pjoltergeist, there are no drink pairings offered at Hyde. With lots of wines from Jura, Burgundy, and Mosel, and producers like Keller and Julian Haart, the selection should be recognizable for old-timers – perhaps because they’ve inherited parts of the Pjoltergeist wine cellar? We ordered a Pet Nat rosé, Peek A Boo, from the Australian producer Jauma. It was juicy and fresh with foamy bubbles and a tart strawberry flavor.
We were also curious about “Tommy’s margarita?“. Having received our inquiry, bartender Andreas Lohne came over to give us some background information. The drink, he explained, was invented at Tommy’s in San Francisco; it is a variation on the original margarita drink, with a substitution of agave nectar for orange liqueur. This really makes all the difference. The honey-like sweetness balances out the boozy elements of the drink, while still tasting citrusy and fresh. Let’s just say our initial order of one drink each had tripled by the end of the night.
Of course, the room has been altered a bit since the Pjoltergeist era. The wine fridges are now behind the bar, the ceiling has been stripped down, and the lighting is different (albeit still pretty crappy for photos). Hardcore hip hop has been replaced by slightly more mainstream rappers and rock music. Yet, I certainly felt at home again. With the wines and vibe in place, all we needed was for the food to convince us that Oslo had been granted the sanctuary of Rosteds gate 15 B again.
The Five-Course Tasting Menu at Hyde
The first snack and one out of two off-menu items of the night arrived in the form of a butter-basted potato cake topped with smoked eel, cherry-glaze, and chopped chives. It was warm, salty, sweet, and smoky, with tender pieces of fish contrasting nicely with the crispy potato layers. We were off to a good start, and the kitchen was only warming up!
Brown crab was the centerpiece of the next dish, the meat carefully picked from the claws and assembled in a pile in the middle of the plate, surrounded by a warming sauce of almonds, nduja fat, celeriac, and tarragon. The sweetness of crab is so easily camouflaged, especially by spicy elements, but this was masterfully balanced. Next, a pan-fried flatbread with grilled vegetables and tomatillo transported us to the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine for a brief moment. Although delicious, it was the least interesting plate of the night, but it was quickly forgotten since my favorite dish on the menu followed.
Turbot, the king of fish, was cooked on the bone and glazed with dry-aged beef fat. This standout dish came with a side of cauliflower and caramelized onions, as well as a curry beurre blanc. We used our forks to lift the succulent meat off the bone, but we might as well have lifted the bones and let the meat slide right off – that’s how perfectly cooked it was. The quality of the fish and the perfection in cooking was nothing short of what I experienced at Elkano – the palace of turbot in Getaria, Spain. We sucked every single one of the razor-sharp toothpick bones dry of meat, our fingers left sticky from the gelatinous tendons and fat (both edible, by the way). We slurped it all down with a bite of the roasted cauliflower and a generous dab of the mouthwatering curry-butter sauce. The flavor of the ox fat lurked in the background of every bite, adding a pleasant smokiness and more umami flavor. This is shortlisted for my best dishes of 2019.
A New Pjoltergeist is Back to Haunt Rosteds Gate
Another delicious off-menu snack, deep-fried frog legs with confit garlic mayo, transitioned us towards the main course. Dare I say it tasted like chicken, but softer? We ended our savory servings with a slow-cooked ox tongue that was as tender in the middle as it was crispy around the edges. This mouthful of a dish came with a velvety smooth potato purée, rich in butter, parsley chimichurri, and horseradish. The freshness of the herbs balanced the otherwise rich and filling dish. Pjoltergeist used to serve ten courses – Hyde has shaved that down to seven, but dishes like this send you home feeling more than satisfied.
Desserts were always simple during Atli’s reign, and by the looks of it, one could presume that Matthew has kept with the same style. However, the techniques required to craft a creamy tart, and balance unusual flavor combinations like chocolate, coriander, yuzu, and ginger, are more advanced than they appear. This dessert was heaven for any chocolate lover out there!
Another round of Tommy’s margaritas ended a great night that brought back memories of the ghost of Pjoltergeist past.
How do you rank Hyde against Pjoltergeist? Feel free to leave a comment below.
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Anders Husa & Kaitlin Orr