Review: Tango Stavanger's Next Michelin Star Candidate

Does Stavanger have another Michelin candidate restaurant? We think so! Tango is no newcomer in the Stavanger restaurant scene. In fact, it was first opened by TV chef Kjartan Skjelde in 2004, and didn’t move to its current location in Torgterrassen until 2018. Tango has always been considered one of the city’s top restaurants, but now the food is better than ever. Want to see the evolution of the restaurant over the years? Anders first visited Tango in 2015, and then checked out the new location in 2019 when he reviewed it for 360 Eat Guide. Now, with chef Jan-Erik Hauge back at the helm, Tango is on track to earn the region another Michelin star.

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TANGO

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Skagen 3, Stavanger, Norway
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Chef Jan-Erik Hauge worked at the old Tango many years ago as sous chef. Then he moved to Oslo where he opened restaurant Nemesis (in the former venue of The Tea Room), which is now the Italian restaurant Rugantino. During the pandemic, Hauge returned to Stavanger and worked at Matmagasinet, and then came back a year ago to run Tango (and Fish & Cow) as the executive chef. The level has been significantly lifted since Anders’ last visit – we were extremely impressed with our meal at Tango.

Our evening began with a glass of Champagne upon arrival. Ruinart is the Champagne of the house, and we loved the toasty notes and balanced acidity of those bubbles. The wine selection at Tango is more classical in style, but there are also some fun natural wines on the bottle list. There’s something to please everyone! Not in the mood to drink? We can also highly recommend the house-made juices. They created the juice pairing during the pandemic (when Norway banned the sale of alcohol in restaurants), and it has stayed on the menu ever since. Restaurant manager Jonathan Lundgren spearheaded the operation, using tea as a base alongside local fruit juice. Tango’s juice pairing is one of the best non-alcoholic pairings we’ve had, and you can tell that Lundgren has had a lot of fun creating juices that have similar tasting notes as the wines on his other pairing.

The classy yet cozy dining room of restaurant Tango.
Pushwagner art on the wall.

While enjoying our Champagne, we were served a couple of snacks to kick off the experience. The first was a rye sourdough cracker topped with whitefish roe, egg custard, and purple flowers. The next bite was a lobster tartelette with tarragon and tagetes. We loved both – they were such a fresh and tasty start to the meal! Next, we were served a house-made tea, made from jasmine, strawberry, raspberry, cherry, black currant, cinnamon, anise, and orange zest. This hot tea was the perfect way to warm up on a cold winter’s day, with cozy Christmas spices.

The tasting menu at Tango is 1600 NOK ($163) for eleven servings, which we think is a very good value for money. There are a few additional dishes available to add on to the meal, if you’re feeling extra hungry or indulgent. (Unlike at three Michelin-starred restaurant Per Se in New York, these supplement dishes don’t merely replace anything on the menu; they are in addition to the courses you already get.) We added a few of these supplements to share as a table, but we didn’t try all of them.

Rye sourdough cracker & whitefish roe.
Cannelloni, milk pudding, truffles, chives, and pea velouté.

The first supplement has become a bit of a signature at Tango: their caviar serving. Although caviar and waffles isn’t exactly a groundbreaking combination in the Nordic fine dining world, Tango took this pairing to the next level. The waffles are deep fried in brown butter, so they taste more like funnel cake or a doughnut than a normal waffle, and they’re served with whipped sour cream from Røros. This is, without a doubt, one of the best caviar servings we’ve ever had. (As the locals would say, “Fy faen så godt!”) This dish costs 990 NOK ($100 USD) for the tin of Rossini caviar and waffles, which we shared amongst the four of us. In our opinion, if you love caviar, this is a must-add to the meal. This dish made it onto our 25 Best Dishes of 2022. Decadent, and delicious!

Next up, the first official course on the menu: a cannelloni pasta filled with milk pudding and truffles, topped with fresh black truffles, and served with leek stems, lemon zest, mushroom, chive emulsion, and pea velouté. Chef Jan-Erik Hauge has won awards with this dish, and it’s easy to see why – this was one of the highlights of the meal. The juice pairing with this serving was a combination of jasmine and apple – fresh and floral, with a lovely acidity.

Frøya scallops, sea buckthorn kosho, chili, and apple purée.

The last supplement we added to our menu was a serving of Norwegian lobster in a Swedish saffron bisque, with grilled celeriac purée, and saffron, tarragon, butter, and chutney. This dish was 445 NOK ($45) per plate and we shared two between four people. The sauce was rich and delicious, with saffron shining as the star of the show. Or, at least, sharing the spotlight with its co-star, the lobster.

Next up was an oven-baked turbot, served with chicken jus, deep-fried chicken skin, smoked turbot skirt, parsley stems, turnip pasta, and parsley vinaigrette. (If you’ve had the Alouette chicken chawanmushi, the sauce reminded us of those deliciously barnyardy chicken flavors.) The turbot was served with a juice based on green sencha, elderflower, and lime – it tasted like a floral limeade.

The bread serving came next: pinnebrød (“stick bread”), inspired by the chef’s childhood memories making this bread over a bonfire. We’ve had pinnebrød at a few fine dining restaurants before, but the quality of the bread usually suffers as a result of the fun serving (a strip of dough wrapped around a stick). At Tango, however, this was not the case – this was the fluffiest pinnebrød we’ve had. It was exceptionally cooked, and we loved the crispy cep mushroom crocante that’s sprinkled on top. It was also fun to dip the bread into the sauce of the dish that came next: the chawanmushi. Tango’s egg custard is based on mushrooms: cep, morel, oyster, and shiitake mushrooms are served with pearls of horseradish and scallions. This dish was an umami bomb! Kaitlin is not a fan of horseradish, so that element was too strong for her, but Anders thought the pearls added a nice pop of acidity.

The main course was, in our opinion, the weakest serving of the night. There was nothing wrong with it, it just wasn’t as memorable as the other spectacular courses that came before it. Yakitori-grilled reindeer was served with juniper and rosé berries, béchamel, parsnips topped with reindeer heart and fermented egg yolk, and an oxtail sauce with red wine and spices. The meat was perfectly cooked, and the sauce was rich and hearty, with some acidity from the berries. We really enjoyed the black currant and blueberry juice that was paired with this dish; it had some juiciness and tannins that reminded us of red wine.

Our meal at Tango ended on a really strong note. The dessert centered around poached pears, served with a lemon, cinnamon, and pecan financier, topped with brown butter and milk ice cream, and a foam of apple and lemon verbena. (Yes, it was as incredible as it sounds!) We’ve honestly never loved pears so much. This dessert had the perfect balance of buttery, fresh, and floral flavors that we crave in a dessert – we wanted more! The dessert was served with a juice made from strawberry, pickled pear, and lime. We liked that the pairing was not too sweet; this juice had a lovely acidity. The evening concluded with some petit fours and coffee. The blueberry pâte de fruit was nice, but our favorite sweet bite was the canelé, served warm and gooey.

Overall, the food at Tango was amazing, but it was the service that took the evening to the next level. Restaurant manager Jonathan Lundgren is an industry legend who has worked at Tango for about a decade. The service was attentive without being overbearing, fun and engaging without being intrusive, knowledgeable without being snobby, and we felt that the servers really connected with the whole table. It was one of the best service experiences we had last year, and reminded us what hospitality is all about. We highly recommend a visit to Tango, and hope that Michelin will recognize the accomplishments of the team here in the near future.

Have you been to Tango? Let us know in a comment below.

Kaitlin Orr

Kaitlin Orr and Anders Husa 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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