Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Comfort food at Dovrehallen




















My mother died in 2000 at the age of 79. She cooked according to traditions from her generation, good, honest early to mid 20th century comfort food. Sadly this style of cooking is disappearing rapidly and when you look at a menu in an Oslo restaurant you see food that you can order in Sydney, London or Johannesburg. This is certainly not the case at Dovrehallen, one of the few places left in Oslo where you still may enjoy traditional food at an affordable price.

Dovrehallen has been around for over 100 years. This old tavern is a time capsule, with its old, and worn down brown furniture, old movie posters on pale blue walls, and sparkling chandeliers. Dovrehallen is a place with traditions in any sense of the word.

They have a daily special - highly recommended for lovers of traditional cuisine.

Mondays they serve Meatballs with stewed cabbage, the signature dish of many Norwegian mothers. Tuesdays Eisbein with mashed swede, smoked and salted pigs knuckle with the sweet mash often served to many salt meats in Norway. Thursdays they serve another delicacy - fårikål a mutton and cabbage stew, Norwegian style - a must for the culinary tourist. Saturdays special, flesk med duppe is a dish that I remember with much joy. Salted pork belly with a creamed onion sauce and potatoes.

The daily specials cost from NOK 85-115 (€10 - €14).

They have a summer menu with cold specials. From their main menu I recommend traditional diners to order salted beef and pork with mashed swede. Be aware that this was a dish from long gone times of hard labour. The meat is very fat, so be warned - but this is traditional at its best.

Last Sunday I ordered from the fish menu, fried trout with sour cream sauce and cucumber salad. It is an excellent choice, both summers and winters. This is one way to serve trout where I come from. The cucumber, thinly sliced, marinated in a oil and vinegar dressing, provides a great contrast to the fish and the rich sour cream sauce.

I have never tried their pizzas, but I suspect this is not what they do best. You may, however try an open sandwich. A steak or minced steak sandwich, the latter with fried onion or fried egg, in itself a substantial meal. Another interesting sandwich, not tried is the one with cod roe and mashed peas.

And what to drink? Dovrehallen have license to sell both, beer, vine and liquor, but I recommend a traditional pilsner beer, "en halvliter" or a pint in Norwegian. Then you are in for a meal Norwegian style.

Times are changing, and I feel that these places are loosing ground to new and trendy restaurants with hip food. So do visit Dovrehallen when you are in Oslo as more and more of these culinary pearls are closing, due to corporate greed and disinterest to our old culinary traditions. If you postpone your visit, you may loose out, as the next time you come it may have closed. I do, however, hope that this traditional tavern will survive to serve coming generations.
Address:
Dovrehallen
Storgt. 22, 0184 Oslo
Phone: +47 22 17 21 01
e-mail: post@dovrehallen.no
Official website: www.dovrehallen.no

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