Statholdergaarden Norway's Longest Standing Michelin Star

It was the 5th of October and my birthday. For birthdays you make a wish list and restaurant Statholdergaarden had been on mine for years already. The owner and Scandinavia’s first Bocuse d’Or winner, Bent Stiansen, has defended his one Michelin star for 18 consecutive years! However, like many things in life, you sometimes don’t prioritize the places that are in your vicinity. Also, Statholdergaarden is not a restaurant I am reminded of in social media very often. Possibly because it attracts a different clientele. Perhaps due to more traditional food. In other words: it’s less Instagrammable.

Statholdergaarden is located in Kvadraturen, next to the Mini Bottle Gallery
Statholdergaarden is located in Kvadraturen, next to the Mini Bottle Gallery

Even though it was my birthday, I decided to bring my camera and document the meal anyway. After all, I didn’t know how long it might take before I returned. However, I skipped my usual Snapchat documentation this evening. Just a small break to enjoy the day to the fullest. You can add andershusa if you want to follow my frequent live updates from restaurants (Update: I no longer use Snapchat. Follow my Instagram stories instead). This visit also marked another celebration. It concluded my visit to all current Michelin starred restaurants in Norway. Luckily, there are many good ones, without a star, yet to test.

We are about to enter one of Oslo's most long-established restaurants
We are about to enter one of Oslo’s most long-established restaurants
First snack! Raw halibut, cucumber, dill mayo and dill!
First snack! Raw halibut, cucumber, dill mayo and dill!

We recently drank some wine at our favorite wine bar in Oslo, Territoriet, when the entire team from Statholdergaarden walked in. They were celebrating their Christmas feast and had decided to start with an aperitif at the most awesome wine hangout in Oslo. Bent Stiansen walked over and yelled at me for having my feet on a stool. He was right, of course, my mother taught me better than that.

Cone with shellfish salad
Cone with shellfish salad

Afterwards Bent sat down next to us and we discussed topics like the best restaurants of Fyn in Denmark, where Bent has a house, the madness which Michelin stars can cause to chefs and the problems with new Nordic cooking. Bent has a craving for more warm dishes, because heat is a crucial element for many ingredients to add flavor and aroma. The new Nordic cooking style is so focused on delicate components, tweezers precision, and artful plating, that fewer courses are served temperate.

Tomato consommé and clipfish bolinhos
Tomato consommé and clipfish bolinhos
Hedda had never visited Statholdergaarden before either!
Hedda had never visited Statholdergaarden before either!

Bent is a wise man and with more cooking experience than most chefs in this country. His gold in 1993 started a long tradition of good results for Norway in the world’s culinary world championship. The merit lists consist of cookbooks, TV-appearances and running the highest revenue Michelin star restaurant in Norway. If Eyvind Hellstrøm is the grandfather of Norwegian chefs, then Bent Stiansen is certainly the father. It’s hard to argue with him about the flaws of new Nordic cooking, and although I am an avid supporter I do agree. It sometimes lacks both flavor and aroma.

Scallops from Hitra with a red pepper sauce, avocado cream and crispy rye bread. Very tasty and well balanced, but the presentation was not the most exciting.
Scallops from Hitra with a red pepper sauce, avocado cream and crispy rye bread. Very tasty and well balanced, but the presentation was not the most exciting.
Nigl Grüner Veltliner Piri 2012
Nigl Grüner Veltliner Piri 2012

The food genre at Statholdergaarden can best be described as a mix between Norwegian and French. Notice that I intentionally avoided the contemporary word fusion! The style is leaning more towards traditional than modern, but there has definitely been some adjustments to satisfy the preferences of a younger audience as well. Not to the extent that you would call it new Nordic, of course, but it’s not outdated. First and foremost, Statholdergaarden is about local, seasonal, high-quality ingredients. In that regard, it’s a success!

The bread serving. Brioche! Butter, olive oil & mayo to dip in!
The bread serving. Brioche! Butter, olive oil & mayo to dip in!
Finally some foam! Luckily the tasty kind, here in the form of a mussel sauce
Finally some foam! Luckily the tasty kind, here in the form of a mussel sauce
Didier Dagueneau, Buisson Renard 2014. A great, distinctive gooseberry aroma. I got this thing with labels...
Didier Dagueneau, Buisson Renard 2014. A great, distinctive gooseberry aroma. I got this thing with labels…
Salmon, mussel sauce, "løyrom" and herbs
Salmon, mussel sauce, “løyrom” and herbs

To some extent, Statholdergaarden lands in that mid-section where it’s neither about extraordinary plating or molecular gastronomy nor about super heavy, rich flavors. The flavors are balanced, the level of cooking is flawless, and the food looks decent, but I find myself missing that extra edge to the whole show. It could be a more spectacular presentation or an increased interaction between the guests and the chefs. I love when each chef comes out to present his or her dish, and maybe even prepares the final element at your table. Just like they do at Kadeau, Maaemo and even a bit at Pjoltergeist. Then again, Statholdergaarden probably serves more guests compared to the number of cooks in the kitchen. To be correct, they add a few sauces at the table, but unless my memory fails me it was the waiters’ job and it was certainly not coordinated as beautiful as Geranium does.

Pepper crab! One of the hightlights of the evening. Superb quality king crab. Carrots, boc choi and coriander.
Pepper crab! One of the hightlights of the evening. Superb quality king crab. Carrots, boc choi and coriander.
Weingut Heymann-Löwenstein, Schieferterrassen 2014. The same Riesling I had at Aymara!
Weingut Heymann-Löwenstein, Schieferterrassen 2014. The same Riesling I had at Aymara!
Langoustine from Molde, cabbage, bacon and fennel. Shellfish butter sauce. So much flavor!
Langoustine from Molde, cabbage, bacon and fennel. Shellfish butter sauce. So much flavor!
Planeta Cometa 2012. Love the name! Love the label. Love the taste! Green and yellow in color. Butter smooth like a good Chardonnay. A great pairing with the food.
Planeta Cometa 2012. Love the name! Love the label. Love the taste! Green and yellow in color. Butter smooth like a good Chardonnay. A great pairing with the food.

Staholdergaarden could do smaller adjustments, like refreshing the plates. Get Anette Krogstad or another skilled ceramist to make some hand made, uniquely designed bowls and platters. Or check out if Odd Standard can think outside the box and come up with some cool ideas. Before I suggest too many changes I have to add that we were taken exceptionally good care of this evening. The front of house service staff was more than welcoming, attentive and knowledgeable. I also enjoyed the wine pairings a lot! The wine list is maybe more up to date than anything else at Statholdergaarden. Besides, there’s something rather unique about dining in a building from 1640 which is still decorated with many original items.

Chandeliers and a beautiful stucco ceiling. The stucco is from the 1700s and considered one of Norway's finest
Chandeliers and a beautiful stucco ceiling. The stucco is from the 1700s and considered one of Norway’s finest
Rolet Côtes du Jura Savagnin 2009. You can tell the food will change character a bit, when a Jura hits the table. That oxidized flavor, almost like a calvados, is best with a dish that matces.
Rolet Côtes du Jura Savagnin 2009. You can tell the food will change character a bit, when a Jura hits the table. That oxidized flavor, almost like a calvados, is best with a dish that matces.
Duck hearts, apple, consommé and celery. A strange dish and among our least favorites
Duck hearts, apple, consommé and celery. A strange dish and among our least favorites

Even though the venue is old, Statholdergaarden is a place for renewal. In these premises a new generation of chefs are being trained to master the culinary skills. When I visited Geranium recently, there was at least four Norwegians working there and I believe two of them was schooled by Bent Stiansen & Co. These guys are certainly not fooling around, and you can’t help but to be impressed by an institution like this. Thus, if you have a special occasion to celebrate, and your wallet can afford to get rid of 3000 NOK per person, Statholdergaarden is a safe bet! If your pocketbook is slightly slimmer, or on a monetary diet, I can recommend the more casual joint in the basement: Statholderens Mat & Vinkjeller.

Monkfish, broccoli, red oinion, celery and a shallot/lentil sauce
Monkfish, broccoli, red oinion, celery and a shallot/lentil sauce
Ojai Bien Nacido, Chardonnay 2013
Ojai Bien Nacido, Chardonnay 2013
"And then we rest.."
“And then we rest..”
Black currants granita and a "nyr" fresh cheese sorbet
Black currants granita and a “nyr” fresh cheese sorbet
A great selection of wonderful decanters and Georg Jensen water jugs
A great selection of wonderful decanters and Georg Jensen water jugs
Decanters & Zalto wine glasses!
Decanters & Zalto wine glasses!
Reindeer & lingon berries, chanterelles and cep
Reindeer & lingon berries, chanterelles and cep
Tardieu Laurent, Saint Joseph, Les Roches Vieilles Vignes 2008
Tardieu Laurent, Saint Joseph, Les Roches Vieilles Vignes 2008
Lamb from Hallingskarvet, quinoa, spinach, Jerusalem artichoke, peas and a rosemary sauce
Lamb from Hallingskarvet, quinoa, spinach, Jerusalem artichoke, peas and a rosemary sauce
Paolo Scavino, Barolo 2007
Paolo Scavino, Barolo 2007
So tender you wanna cry...
So tender you wanna cry…
Pereira d'Oliveiras, Malvazia 1989. Time for cheese...
Pereira d’Oliveiras, Malvazia 1989. Time for cheese…
Rosalita and blue Hitra cheese. Flatbread, red beets and nuts.
Rosalita and blue Hitra cheese. Flatbread, red beets and nuts.
Plum in variation. Pickled and soup. Tasty, but not very spectacular for a dessert
Plum in variation. Pickled and soup. Tasty, but not very spectacular for a dessert
V60 brewing coffee. The Kapsokisio from Tim Wendelboe
V60 brewing coffee. The Kapsokisio from Tim Wendelboe
Pear sorbet, bits of pear, yogurt sorbet, meringue, almond and financier
Pear sorbet, bits of pear, yogurt sorbet, meringue, almond and financier
Petits fours and happy birthday wishes!
Petits fours and happy birthday wishes!

What’s your next excuse for visiting Statholdergaarden? Please leave a comment below.

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