People ask me from time to time: “What is the best restaurant in Oslo for good meat?” A few alternatives comes to mind, like Trancher who specialize in entrecôte excellence, or Vaaghals with their wide selection of dry aged meat. One candidate stands out, though, as a place that not only serves meat, but lives meat. St. Lars at Bislett has a meaty attitude and a big ass grill. If they had a song it would be “All about the beef.” If they got a child they would name it Chuck. If they were knighted the title would be Sir Loin. Catch my drift? Last year, we ate an excellent suckling pig at St. Lars before Christmas, but I heard rumors that head chef Daniel Lindstrøm had been working hard this year to make the perfect pig …
I don’t like rumors. I like to know shit. Thus, we brought along Hedda’s sisters and Team Rescue Juice for a meaty meal. You know what they say, it takes two to tango, three’s company and four is not enough people to share a suckling pig – bring at least six people, you fucking twig.
Let’s start with the horse tartare and a côte de bœuf
People think they need to starve themselves before a big meal, but that’s wrong. You need to eat before a big meal. The belly needs to expand. That’s why we started with a round of horse tartare and côte de bœuf. St. Lars‘ tartare is quite unique. The horse meat is packed with pickled beets and wood sorrel before it is shaped as the traditional puck. In stead of egg yolk you get quail egg yolk. As for the côte de bœuf I am almost left without words to describe how fulfilling it was to eat that juicy piece of meat. The fat melts in your mouth and the maillard crust is crunchy from the beating it gets at 900 degrees C on the coal-fired grill. The béarnaise sauce leaves you craving for more and you’ll probably end up licking every drop like Elisabeth did. The fries with garlic skins are scrumptalicious, just to throw in a new word there. How many words can you really use to describe how great something tastes? I’m starting to run out.
In search of perfected, caramelized, crispy skin
What is the ideal pig? And more importantly, how do you achieve the result? The suckling pig was already awesome last year, so it was hard to imagine how it could get any better. This year, chef Daniel explains, he placed the suckling pig in a salt brine together with brown sugar and vanilla from Madagascar. Afterwards, the piglet got a sous-vide bath for 12 hours at 67 degreees C, before it was cooked in the oven at 120 degrees C for 1 hour. In the next step the temperature was increased to 185 degrees C and the door left open to let out all the steam. Lastly, the poor pig was glazed with honey and lemon and cooked for another 35 minutes at 210 degrees C.
The result? A perfect pig. The skin is like caramel. It makes crackling sounds when you break it, just like those insane Peking ducks. I’ve never eaten pork skin as delicious as this. The sides were potatoes gratinated with parmesan, saltbaked redbeets, a broken apple sauce and a sauce on cognac, pork broth and brown butter. Holy pig!
The Story of the Rooster and the Executioner
The guys at St. Lars are not nice people. You don’t want to mess with these thugs. Don’t do stuff like stealing their stuffed rooster and put it up for display in your wine bar. Most likely, you’re gonna end up with a live rooster being slaughtered in your bar in front of shocked customers, and they’ll cut the head of the rooster with a pair of scissors, put it on a jar and make coq au vin of the rest. I am not saying that’s what St. Lars owner Andreas Viestad and his restaurant manager Niclas Wallin did, but the general manager at Territoriet wine bar did recently resign to start working in the safe zone of Maaemo. Coincidence?
Did you try the suckling pig at St. Lars and how many people did you share it with? Please let me know in a comment.