It’s been a long time since I last wrote about one of my dining experiences and it’s not because haven’t been eating out. I have been wrestling with the question of whether or not I should be taking photos during my meals, a question I still ponder. I am look at changing my approach next year on how I share my thoughts of a meal/dining experience, but for now I will do it the good old fashioned way of story and photos.
Stavanger offers some awesome restaurants. Having lived here for 3 years now we have sampled all of them at least once, usually using birthdays and christmas as an excuse to treat ourselves to some expensive, but great dining. Norwegians tend to eat out once a month as the cost is pretty steep here, so there is an unspoken expectation that the standards of the food should be high.
This weekend we went to Hall Toll (in Stavanger) for dinner and I love Hall Toll. The food there is always spot on and I am always in awe of any chef/restaurant that can deliver different and yet amazing menu each time you go. Recently I have grown tired of the high end michelin star restaurants that do not vary their menu. It feels lazy and I feel cheated, why should we celebrate a chef that can produce the same things over and over, it feels like their passion and creativity for their craft is lacking.
However, when I go to a restaurant that’s has both variety and high quality dishes, I am won over immediately.
Hall Toll has two kitchens in one and both sides are equally great. It sounds a little absurd, but the quality is not lost on either side as they have specialist chefs on both sides. They offer classic European dishes and Asian cuisine (with an emphasis on sushi and oh boy that sushi is fresh and awesome). You can pick from their sushi menu, their a la carte menu or choose their chefs menu. You can also choose your own wine, have your server choose pair your wine with your dish or have your server pair a mix of wine and/or beer with your dish.
As Stavanger is an oil and gas town, don’t be alarmed by the number of men dining, it is a relaxed atmosphere inside and usually one of the top choices for management to dine.
This evening we opted for the chef’s menu (1000 NOK each), we were told we would be “peppered by a selection of items from both the sushi and a la carte menus” and we chose to have it paired with matching wines (750 NOK each). Although following some chat with our server he provided us with a Belgium beer on the house so we could sample the sushi selection with wine and beer. I hadn’t every thought of pairing sushi with beer, but I have to admit it worked.
One thing to note about Norwegian service is that it is on the slow side, so sit back and enjoy your evening and your company rather than clock watching. Too often I have seen those that are not used to the Norwegian pace of service getting worked up and complaining. Just enjoy. Also remember Stavanger has a long and proud history of fresh sea food, so it’s something that they pride in preparing so be prepared to eat fish.