Yes, and ten times: yes! This is an experience, a real one, and I bow to Marcus Jacobsen who is the head chef up there at Thorvald Meyers gate 78 in Oslo, close to the quite dodgy city centre of the Norwegian capital. If you call yourself a foodie, well then, book a flight to Norway just to eat there: it’s worth it, it’s special, it’s good.
There’s not much choice though once you’re there. The menu consists of one single main course without alternative, you either choose a small or a large slice of a slow cooked rib-eye roast and that’s it. I can hardly imagine a riskier culinary bet than that one. I mean, yes, you can have a variety of sides – green beans & asparagus, French fries, mushrooms, potato gratin – and you can have classic salsas and sauces like a béarnaise, sort of mexican, red wine, etc., but basically you have to have red meat which is quite uncommon. But I recommend to let yourself go: it’s outstanding beef, bred on the “Western coast” of Norway as the waiter informed me (but is there an important Eastern coast in Norway, too?). Anyway: Trancher Entrecôte is great.
The piece of meat you see above made my main tonight and it was brillant, to say the least. It’s not easy to get perfect results with very-low-temperature-cooking. If your piece comes out too tender it has a tendency to be disgusting. If you cook it too long (and that’s a matter of minutes and a matter of really mastering heat in the end) it becomes dry and pretty boring. The one I had was perfect, tender yet firm enough, like a perfect handshake, and I do rank it amongst the best five meat dishes I had in my entire life (and I had many!). Texture was perfect, taste was reassuring, skills of the chef were indisputable , so I will go to bed reassured, confident and glad.
In the course of the evening shiny, happy people populated the small restaurant, it was a noisy corona in the end, enjoying the Scandinavian way of life. “Trancher Entrecôte” is not an expensive place to eat as you might imagine, prices are pretty reasonable. For a good chunk of the delicious meat you pay only 190 “Norwegen Kroner”, 24 Euros or 30 US$. The starters come at 90 Kroner (11 Euros, 14 US$) and they consist of smart variations of shrimps and mussels or scallops. I had the latter, they came cru and sprinkled with ginger, herbs, hot pepper and a smoothing mango garnish – and they were very, very good.
What else can I say? Service was excellent, and if I read the card correctly, it was Remi Lovhoiden who was my attentive waiter, taking the time to translate everything and giving useful informations about cooking styles, ingredients, circumstances. The wine list of “Trancher Entrecôte” was as unexpected as outstanding: there’s an “official” list – and a backlist, displaying not rare, but excellent bottles mainly from France and Italy, a lot of stuff that you really wouldn’t expect in Norway (I had a great red St. Joseph). So, overall, I’ve learnt my lesson: don’t judge a book, in this case: Oslo, by its cover. You can find chefs here who have won a Bocuse d’or and others who got a star in the Guide Michelin. And what I can say is that he who has food at “Trancher Entrecôte” will keep Oslo in very good memory. It’s true, they have no idea about French grammar. But they know a lot about food.
So here’s my last snapshot from Oslo, displaying DSK, as they call Dominique Strauss-Khan in France, talking to a sharp Bloomberg guy. You watch them and you think: when do these people eat, I mean: really?