My 10th visit to Maaemo, the undisputed king of restaurants in Norway, was celebrated on August 1st, which happened to be the first day after a summer holiday for the staff. I ate at Maaemo five times last year, although one of those meals was the 7th-anniversary dinner with friends of Maaemo. By the looks of it, however, I won’t break that record in 2018. But one meal per year is the absolute minimum when we have such an amazing restaurant in our city! Maybe I can squeeze in two. In June, Maaemo was voted the 35th best restaurants in the world by the World’s 50 Best. That is quite an achievement for a country with only 5 million inhabitants.
Summer at Maaemo
I shared this wonderful meal together with some foodie friends that had flown in from Canada for a culinary tour of Scandinavia. On my advice, they had dined at Kontrast the night before. Early the next morning, they went to Ålesund to try out restaurant Bro by Ronny Kolvik. In fact, they were going to eat there three nights in a row! I also recommended a visit to Jacu Coffee Roastery, which is now open all days of the week (it was Fridays only when I was there last year). Following in my foodie-steps (see what I did there?), they also booked Fäviken Magasinet deep in the Swedish forests, before they ended their trip in Stockholm with some of my top restaurant recommendations.
Since this was a meal in company with new friends and first-time visitors of Maaemo, I wasn’t in a position to make a thorough dish by dish review. Which, believe it or not, takes quite a lot of effort, taking notes and being focused on the plates in front of you at all time. We enjoyed a great dinner, although not the best I’ve had a Maaemo, but at this high level you can’t raise the bar every time. Seasonality of ingredients play a big part, and I normally prefer the late autumn and winter season. Although, presentations are usually the most stunning when it’s summer at Maaemo. Colorful flowers on almost every dish, and the light from a late Scandinavian sunset that illuminates the room in a magical way.
New Dishes and Old Signatures With a Twist
My favorite bites were the brioche with lamb fat and bone marrow, the summer peas in fermented asparagus sauce, the king crab with nasturtium, and the new potatoes. In addition to an altered version of the signature oyster and mussel dish – now with caviar! Not to forget, my all-time Maaemo favorite, which never disappoints, namely the browned butter ice cream. Sweet dreams are made of that. On the weaker side, I found that the Mahogany clams disappeared amongst other flavors in the tartelette, the raw scallops were paired with too many bitter flavors, and the first king crab serving just didn’t blow me away.
Erlend Lehland, whom I know from his time at Territoriet wine bar, seemed to be busy with the chef’s table upstairs this evening, but welcomed us when we arrived and, later on, served a plate or two. We were mostly in the good hands of Maaemo’s new head of wine (since last year), Jefferson Goldring, who is a great host that takes his time to explain each dish and wine with just the right amount of details. Besides them, I think almost every chef and waiter at work this day was by our table at least once during the course of the five hours the meal lasted. Quite a few new faces for me, but then it was almost a year since my last visit, so not a big surprise. It’s fun to see that Maaemo attracts chefs and waiters from all over the world. I just wish more of them decided to stay in Oslo when their time finished at Maaemo. We need more dedicated people to contribute and help build and shape our evermore-exciting food scene.
What’s your favorite season at Maaemo? Please share yout thoughts in a comment below.