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The Food Bar at Arakataka Oslo's Most Affordable Gourmet

The food bar at Arakataka is the best addition to the restaurant scene in Oslo since the opening of Pjoltergeist! This is consistently among my top recommendations to people who want dining suggestions in Oslo at the moment. At Arakataka, you have two options: Either book a table in the restaurant or drop by and hope to find a free seat in the food bar instead. The latter is my preferred choice. I even find the menu here more exciting than the restaurant one most of the time. Maybe because it tempts with exclusive, gourmet ingredients like truffle, langoustine, and foie gras. The incredible thing is that it costs next to nothing as well! The dishes on the menu are typically NOK 35-100. Top quality and reasonable prices? Yes, please!

The bar menu
The bar menu

There is no such thing as a free lunch. Well, Arakataka gets close, but I guess they make money on people who enjoy wine and beer. Just like bars in America did over 100 years ago to entice drinking customers, which later was the source of the famous expression. I am exaggerating a bit, of course. The portions are smaller in the food bar, but very generous at the same time. Look at the amount of duck liver we got for NOK 90, and check the size of those langoustines for NOK 100 a piece! That is top quality Norwegian lobster right there. From Wednesday to Saturday you can eat until 00.30 in the night and drink till 02.00. A perfect alternative to most of the trash food you normally have to accept at this time. Mondays and Tuesdays the bar is closed, and on Sundays, it closes at 21.00. I hope that changes soon.

Duck liver mousse on butter fried brioche with cranberry jam and cress. I could eat five of these...
Duck liver mousse on butter fried brioche with cranberry jam and cress. I could eat five of these …
Scallops and yuzu. Such a fresh, clean dish
Scallops and yuzu. Such a fresh, clean dish

I already mentioned my excitement for the food bar in my post on Arakataka back in August. At that time I didn’t know about the bar concept before we arrived, and we had already booked a regular table in the restaurant. I am sure my table companion, Linn, can confirm that I was a bit distracted by the whole idea of a food bar within a restaurant. I remember I ran back and forth and looked at the other menu. Obviously, I wanted to experience that one too! The great thing about the bar, though, is that it’s drop-in only. First come, first serve, and usually there’s a seat or two spare. Because of that, I have returned many times since then! The last time I was there I bumped into my foodie friend Lars. You can read his story (in Norwegian) on the food blog Lars Spiser.

Taco of lamb in tortillas made of turnip. A great Norwegian version of the Mexican classic, with seasonal produce from our region
Taco of lamb in tortillas made of turnip. A great Norwegian version of the Mexican classic, with seasonal produce from our region.
The bar staff
The bar staff.

The fermented celeriac bread with løyrom deserves a special mention. This dish is packed with flavor and so unique in its crispy, buttery consistency. We asked the head chef, Ronny Kolvik, about it. He told us, as I expected, that the recipe was inspired by the famous fermented potato bread at restaurant Amass. I can still remember that bread from when I had it at Amass in the summer of 2014. It was the best part of the entire meal, and I was hoping for more bread every time I finished it. Ronny’s version is possibly even better. I shall return to Amass shortly and find out.

The classic. Fermented celeriac bread with sour cream, "løyrom" and cress
The classic. Fermented celeriac bread with sour cream, “løyrom” and cress.
The bar pose
The bar pose
Trufflechips with aioli. The flavor was great, but with small chips the truffle shavings didn't stick so well
Trufflechips with aioli. The flavor was great, but with small chips the truffle shavings didn’t stick so well

I once brought a relatively drunk friend to the food bar late at night. It was past midnight and we had the option of eating a shitty kebab at Torshov or take a taxi to Arakataka. Easy choice. I’ll admit I was a bit worried if my friend would even get in, but he behaved well enough. We sat in the bar, drank water, sobered up, and placed the last order of the night. One of the dishes was langoustine. My friend was tired and didn’t speak much at this point, but when he tasted the langoustine with butter, something in his brain snapped. For a moment he woke up, and uttered: my goodness, this is so tasty!. I can still remember the rich flavor myself. We practically licked our plates clean.

A whole langoustine for 100 NOK!
A whole langoustine for 100 NOK!
After a few minutes in the Green Egg grill, the tarragon butter is applied and heated with a cooking torch
After a few minutes in the Green Egg grill, the tarragon butter is applied and heated with a cooking torch
Langoustines with tarragon butter. More of the celeriac bread on the side! My goodness, this is the best value dish in Oslo, and incredibly tasty!
Langoustines with tarragon butter. More of the celeriac bread on the side! My goodness, this is the best value dish in Oslo, and incredibly tasty!

This is chefs’ food. The food bar is about simple dishes with few ingredients. Classic elements like oysters are there, of course. Each and every one of the dishes are affordable, but never at the expense of high quality. This is comfort food. It makes you happy. I had one dish, which I, unfortunately, did not get a picture of. It was called Akkar i Asia (squid in Asia). That is hands down the best squid dish I ever ate. So much flavor, such a perfect balance of tastes and spices, and so rewarding to eat.

Dry age pork, truffle and watercress
Dry age pork, truffle and watercress
The bar decoration
The bar decoration.
Sunflower seed ice cream on Belgian waffle with crunch and caramel
Sunflower seed ice cream on Belgian waffle with crunch and caramel.

Have you not been to the food bar at Arakataka yet? Why are you still reading this? Go there now!

Lagre

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