Røst Teaterbistro is located, as the name suggests, in Trøndelag Teater. Despite having heard only good stuff about the place in advance, I’ll admit my expectations weren’t sky-high. How good can a theater café really be? I thought. Damn good, it would turn out, when the head chef is Mette Beate Evensen with her partner Martin Hovdal as sous chef. Both have a background working in high-end kitchens, like the former one-Michelin-starred restaurant Ylajali, and the well-known three-starred Maaemo in Oslo. The influence is evident. However, at Røst, the couple have made their own style of New-Nordic cuisine. Expect a lot of pickled and fermented elements, but first and foremost a well-balanced and tasty meal. As a bonus – all wines are natural! Røst Teaterbistro was my favorite restaurant when we visited Trondheim.
Enter the New Nordic Theater
We enter Røst Teaterbistro on a cold an rainy winter evening in Trondheim. The dramatic and theatrical setting leaves little doubt of what kind of building we are in. In a large room with a high ceiling, huge arched windows, red velvet couches, wood-framed mirrors, an indoor balcony dominates the back wall, and a large stage complete with a huge red velour curtain covers the far wall. A mini-theater made of porcelain is the backdrop of the sommelier’s bar counter. Then, we notice the glass jugs – everywhere. Nearly covering the walls on each side of us are jars upon jars, in varying sizes, filled with pickled, fermented, or marinated fruits and vegetables. I see plums, lemons, and pinecones. Clearly, they intend to use local ingredients and follow the seasons at Røst Teaterbistro, and they know that in the Nordics you need to preserve stuff through the winter.
Horse Tartare Wrapped in a Pancake & Nordic Ceviche
We order the full menu, 9-courses, priced at NOK 945. However, you can choose a 5- course (NOK 665) or 3-course (495) dinner as well. It all depends on how much time you have before the show (we weren’t catching one). Ida von Stoltz, the head sommelier and our host for the evening, get to pick the drinks. She fills our glasses with Belzebrut by La Sorga to start. Ah, we know this producer well! Accompanying the bubbles is a small mouthful of crispy chicken skin with half a chicken heart on top of a dash of sour cream infused with birch shoots. Salty, and umami-rich, but balanced by the smooth acidic cream. The first course, which shall turn out to be one of my top picks on the menu, is a horse tartare (from a 12-years-old dølahest – workhorse – from Røros) mixed with løyrom in a soft, slightly sweet, pancake. Smoked tarragon mayo, pickled cucumbers, horseradish, and cress decorate and adds contrast to the flavors and textures. Beautiful and delectable!
The next dish is a further step up, with an amazing ceviche of haddock, complete with a kimchi that has been fermenting since the opening of the restaurant in 2015. There’s an oyster emulsion that adds sea flavor, deep-fried crumbles of sourdough that give crunch, sea lettuce, and a sauce of fermented ramson with ramson oil. The flavors and textures all come together so well! Acidic, spicy, and fresh. Simply, a great dish that is stuck in my memory.
Say Hello to Hermann the Sourdough
– Meet Hermann! That’ what we call our sourdough bread here. He’s part of the family and needs plenty of food and love to survive. When we eat breakfast, he does too – every morning.
Hermann turns out to be a fermented potato bread that is fried in a buttery pan. Sticky, warm, and gooey! He’s served with lumpfish roe, whipped sour cream from Røros with lemon salt from confit lemons, and chives. The butter is salty, bitter, and acidic. Wow. One of the top bread servings I’ve had this year, and very original! We wash it down with pink bubbles from Loimer.
That’s when Ida brings it out. The juiciest of juices! Jumpin Juice – Half Full from Patrick Sullivan – one of our all-time favorite wines. If we weren’t already in love with this place – now we definitely are! This light, refreshing red wine pairs excellently with the next couple of dishes we’re getting. First, a linguine with pickled pumpkin, roasted pumpkin seeds, mussel butter, and shavings of white truffle. Yes, please! With this dish, Røst shows that they dare to stray away from the hardcore New Nordic style by serving a more classic pasta with truffles, yet, with a twist. Next up – variations of beets. Pickled yellow beets, butter-glazed red beets, and salt-baked polka beets are topped with blood crumbs (yes), lamb bacon (yes), and a Hollandaise infused with fenalår – salted, and dried leg of lamb from Åndal, cured for two years. Not a huge fan of this dish, but the beets save the day.
Squeezing Out All the Potential In Each Ingredient
Mette and Martin seem to love to make variations of the same vegetable. That’s well demonstrated on the plate of fried plaice. In addition to sour apples, chicken stock sauce, Avruga caviar, and pickled chanterelles, we get Jerusalem artichokes served three ways. Butter-glazed, caramelized and made into a cream, and, finally, deep-fried as crunchy chips. I love Jerusalem artichokes, and I love this dish. It shows how many different flavors and textures that are hidden in one single ingredient.
At Røst Teaterbistro, they also care about using the whole animal. Their use of a black grouse from Sona in Hegra, presented in two servings, is an exceptional showcase of just that. First, we get the braised leg from the bird with a cream of salted plums. We eat it with our hands, of course. Then, the main course of the evening arrives. Black grouse breast, with the bird’s heart on the side, and a sausage made with the remaining innards and blood. A sauce is served tableside, made by cooking a stock on the very last bird debris. Talk about dedication in squeezing out all the potential in each ingredient!
And Now … The Larch
I normally skip the cheese serving, but our smiling and attentive waiter promise that it’s a special dish worth a try. She’s right. From the 13-month-old cow cheese Høvding Sverre, they’ve made a frozen espuma. The cheese cream is decorated with thin sheets of pink red currant meringue, red currant gel, and red currant powder (another demonstration of the chef’s technical skills). More of the delicious cheese is shaved over, and the Rosé d’un Jour from Mark Angeli is a great match.
We’re moving into the final act: desserts. First, a refreshing wood sorrel sorbet that lies in a bed of the acidic fresh cheese Nýr which has been flavored with vanilla. Sprinkled over are real blueberries (it’s sad when you have to point that out) picked in Buan, and chunks of caramelized white chocolate. New Nordic heaven! I like it better than the rhubarb sorbet that concludes our evening. Not that it’s bad, with rhubarb and strawberry gel, frozen, airy goat’s milk cream, and a small donut. But the elements don’t match as well, and the other one was simply more to my liking.
When the coffee is served, along with a liqueur infused with pinecone from a larch, caramels with lingonberry powder, and grandmother’s lefse (soft, sweet Norwegian flatbreads) with buttercream – I think to myself: If Røst Teaterbistro had been located in Oslo – I would have been a regular here.