On of the new trends we see in Oslo is that the big malls are refurbishing and opening food courts in their lower floors. Paleet in Karl Johan did so earlier this autumn, as parts of modernizing their mall. Now Steen & Strøm in Nedre Slottsgate has done the same. While Paleet's attempt turned out to be more of a gathering of restaurants in one floor, Steen & Strøm has actually made a food court where you can shop around and grab a table where you feel like it.
They have a total of twelve restaurants, food vendors and specialty stores at the moment, as well as a super market. Newspapers are already calling it Oslo's third food hall, following Mathallen at Vulkan and Maschmann's Matmarked at Skøyen. We went to test all of the places, to see if they could live up to the expectations.
Hello Good Pie
Hello Good Pie has offered their delicious sweet and savory pies at Mathallen for two years already. At Steen & Strøm they have made a beautiful new restaurant, that looks even prettier than the original. The huge glass menu on the wall with gold leaf writing is almost as inviting as the pies. Through the windows on the counter you can see the tempting pies at one end, and follow the baking process at the other end.
Pork, beef and ratatouille are offered at 89/95 NOK if you just need a snack, and in a bigger size with condiments for 149 NOK to enjoy as dinner. Dessert pies with lemon meringue, chocolate and peanuts, apple crumble and pumpkin and caramel are 64/70 NOK. All in all we find this a good value for money place, especially considering the quality of the ingredients and the love that goes into making each and every one of them.
Burrito Project immediately caught our attention on our first visit to the food court last week - before everything was opened as scheduled. They offered some samples of their slow cooked Josper grilled meat and it tasted really good. The concept reminds us of the high quality fast food chain Chipotle, which is found everywhere in North-America and has reached some major cities of Europe as well. Turns out this place is run by Oslo-based New Yorkers, so maybe that is where they got their inspiration.
Burritos are filled with either rice or beans and then a choice of Josper grilled vegetables (NOK 83), chicken (NOK 95), pulled pork (NOK 118) or entrecôte (NOK 145). The remaining condiments are all included, except for guacamole which costs and additional NOK 23. Condiments include salad, pickled red onions, corn, cheese, different salsas and fresh coriander. You decide what to put on.
The meat still tasted good, but not as good as the samples we got the other day. Could it be because they store the meat in open air and it had gone cold? The salsas were a little runny, and the girl serving us was rather cheap on the guacamole we paid NOK 23 extra for. We got maybe a tablespoon or so per burrito, and thus the flavor disappeared almost entirely. Overall it tasted quite good, though, and we will return to to test some more later.
This place, run by Italians, is the second location to open after getting a decent reputation at their main store in Dronningens gate just a few blocks east of Steen & Strøm. They offer pizza by the slice "Rome style" as well as traditional round pies with thin crust. We tested the oxtail ragu and tuna by the slice. The oxtail ragu was really good, just look how tempting it looks on the picture below. The tuna was not so good, but that was probably due to our preferences or being overshadowed by the much tastier ragu.
Summerbird has had countless of pop-ups at Steen & Strøm recently. As such it was no surprise to see that they now opened their own store here. Gutta på Haugen has always been our go-to-place to get our Danish delights, but it is welcoming that Summerbird now have their own shop as well. Here you get amazing "flødeboller" with marzipan bottoms - we especially recommend the Christmas edition! Their chocolate coated almonds rolled in different flavors like lemon and chamomile or raspberry are highly addictive! Not to mention truffles filled with passion fruit caramel. Don't believe us? They are always generous on store samples, so go have a taste. If you want the Danish Christmas spirit to last all of December you should get their Advent Calendar just like we have.
Everything is organic! All ingredients are of the highest quality. We have heard rumors that these crazy Danes went hunting for organic oranges in Italy. They found their perfect tasting orange, but the farm was not run organic. The farmer refused to facilitate for organic operation. Summerbird called him every Thursday for two years, and even went to visit him again several times. Until he gave up! Today he delivers the perfect oranges as they wished for, and he thanks them for convincing him to do it organic.
Lakrids by Johan Bülow
Johan Bülow is "Lakridskongen". The young Danish entrepreneur that started to make liquorice in his home kitchen just a few years back, and now runs a highly successful company of more than 100 employees in over 20 countries. Just like Summerbird, this place is generous on samples, and they will gladly help you to discover your favorite. We don't really like liquorice as much, neither of us, but we have to admit - this is something else! Who knows, maybe next year we will have the Advent Calendar from Lakrids?
We already know Sebastien Bruno from their flagship store in Frognerveien and the temptations that meets you as soon as you enter Mathallen at Vulkan. This is truly one of the best macaroon makers in town! Try the olive oil and basil flavored macaroon, or if you want something seasonal how about rhubarb with cinnamon or milk chocolate and mandarin? Do not miss the roasted and caramelized pistachios coated in chocolate either!
A.C. Perch's Thehandel
Yet another Danish store! We know this as our favorite Copenhagen tea store, and now we are lucky to have one in Oslo too. They offer teas in every imaginable flavor and combination, and just look at how charming and welcoming the store is to visit.
Olive Tree has a vast variety of olive oils offered in lovely, hand crafted and painted bottles. However, when it comes to olive oil the flavor is definitely more important than the design. Is this as good as the olive oils we usually get from Gutta på Haugen or Oliviers & Co? The samples we tasted did not convince us, but we will have to try more varieties another time.
Apparently inspired by the Soup Nazi from the classic Seinfeld episode, What's Soup serves a selection of different soups and stews. On the menu at the moment is Dal - Indian lentil soup (NOK 89), cauliflower soup (NOK 89), chili con carne (NOK 109) and "pinnekjøtt"soup (NOK 109).
We took no chances and followed the correct procedures: "As you walk in the place move immediately to your right, keep the line moving, hold out your money, speak your soup in a loud, clear voice, step to the left and receive. Do not to embellish on your order. No extraneous comments. No questions. No compliments."
The soups were ok, especially the Dal tasted quite good. The "Pinnekjøtt"soup is a little boring. If you add that it is priced at NOK 109 and leaves you less than full even for lunch - it doesn't really work so well. Nothing here that screams of legend status as far as flavors are concerned. I guess we'll come back - one year.
Jonathan did not offer any samples or ways to test their menu without buying a full meal. As this was our last stop of the tour, we did not buy the sushi this day. Sorry Jonathan, no preview - no review.
Here you can find all the restaurants I visit and frequent. From Berlin to Helsinki and from Oslo to Lima.