Oslo’s Tjuvholmen (or ‘Thief Island’) owes its name to its seedy past. Today, the former criminal hangout has become a haven of art, fashion and gastronomy. It’s home to the Renzo Piano’s Astrup Fearnley Museum of Contemporary Art. And Right across from the museum is a Boutique hotel: The Thief. The name is a promise to “steal you away from your everyday life”. We did not stay at The Thief but we did dine at FRU K, the hotel’s high-cuisine restaurant. And steal us from the mundane life it did! How could it not, unless you happen to have an original Andy Warhol painting or a Dom Perignon edition of Jeff Koons’ Balloon Venus in your dining room. Here, art is everything. It has nothing to do with decoration. It inhabits the whole place and intensifies the gustatory experience.
FRU K takes the best of the traditional Norwegian and Scandinavian cuisine and gives it a contemporary twist. The chef Johan Laursen achieves a beautiful blend between the traditional cultural heritage and the avant-gardiste urban scene of Tjuvholmen. His idea of exquisite translates into simple and pure flavours, with “clean” sensations. Johan Laursen comes from the Michelin-starred restaurant Maaemo in Oslo. He has competed in two Olympics and two world championships with Culinary Team Gothenburg.
We were treated to the 7-course menu (approx 120EUR) and we also ordered the wine package (125EUR each). I’ll tell you what. This is food ART. It’s epic. It’s your papilles going to a party sensation. It’s memorable and therefore it’s worth it. It’s not like you dine at FRU K every night of the week. It’s a celebration. A toast to one of life’s purest and simplest pleasures.
We started with the montgomery cheddar and Norwegian salt Macaron. Homemade doughbread was brought to our table with syrup and fennel served with whipped pork fat and organic butter. The Norwegian salt was presented in a little ceramic pot made by Oslo prisoners. The Chef went to prison to give a workshop and prisoners loved it and wanted to make something for the restaurant. Seeing the chef’s tattoos, I had the silly idea that he somehow fits with my concept of UAH: Urban Alternative Hero.
Then we had a nettles emulsion with salmon caviar, turnip and quail egg. A rather mineral dish so we had the Grüner Wertlinger with it.
Johan brought us the turbot soup with crisp apple, brown butter and Jerusalem artichoke. The soup is made with the fish bones. It takes a day to make it. This dish was perfect with the Joseph Drouhin “Laforet” 2013 Chardonnay.
Along came a beautiful dry aged sirloin tartar served with berber potato, gruyère and chantarelles. The dill gel on top was astounding. We drank a Slåtteøl beer to cut the fatiness of the tartar. The beer is inspred by Belgian farm beers, cloudy and fruity.
After that, we had the Mangalitza pig in its beer vinegar, juniper berries and aspargus from Moselle. The Mangalitza pigs are odd-looking hairy pigs and these particular ones come from an organic farm 20 minutes away from Oslo. This dish was accompanied by the Effet Papillon Roussillon wine of 2013, from Syrah and granache varieties. It had notes of macerated cherries and rosemary.
Then we had the catch of the day with grilled cabbage and filled potato accompanied by an Ansgar Clusserath 2013 Riesling.
We moved on to the Kvit undredal cheese with sea buckthorn, apple bread and coriander. To me, it was a trip back to my childhood. It reminded me so much of “Martin Fierro”, the typical dessert in the Rio de la Plata made of old cheese and sweet quince paste. With this cheese, the sommelier brought us a glass of DUBL rosé: an Italian sparkling wine experimenting with the Champenoise method with Campania grapes. Delicious wine.
To finish, we indulged in a delicious dessert of Rhubarb with yogurt, liquorice and caramelised fennel. We drank a 2013 Moscato d’Asti Palás by Michele Chiarlo: elegant floral aromas and notes of peach, apricot and fresh grape juice.
The Chef was very generous going from table to table presenting the dishes and exchanging with the diners. Claire took care of us during the whole evening. The lovely Frenchie is a wine expert and together with Johan, they make quite the team.
We had an incredible evening. Unforgettable. Dining at FRU K is a Scandinavian odissey and a hedonistic trip for your senses. And while you are in the middle of this culinary journey, you keep asking yourself if you are actually in an art gallery. The answer is no. Because unlike museums, FRU K lets you eat the art.
I truly recommend that if you are in Oslo, you book a table.
KRU K – Fru Kroghs Brygge 2, 0252 Oslo – T: +47 24 00 40 40. Open from Monday to Saturday from 18:00 – 22:00.