falcon crest

April 6, 2008

This post was my first ever when toying with the idea of blogging. I wanted to see how it all worked, and if it would be something I would enjoy. To tidy up, I’m moving this post here and closing my ‘test’ blog. The story is a little old, but still valid. It’s a long one, beware!

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I have been toying with the idea of building myself a home on the net since moving to Oslo but just never seemed to have anything fascinating or earth-shattering enough to share with you all. The photos in a couple of web albums did a much better job of describing my new stomping ground than I felt I could with words. That is, until a remarkable dining experience last week at Falcon Crest (no giggling in the back there)… more on which in a bit.

As an aside, Mr. Snow informed me yesterday that the ‘real’ Falcon Crest was NRK’s soap of choice in the 80’s, as they could not afford Dallas. Thank goodness all those oil dollars have come flooding in since! Lorenzo Lamas was certainly in the background while I was growing up a hemisphere away, but somehow the desperately tragic Hong Kong soaps (invariably involving orphaned children and evil stepmothers, and a sprinkling of triad heavies) were always top viewing in our household.

Coming back to the point, the Oslo restaurant scene just never seemed as tempting as while Oslo Foodie was writing her mouth watering posts, now sadly disappeared from the net. (The fact that we share a love of a certain cuisine is purely coincidental, although the words fried sotong, roti canai and mamak make my heart sing!) And surely the best part about moving to a new city is having a whole city full of restaurants to discover!

These two events combined finally induced me to put fingertips to keyboard. I don’t know how often inspiration will strike but in the meantime, hello world and happy eating!

So, down to business. Our Thursday evening meal started out very promisingly, considering there would be more than 20 of us dining together at Falcon Crest as part of a work day out. I had joined the group a month and a half ago and looked forward to spending time with new colleagues out of our normal work setting. I had volunteered to co-ordinate the meal part of the day, and all my phone interactions with the restaurant prior to our visit indicated friendly, courteous and prefessional service, and we agreed on a set menu for the evening.

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We were also greeted warmly upon our arrival that drizzly evening (after a rather comic turn involving 5 cars and the oddest blind-ended parking garage I have ever seen). The restaurant is located on the ground floor of some terraced apartment buildings – again, slightly odd, but once inside the atmosphere was relaxed and chic.

Our waiter for the evening seemed at first to be easy going and prepared for our group, getting us our drinks smoothly. The first hitch arose when we were served our mains, when the number of fish and meat diners did not match the number we had previously informed the kitchen of. Quite suddenly, a rather disapproving air descended on our waiter as he waited for the offending person to confess to their mistake. Luckily, one of our party meekly agreed to lamb instead of the halibut, thus averting the first potential crisis…

Sadly, the next challenge – providing all 20 of us with enough potatoes to go with our mains – proved to be too much for the kitchen. We were given two small saucepans of the daintiest little potatoes I have ever seen and instructed to ask for more should we want it. We did want and ask for more, at which point a third saucepan of D.L. potatoes was produced. Admittedly we might not be the daintiest little eaters around, however when it came to sharing out 7 tiny potatoes between three of us just at one end of the table we had to admit defeat and again asked for more. Unfortunately for us, that was simply asking too much – the kitchen had run out of potatoes, dainty or otherwise.

The final straw came when one of our number objected to the bacon on her fish dish, having also previously requested no meat in her dish at all. The offending dish was removed – but produced again in several minutes, with the bacon bits scraped off! Confronting our waiter with this fact resulted in the excuse, “But it will take ten minutes to make you a fresh dish…”

These were all sorry events marring what was in fact very good food. Both the lamb (perfectly and prettily pink) and the halibut (bacon bits notwithstanding) were cooked to perfection. The other accompaniments – root vegetable puree with mini carrots, and the dessert, parfait on a crispy biscuit base with nuts, were all well balanced and tasty. What a pity that an establishment of this standard – rated 23/30 by Dagens Næringsliv and 8/10 by Spisekartet – could not fulfill expectations of service, and arguably in the Case of the Scraped-off Bacon, literally taking the customer for a fool. We expressed our disappointment to the waiter upon leaving, and got no more than a desultory “Yes… we had more guests than usual this evening”.

For the same amount, much better to spend an evening at Balthazar‘s Enoteca, tucked away in the lovely but slightly down-at-heel Kirkeristen, behind the Domkirken in downtown Oslo. (Actually, I’m not sure there really is a cathedral in there, it’s been shrouded by the world’s largest piece of white plastic ever since we moved to Oslo.) I took Mr. Snow out for a meal to celebrate my victory over the administrative bureaucrats who had been holding my first Norwegian salary ransom (hurrah!). The evening was perfect from start to finish. Although we arrived a little early, we were settled quickly comfortably at the bar by the wait staff who chatted easily and knowledgably about their selection of wines and beers.

As soon as it was ready, we were moved smoothly to our table – to my mind, the best in the room! It was in a corner at the end of the bar, with leather sofas and armchairs for easy lounging. The food – halibut and a game bird (I forget which one, pheasant perhaps, or grouse?) was excellent, with delicately balanced flavours and interesting, almost challenging accompaniments (celeriac puree, truffle oil flavoured potato puree – those food processors are certainly working overtime here in Oslo!).

All in all, the warm atmosphere, very reminiscent of the enotecas in Rome, and the high quality of the food and service made for a great night out. I didn’t go to look at the restaurant part of the establishment, but look very much forward to trying that one (special) day if our wine bar experience was anything to go by. Baltazar appears to be long and well-established in the city, our evening there showed it is a reputation well deserved.

Wow, such a long first post! Is anyone still reading? Drop me a line if so. I would love to hear about your favourite Oslo feeding spots and watering holes!

Falcon Crest
Ullern Allé 41, 0381 Oslo
Tel: 24 12 93 00

Baltazar
Dronningens gate 27, 0154 Oslo
Tel: 23 35 70 60

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