Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Salza Steakhouse–not the most memorable meal

P1010493Salza is a steakhouse located right on the harbor of Stavanger (on the Straen side) and it has been around for quite a few years. I have tried to go there a few times but it always seems to be fully booked. But a couple of weeks back I decided to try again and I was able to book a table after we had done a city walk around Stavanger town.

P1010485The restaurant is located in an old “sjøhus” – one of the original houses around the harbor area of Stavanger (just like the houses that you find at Bryggen in Bergen). The restaurant occupies the ground floor while there is a night club upstairs and at the very top you can find a meeting room or a room for hire in connection with parties.

P1010486We came in on a cold evening and we got the menu pretty fast from our waitress. We decided to go for a starter to share as we were quite hungry and we decided to have some meat (surprise surprise) as our main meal. But you can also go for burgers, pork, lamb and they even have a fish dish on the menu. Before we got our food we got a few pieces of thinly sliced bread served with three types of dip…a tomato kinda salsa, a yellow bell pepper salsa and a red bell pepper mayonnaise – quite tasty to have three different dips.

P1010487The starter was “KFC Kristoffer’s fried chicken”…which seemed to be deep fried chicken pieces which the same red bell pepper mayonnaise. The chicken pieces were juicy, had a zing and seemed to be freshly made….excellent. I wonder if the colonel knows about the unauthorized use of the name of the dish ;-)

P1010489Nikki decided to go for the grilled rib eye (known as entrecote in Norwegian) and I went for the sirloin. Nikki ordered her steam medium rare and seemed to get it pretty right and it was served on top of a bit of vegetables. I’m all for the “avoid the gigantic portions” but I think there could have been a bit more vegetable. Nikki was pretty OK with the meat but it could have been warmer – we were a bit puzzled that the plates were not hot when the food was served.

P1010490My sirloin was served with beetroot, fried mushroom and a pepper sauce. I asked for the steak to be medium and I think it could have been grilled a bit more and I had the same issue as Nikki that the steak was not that warm and not served on a really hot plate. So I guess it is kinda sad that what I remember best from the meal is the potatoes that we got to share as they seemed to be freshly made, they were hot and were seasoned just right.

P1010491I had a glass of red wine to start with and I was pleasantly surprised that they could offer three different kinds by the glass. But when the main meal was served we were asked if we wanted to have something to drink and I said “Yes, I would like to have another glass of red wine”. I guess the waitress forgot all about me as I never did get another glass of red wine. When we walked out of the restaurant we were not totally blown away by the dining experience – the meat was decent enough and the service was good enough. But it was not a memorable meal in any way.

Read more about the restaurant and book a table on their homepage. The main meals were about 350 Norwegian kroner (about 60 USD) and my glass of red wine was about 105 Kroner (about 18 USD).

http://gardkarlsen.com – trip reports and pictures

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Chili Thursday at Thai Cuisine

IMG_4613Stavanger’s iPhone app UrbanKandi was the source of our recent dining experience - Thai Cuisine restaurant is on the corner of Kirkegaten and Øvre Holmegate. The façade is mostly glass so passersby can double back and peak in if something looks tasty on customer’s plates. We had some pre-Xmas errands to run - yes Xmas is not that far away – before we arrived approximately one hour earlier than planned. There were a few guests and table settings seemed to ready to receive a number of guests in larger groups. The owner was very welcoming and led us to our table and we had no qualms about hanging up our jackets as the restaurant was just the right temperature – not too warm and not blasting cold air con either.

IMG_4615There was a faint aroma wafting from the kitchen but not overpowering as spice laden dishes sometimes can do. The table setting was simple but met our needs. As it was the newly launched theme night “Chili Thursday”, red was the main color to be seen. Our plates were adorned with fresh small chilies – not recommended for pre-dinner snacks though. And larger chilies were strewn across the tables. There are 2 separate bathrooms – the ladies room was a welcome site. Clean, with plants and a bunch of blood red roses. There is also a convenient coat hanger – a necessity in colder climate cities.

IMG_4611We had the pleasure of meeting the chef who has varied experience and a background from the SE Asian hotel industry. The owner himself was previously an oil man. Judith was our attentive and friendly waitress. The menu included a variety of dishes to meet every palate – for those who like it hot and the not so adventurous friends that come along with them. The concept of “Chili Thursday” seems to stem from commentary from locals and visitors that have travelled to the East and enjoyed the local food served as it should be. The Norwegian cuisine generally does not include much in the way of curry / spices - certainly not chili – and thus locals are not used to truly spicy/chili based dishes. Having grown up with a Malay/Indian influence on local South African cuisine, Nikki has no problem with hot and spicy. In fact the spiciest dishes I’ve ever encountered was the aptly named Indian Fireball pizza at a local take out place in Johannesburg and then a beef in green curry dish on one of our first trips to Bangkok. In order to meet the needs of the predominantly Norwegian customers, a number of restaurants in Norway tone down the spiciness of their dishes. However, vindaloo is still “put the fire out hot” where ever you go in Stavanger.

IMG_4614As this was the first time we were going to try the Chili Thursday menu we decided on dishes that were on different levels of the hotness scale. We shared spring rolls as an appetizer; beef in ginger (medium) and Chili Tom Yam noodles (red hot) as the main dishes; and rounded off the evening with spicy coconut balls. We were thoroughly impressed with the presentation of all the dishes – a subtle touch of Thai with the styled chili and orchids. Food and plates was served warm and plates and cutlery replaced with each dish. The crockery is plain white – without the customary patterns on the edges – but letting the dishes themselves be the attraction.

IMG_4616We both enjoyed the spring rolls (fresh, firm vegetables; not too sticky/chewy rice paper wrappers; tantalizing tamarind based sauce with quite a kick). The Tom Yam noodles were not as red hot as expected. The soup itself had a sweet taste and the spiciness kicked in a bit later on - making it a multi-tiered taste experience. The stir fried beef was well rounded with a milder sauce but we did think that there could have been a bit more ginger in the dish.

IMG_4617We were pretty stuffed after the meal but the Chili Coconut balls sounded too interesting to be missed. And it was quite a combination as the chili balls were a bit on the spicy side and served on top of sweet fresh grated coconut flesh - a great combination. It is a shame that the Singha beer is 80 kroner per bottle (about 14 USD) as it is refreshing with a cold beer whilst enjoying spicy Thai food. But all in all a great meal and on next chili Thursday we’ll be sure to try out something super hot - if we can handle that ;-) The main dishes cost about 230 kroner in average (about 40 USD)

Gard & Nikki
Http://gardkarlsen.com – trip reports and pictures

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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Congratulations to Renaa Restauranten

Renaa Restauranten was just reviewed by one of the larger newspapers in Norway (VG) and they got a 6 out of 6 score. You can read the entire review in Norwegian here http://www.vg.no/vgpluss/article/15HOZZN but let me translate the conclusion.

The bill did not come as a surprise. The 8 course dinner with wine, coffee and avec cost about 2500 Kroner per person (plus tip) (440 USD). You can get a meal cheaper as the seasonal menu cost 795 kroner (+ extra for the drinks) but it will be pricy no matter what. Too expensive? Not for those who work within the oil industry. But not too expensive for the foodies either which tends to have money on a special account for experiences like this. It was not too expensive for the couple in love on the table next to us..and they also stumbled out into the night after getting their lives enriched by eating one of the best meals you can eat in Stavanger or even in Norway.
Value for money: it is expensive but it will be hard to find something that can beat this experience

So congratulations to Renaa and his team for the achievement and for bringing some attention to the Stavanger food scene. Read more about the Renaa restaurants on their homepage http://www.restaurantrenaa.no/indexStavanger.htm

http://gardkarlsen.com – trip reports and pictures