After our fishing trip to The Gaula and two days in Trondheim, a quite lovely city with clean open wide streets and very friendly people, we travelled by train back to Oslo। As always in our limited experience of Norway the trains were clean, comfortable, punctual to the second and good value. Father got half price and by booking over the internet at least a day in advance using their minipris prices I got a similar deal. It was less than £85 for two of us to travel first class for a 5 hour plus journey. How wrong have we got it in this country? Far more relaxing than driving with spectacular views and a snooze when you feel tired and far quicker as there is a max driving speed of 56mph on most roads in Norway.
Arrived in Oslo late afternoon, the central station is a mess outside but a short walk got us to our hotel. The Comfort Hotel which is modern, very convenient and comfortable enough। Had a complimentary cup of tea and a council of war to decide where to eat. After consulting our guide book we decided on a seafood restaurant called Solsiden. It is rated as the perhaps the best of its type in Oslo and as it was our last night we were happy with the price guideline of £40 to £60. We enjoyed a gentle stroll down to the seafront past the old fortress and along the seafront and found the Solsiden restaurant perfectly situated with panoramic views over the sea, shipping and harbour. The place was packed on a Tuesday evening a good sign and we got the last table. We settled in with two small beers and took in the menu and the surroundings which were chic and modern. I particularly liked the large bar with the brigade of chefs working away behind it which gave a great atmosphere complemented by the 200 + diners, a happening place.
We both chose the same meal and had a bottle of 2006 Chablis, Vielles Vignes, Domaine George to wash it down with which for Norway was reasonably priced at £47.50. The starter of marinaded salmon and sweet roe was extremely good, though not over generous in portion size it certainly left you wanting more which is perhaps a good thing. Our main course of Turbot with potato and german mustard purè and lobster sauce was brilliant. The fish accurately cooked and sauces and flavours that perfectly complemented the fish. The potato and german mustard purè was something that I shall get my guys to try and repeat when I get home. Simply lip smacking and a contrast to the crunchy lightly cooked vegetables. The desserts were light, imaginative not too sweet and a perfect end. The service was friendly and efficient with the staff very highly trained. A nice touch which we could learn from was an explanation of each dish to the table as they put it down in a choice of languages!
Had time now to look out at the stunning views across the sea with sun starting to set on the horizon, various boats plying their trade around the harbour and to enjoy a coffee. Also to observe the restaurant in full swing. Their signitature dish was a fruits de mers served for two or more people in raised elegant bowls that dominated the tables stuffed with crabs, lobsters, oysters etc. Not cheap at £65 per person but this was not stopping at least 70 people having it! I had to succumb to a fit of professional jealousy with my mind looking at the 200 people and whirring like a calculator especially as everyone was drinking liberally even at Norway's renowned drink prices.
All good things come to an end, time to pay the bill and stroll back to the hotel on a perfect summers evening। As expected the bill was about £140 for the 2 of us however there was a sting in the tail. At the bottom of the bill was a thing called MOMS at an extra 345 krone. On asking we were told that this was the 25% tax. There was no mention of this on the menu or wine list and everyone else in Norway had as in this country included the tax in the quoted price. We did pay it, but it left a nasty taste which was a shame as the meal was truly memorable as was everything else.
Our stroll back to the hotel was enlivened by all manner of prostitutes which apparently Oslo has a reputation for. Fathers macular degeneration prevented him seeing the sites but eventually a large well endowed Romanian gypsy lady accosted him and would not take no for an answer. Father informed her that he was 75, would not be much use to her, had never resorted to her kind and was not going to start now! Sadly I think that much of this would have been lost in the translation though she did go away.
Solsiden Restaurant, Sondre Akershus Kai 34
Tel 22333630 www.solsiden.no
Nigel Milsom 23rd July 2008
Restaurants in Cumbria