Maaemo means Mother Earth in Finnish. It is also the name of a relatively new restaurant in the Norwegian capital Oslo. It opened its doors back in the summer of 2010 and has never looked back. The kitchen is run by Esben Holmboe Bang, a Dane who has had experience working at Noma in Copenhagen. The FOH is run by Pontus Dahlström, a Finn and former sommelier of Oslo’s Bagatelle restaurant.
Maaemo’s “10″ course menu which includes around 15 extra dishes ! is based around local Bio-Dynamic and mostly Organic sourced ingredients which is no mean feat considering the short growing season a place like Oslo and its surrounding areas has. The restaurant itself is situated in a Z-shaped building next to the train track leading into Oslo’s main station. The decor is minimalistic, and the environment was even taken into consideration when laying the floor which is made out of plastic recycling bottles.
Out of the 25 dishes I had my favourites were: Horseradish Cream wrapped in a sheet of Red Cabbage Jelly – Oyster Emulsion with Blue Mussel gel – Sourdough Bread of Wheat served with an excellent hand-made beer from the Bøgedal microbrewery, this was my “stand out course” – poached Skrei from Lofoten with burnt Onions – Quail Egg, burnt Leek, salted Veal Tongue served with a sauce of Ramson, Leek & Bone Marrow – Reindeer with raw Jerusalem Artichoke served with Balsamic vinegar and a müesli of Walnuts & Oats also stood out, and I loved the Iced Buttermilk with herb tea and frozen Sour Cream. My least favourite dish was the Diver caught Norwegian Scallops served raw & as a mousseline with Sea Buckthorn & a Carrot vinaigrette. I don’t mind raw Scallops at all but I just felt their delicate flavour was lost to the Sea Buckthorn.
The no choice menu costs a hefty 1900 NOK – €250 – £210, but because you get “25″ courses it’s actually not bad value for an excellent eating experience, as its website states “To fully enjoy the experience, we ask that you set aside a whole evening.”
If I pass through Oslo again, I won’t hesitate to book another table – preferably in another season though to be able to try different dishes.
In March 2012 Maaemo was awarded two stars in the Michelin Guide, the first time a Nordic restaurant has been awarded two stars in its first mention in the guide. It still holds two stars. I am surprised that Maaemo is not in the fun but sometimes flawed “The Worlds 100 Best Restaurants” list. For Maaemo’s website click here. (Click on a photo to start slideshow)
PS: I must mention that earlier that day I possibly had the best Fish & Chips I ever had. In the Where Chefs Eat guide Esben Holmboe Bang recommends Fiskeriet Youngstorget. For lunch that day I had 6 Oysters & a wonderfully Battered piece of Cod. Fiskeriet Youngstorget is also a Fishmonger. For more info on Fiskeriet Youngstorget click here.