Thursday, March 05, 2009

Christmas grub at Holbergstuen

(Reviewed November 23rd 2009) Holbergstuen and Wesselstuen are restaurants named after two famous Norwegian literates. Baron Ludvig Holberg (1684-1754) was born in Bergen, whereas Johan Herman Wessel (1742-1985) was born in the Eastern part of Norway. These two were closely connected to Denmark as well, as Norway and Denmark in their time were in a political union. This connection to two cultures are reflected in the interior of both restaurants. They have a distinct Danish atmosphere, and these two restaurants are one of very few places where you get decent Danish open sandwiches.

Location: BBBB+

Holbergstuen is located at Torgallmenningen, Bergens main square, a large beautiful open space marking the centre of Bergen.

Here there are no needs for buses or any other public transportation. A perfect place for those depending on their legs to get to and from the restaurant.

Service: BB

We arrived as the restaurant opened. We discovered that they were under staffed as several had declared ill. This did affect the service seriously. The waiter was nice, but that did not help much. We waited for a very long time for our food to be served.

When arriving at the table, the food was terrific and normally this would mean full score. In this case I choose to uphold my low score for service, as the long waiting time is the result of staff, rather than the preparation time of the food.

Interior & atmosphere: BBBBB-

The interior reflects that this is a restaurant with a Danish character. Dark and rustic are keywords. Here you find baroque style chairs with embroidered seats. Large brown beams and panels, leaded windows. You feel you are brought back to the times of the poet himself, to an old Danish tavern.

The tables have bright white table cloths - a strong contrast to the dark mysterious interior. Holbergstuen has a beautiful interior that enhance the culinary experience.


We ordered a traditional Juletallerken - a Christmas plate - pork rib with crackling, Vossakorv - sausage from Voss, potatoes, red cabbage sauerkraut, and thick brown gravy.

Beautifully presented - a stilleben of sausage on the side, a large heap of brilliantly ruby coloured cabbage with a decent piece of rib on the top, resting in a puddle of light brown gravy.

Texture was perfect. Potatoes firm, but cooked through, sauerkraut with a good crunch, deliciously tender pork rib with crispy crackling my mother would have approved of.

Good balance of tastes, sweet and sour cabbage, balanced by a well seasoned sausage and the most remarkable sauce. It had the distinct flavours of Christmas spices, you could nearly taste a piece of gingerbread. Still, it did not taste of pudding, as the spices enhanced all the other aromas.

This was the ultimate Christmas plate, and if you visit Holbergstuen in November, as we did, see if they have this dish on the menu. If so, you are recommended to try it.

Beverage: BBBBB

And what better to drink than a pint of cold local brew, the Hansa beer and one shot of akvavit. We chose a glass of Gammel Opland, one of the many delicious varieties of this spirit based on potatoes and spices. The beer was icing cold, fresh and was with the akvavit the perfect choice of the traditional Christmas dish.

Rating the Holbergstuen experience: BBBB+ (4,24 points)

A great place for a bite of traditional food in a rustic interior. in downtown Bergen. Extraordinarily delicious Christmas plate highly recommended by Enjoy Food & Travel. Sadly the rating could have been so much better, as the service was appallingly bad.



Address: Torgallmenningen 6, N-5014 Bergen
Phone: + 47 55 55 20 55
Fax: +47 55 55 20 51

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