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I don't think that makes your point, though. That mixture of spirits, bitters, sugar, and water – it may contain bitters, but it's not likely to be bitter in, say, the Amor y Amargo sense. (Not that anybody goes to that place any more, with how busy it is.)

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St. Lars

In a world of seafood, a meat restaurant.

Sort of an Oslo Animal -- in attitude, anyway. The point here is that they have this special grill capable of attaining unbelievably high temperatures. On which they grill meat. (And one fish dish a night for the light-stomached.)

The attitude may be more legendary than real. According to legend, four years ago they bought all the pigs in the children's petting zoo at the Oslo Zoo, and served them for Christmas dinner. But the restaurant doesn't feel like that at all. It feels like a friendly neighborhood bar and grill, that just happens to serve superb meat and have a superior (for this kind of place) wine list.

The reason for this loss of attitude may be -- and I'm totally speculating here -- a decrease in participation by the Famous TV Chef (that still is understood to mean television rather than transvestite in this context, but we can only hope that times will change in kitchens as well as everywhere else) who is associated with this place, Andreas Viestad. As I said, that's total speculation. I can only say that this place gives off zero feel of a TV chef place, or a Famous Chef place, or a chef-driven place. But then, I guess, neither does Pork Slope.

It would be an understatement to say I loved this place. I lerved it, as Woody Allen says to Annie Hall.

We started with some oysters, its being the start of the season and all. Served with a very smoky mignonette, they were as fine as all the seafood here is. Then, a surprisingly elegant pork-and-foie terrine. Confounding expectations, this was light -- but packed with porky fatty flavor.

Then, I had some reindeer chops. While the server assured me they were wild, they still tasted mostly like beef to me. But, boy, can they cook meat here! Deep char on the outside, rare-not-raw on the inside, juices pouring out.

I was a little apprehensive about seeing my date's halibut (I'm so ashamed), but it had a pretty beautiful char itself.

If I ever have to go out to dinner with Nick Solares, I know where I'm suggesting.

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I feel like we should have a guideline against clarifying your positions in such a way as to make them more reasonable and to prevent long, pointless arguments. That pretty much runs counter to everything for which the Mouthfuls stands.


On a more serious note, how does Oslo rank in terms of value?

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On a more serious note, how does Oslo rank in terms of value?


Their currency has depreciated to the point where this is now just an expensive Northern European city -- as opposed to an unbelievably shockingly expensive one, as it was a few years ago.

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Pjoltergeist is the current Cool Kids restaurant in Oslo. It takes reservations only through text messages (and, as far as I can tell, simply disregarded the texts my bobo hotel sent them on my behalf). It stays open till 12:30 in a country where early dining is the rule. It's touted on Young People's food blogs. It's become a chefs' hangout.


The food has been described as Icelandic-French-Korean fusion. Icelandic: OK, the chef is from Iceland. French: OK, it's the mother cuisine. Korean: now where do you think THAT comes from? I frequently deride New York's reputation as a leading world food city. But I'll never deny it its place as a creator of trends.


Pjoltergeist has a menu of what you might call bar snacks, as well as a nightly tasting menu that, at around $90, is a real value in this expensive city. When you read my evaluation, you should bear in mind that I did not receive their A-game. I walked in at about 8:30 and was told to come back in about two hours, and was finally seated around 11. (It's well known that people do things on vacation that they'd never do at home.) At that point, they were no longer offering the tasting menu -- but, after consultation with the kitchen, my waiter told me the kitchen would try to throw a menu together for me. This consisted mainly of selections from the bar menu, but with a few other dishes added as well that I assume were from that night's tasting menu. I feel my evaluation is supported by the fact that all of the dishes were of roughly equivalent quality.


The feel of the place is great. It's just like somewhere in Brooklyn -- which is exactly what it sets out to be. The food, though, not so much. It all seemed greasy and indelicate to me. Now you (or they) might say, "delicate? You don't come here for fucking delicate!" But the fact of the matter is that the cooking at Chang places (let's call a spade a spade) has always been rather fine and precise. The cooking here isn't.


So this is one of the problems with Young Bloggers. You couldn't eat at Maaemo and then trumpet Pjoltergeist as one of the best places in town. But my impression is that these Young Bloggers aren't eating in Maaemo, and are just happy to have a tasting menu with culinary pretentious available to them at what, for Oslo, is a relatively popular price. They don't know enough about great food to know when they aren't having it.


As for the place's reputation as a chefs' hangout, well, that merely reinforces my opinion of chefs as a group. Certainly "bro" chefs who hang out in chefs' hangouts.

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Alex Sushi


You might have heard me mention how supremely great the seafood is in Norway. So you'd think a top-level sushi restaurant there would really be something. And, in fact, you can find people calling Alex Sushi -- Oslo's top sushi place -- the best sushi bar in the world outside Japan.


I've never been to Japan, but I found Alex Sushi disappointing.


The problem was their proclivity for gilding the lily. If seafood is as great as it is in Norway, why cover it up with sauces and flavoring agents?


The scallop sashmi was emblematic. The pieces of scallops were doused with . . . a truffle sauce? Why? Not a light subtle one, either.


Or the blow-torched lobster tail. What was that spicy cream sauce doing underneath it?


Just about the only simple, pristine dish I had was a plate of toro sashimi. Even the traditional sushi had an especially large amount of wasabi stuck in.


Just so you know, I ordered the "special" omakase. So maybe I was asking for it. Nevertheless, none of the dishes other people were getting at the bar looked notably simpler than mine. I'd recommend either ordering a la carte here -- although I have to worry that would be ruinously expensive -- or ordering their simplest menu (called, if I remember right, the "White Menu").


I had such high hopes for this place, too.

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