November 17, 2008


I’m getting closer and closer to the inner sanctum of the Opera House in Oslo. After numerous rooftop walks, one Sunday night several weeks ago I ate dinner at the Opera’s foyer brasserie, Sanguine. Visually the place is a feast for the eye. High ceilings, angled beams, full glass windows, (almost) white marble flooring and pristine white tablecloths accented by red flowers, candle holders and waiters’ shirts.

Unfortunately the panoramic view of the Oslo fjord and its islands was shrouded in the inky night, so one tip would be to visit in daylight if you can. The restaurant’s location towards the back of the foyer is a little disconcerting, as there’s no real physical demarcation of the two. So although I know that’s the main point of an Opera house, concert-goers stream past and sometimes even brush against the outer tables when entering and leaving the auditorium. That, and the end-of interval music clangs quite loudly!

But what of the food? To use a musical analogy, the main we all chose – of moose and root vegetable puree with bacon bits and a seriously savoury oil-based sauce – was more Brit pop then Bach. Specifically, unashamedly tasty, yet with brash, loud flavours all competing for attention on the same plate. Some saving grace was served with dessert, cloudberry tart with goat’s cheese sorbet. More subtle than our main but still would not suffer from a handful less ingredients in the mix.

Finally, a series of Norwegian-designed cutlery and ceramics seems to have been especially designed for the Opera House’s eating and drinking outlets. I liked both the look and the utility of the former but the latter fell foul of the first rule of design, prioritizing form over funtion. Swooping plate edges is one thing, but miniscule (unsuable) handles on the coffee cups quite another. The cost of promoting local industry?


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