Maaemo is a three Michelin starred restaurant located in Norway’s capital city, Oslo. Run by head chef and co-owner Esben Holmboe Bang, the restaurant takes its name from an old Norse word meaning ‘Mother Earth’, an indicator of its focus on highlighting the relationship between the Norway’s nature, produce and cultural history. I found that the entire experience, from the stories the wait staff told us, to the menu and the ingredients, truly live up to this.
The restaurant has just eight tables in the main dining room, so when we made a reservation and were told we would be waitlisted we were a little worried. However, they kept us informed and the moment I landed in Oslo, I received a text to say we were confirmed, at which point the excitement started to build.
On arrival at the address you are met by a rather imposing staircase. While certainly worth the climb, it’s worth noting that I later discovered there is also a lift. We were greeted by the Maitre d’ who took us to our table, which offered a view of the spiral staircase leading to the kitchen on the mezzanine above.
I found our view of the staircase added to the excitement and the experience as you could see the team walking down to present their plates. Each carries only one plate, so you can imagine if there was a table of six, then six waiters walked down in a line, it’s all part of the experience as the finishing touches of most dishes are done at your table.
The restaurant exclusively serves a tasting menu, so we decided to add the wine pairing, which was a great decision, as the wines perfectly complemented each of the 16 courses. You might consider skipping a meal or two on the day you go, as you will want to arrive on a very empty stomach.
Each course a different person explained the dish, with enthusiasm and precision as to how the dish was prepared, the ingredients grown and collected and in some cases cured for many months. The explanation started your mind thinking about what you were about to taste.
Our plates included such varied dishes as chicken’s feet, quail egg in a shrimp boba broth, lamb ribs dried for one year in the arctic wilderness (perfection), langoustine smoked on a pine branch and served with a hint of the forest on dry ice (so interesting), Cloudberry sherbet (divine) and Røros butter ice cream with brown butter caramel to name just a few.
The staff were amazing and haled from different cities around the world, including Scotland, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa to name a few, which added yet another twist. The team that served us were professional and engaging and it was evident they loved what they did and were enjoying the evening as much as we were.
It was a dining experience like no other and a night I will always remember. We were even presented with a keepsake of the night, a booklet with the menu and a list of wines, very special indeed.