Thursday, 27 January 2011

Who's going to Dinner?

Oooooh, look - ANOTHER shiny new restaurant in London Town. Welcome, Heston B. Join the thrusting throng.

Is it me, or does a new eating place open there every day at the moment? It seems as though the world's chefs, their wives, and their dogs are all clamouring for space in the capital. Which, y'know, is all very nice an' all, but why did they have to leave it until I was moving out of town? Hmmm? Well, Heston?

Anyway, moving on...

In this particular instance it gives me particular smug satisfaction to say that I've been to Dinner already. Lookee here - pictorial proof:

Dinner, Oslo

And very good it was, too. If Chinese/Szechuan cooking is your kind of thing, then I suggest you hop over to the loveliness of Oslo and get yourself some decent nosh.

I had the pleasure when I was there last summer. It's right slap-bang in the middle of Oslo, just a 2-minute short stroll from the harbour. No, it wasn't my first choice of places to go, but since the much-recommended Theatercaféen was closed for a refurb (how dare they?), we had to go off-piste.

You might think that a posh Chinese place in central Oslo might not be the most popular place to eat at. Think again. We could only get a table for 6.30, and even by then, it was packed - and I'd guess it had about a hundred covers. No mean feat, especially when you bear in mind that the residents of Oslo (we seemed to be the only tourists) are pretty choosy about their food.

And, because I didn't take notes, I can't remember what the hell we ate. Yes, as a food blogger, I am a useless waste of space. I am a disgrace to my peers. I shall press on regardless.

But, BUT - I DID take photos. In a very dark room, with no natural light. Does that help? I'm guessing probably not, but here goes anyway.

Starter: erm, dumplingy things, probably Dai Chi Kau. Some Char siu so. Ubiquitous crispy spring rolls. And a couple of other dim-summy yummy bits and pieces. I'm no expert on Chinese food, but these all seemed very well done. Punchy. Not greasy, soggy, or anything else inappropriate. The seafood and fish stuff was as fresh as anything, of course - this being Norway. Very tasty.

Dinner, Oslo 2

To follow: yikes. I think this was braised duck breast with lychees, amongst other things...

Dinner, Oslo 3

... and this was definitely beef - grilled tenderloin with a mouth-zapping pepper sauce, and Gai Lan..

Dinner, Oslo 4

And, woah, I do remember that it was, er, a tad on the hot side. Still, since it was
all washed down with a zingy little medium-dry Riesling (well chosen, Mister Sommelier), we weren't complaining. Just a bit sweaty around the forehead and jowls.

I wouldn't normally 'do' dessert after a meal like this, but it being my holiday... well, a waistline deserves to be pampered, doesn't it?

Bring on the not-very-temptingly named 'mango pudding with sabayonne sauce, mango and pitahaya':

Dinner, Oslo 5

With the texture and appearance akin to a 1970s crème caramel (complete with accompanying psychedelic fruits), this little retro pud had all the marks of 'bleurrgh' written across it. Instead, it was actually bloody good. Beautifully soft, possibly even a shade too much so (useful to remember if you ever take elderlies with you), and intensely mangoey. 'Twas a welcome cooler after the assault by chilli, and really rather lovely. A lip smacker, no less.

All in all, then, a damn fine meal. Yes, it was kinda Westernised and sanitised, but the food was still notably good. It WAS spenny, but then everywhere in Norway is, and it was no more or less pricey than pretty much every other place we ate at.

I suppose the real test is whether I'd go back. And the answer is 'yes'. Yes, I would. And given what I'm sure will be an inevitable 12-month waiting list to get into Heston's new gaff (yawn), I think I'd rather have Dinner back in Oslo.