Review: Straa Astral's Al Fresco Sister Restaurant (Closed Permanently)

Straa is a riverside patio restaurant located in Ivan Bjørndals gate along the river Akerselva at Lilleborg in Oslo. There are not many eateries in this small neighborhood between Sagene and Bjølsen to the west and Torshov and Sandaker to the east. Kolonihagen has a bakery, which also provides Straa and the soon-to-open restaurant Astral with bread and baked goods. Currently, Straa is serving a teaser of the menu that you’ll find in the restaurant indoors. Astral opens on the 10th of August, but you already know that if you read my restaurant rumors.

Note: This restaurant has closed permanently.

The view
The view

Once Astral is open the plan is for Straa to serve simpler food prepared on a grill on the patio. It will also be a great place to enjoy a glass of wine as long as the summer season lasts. I’ve known about this restaurant opening for a while, but the details have been leaked one by one. From the location to the name and finally the concept and opening dates. If you got any tips on restaurants opening in Oslo, Copenhagen, and Stockholm, then please get in touch. All sources are anonymous.

Poached egg, fresh green peas and sugar snaps, salty bacon and butter sauce
Poached egg, fresh green peas and sugar snaps, salty bacon and butter sauce

In the kitchen, you find head chef Steffen Hansen, with experience from restaurants like Grefsenkollen and Vaaghals. His sous chef is Matthias Hauge who has previously worked at the well-known culinary hotel Scandic Nidelven in Trondheim and restaurant Lothes Mat & Vinhus in Haugesund. The two main sommeliers are Marius Hansen and Ragnhild Wright Ousland. The latter used to work at Vaaghals and has been popping up as a guest sommelier several places this year – among them, the wine bar Territoriet and restaurant Kontrast.

Sommelier Ragnhild Wright Ousland picking flowers
Sommelier Ragnhild Wright Ousland picking flowers
A teaser of a new dish. Whale tataki, tomato granita, and pickled turnips
A teaser of a new dish. Whale tataki, tomato granita, and pickled turnips

The food at Straa & Astral is definitely following the latest Nordic restaurant trends: casual and rustic presentations, mainly local and seasonal produce, lots of foraged or self-grown plants, herbs and flowers, cooking techniques from different corners of the world and no clear concept. Except, that is the concept. It’s like Vaaghals meets Pjoltergeist, or a sort of Bass Oslo with bigger portions.

Brioche, raspberries, bergamot cream, pineappleweed, and wood sorrel
Brioche, raspberries, bergamot cream, pineappleweed, and wood sorrel

We had some great dishes and some that still need work. The kitchen is clearly testing stuff for the final menu of Astral. If you go there now I would highly recommend the klippfisk and poached egg. Tasty and fresh with a good balance of textures and flavors. The veal sweetbreads had too many soft, mushy, and fatty ingredients combined and need adjustments, I think. My favorite dessert was the raspberry and brioche. Rhubarb and red beets is an interesting and fun combination, but wasn’t that pleasurable in my opinion. I’m excited to revisit once Astral opens, and in the meanwhile, I’ve added Straa to my recommendations for restaurants in Oslo that are open all summer.

Sommelier Ragnhild Wright Ousland
Sommelier Ragnhild Wright Ousland

Will you be checking out Straa before restaurant Astral opens, or would you rather wait till the menu is all set? Please leave a comment below if you end up going there and what you think.

Anders Husa

Anders Husa and Kaitlin Orr 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.

4 comments

  • The location is outstanding – Williamsburg meets Amsterdam. Looking forward to coming back for that alone. Food was very good overall – egg, klippfisk, kantareller – and the mackerel (my friend had this – claimed it was the best thing on the menu). Tried the brioche for dessert – raspberries and bergamot cream were lovely, but the brioche tasted like butter and didn’t add much to the dish (except calories). Our waiter was very friendly and knowledgeable (as was the sommelier) – another person on the floor would have helped though. All in all a very positive experience and a great find!

    • I agree, the location is amazing. They didn’t have the mackerel on the menu when I was there, unfortunately. The raspberry dessert was my favorite, especially on my latest visit. The brioche was more crispy then. Buttery, yes, but I loved that. Added salt to the dish, which I thought worked well with the sweetness of the cream and the sourness of the raspberries.

  • Testet ut Straa for et par uker siden, og ble veldig skuffet over maten. Menyen så i utgangspunktet spennende ut og porsjonene var relativt rause, men etter min mening satt ikke smakene i noen av rettene vi smakte (6-7 stk – dog verken klippfisken eller posjert egg som du nevner). Tror flere av rettene kunne vært markant bedre om salt/pepper/syre-balansen hadde vært bedre smakt til. Dessertene fremsto som de “mest ferdige” etter min mening. Uansett håper jeg maten løfter seg 3-4 hakk (som er nødvendig for å rettferdiggjøre sammenlikningen med Bass og Pjoltergeist) frem mot Astral åpner, for plasseringen langs Akerselva er veldig behagelig og det er få gode matalternativer i nærmiljøet.

    • Det var synd! Jeg vil dog tippe maten har tatt seg opp allerede etter ditt besøk. Jeg var der igjen noen dager etter første besøk, og allerede da var maten bedre, synes jeg. Sammenlikningen med Bass og Pjoltergeist var for øvrig kun ment for deler av konseptet, og ikke nødvendigvis kvaliteten på mat eller stilen.

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