Tuesday, April 28, 2009

CLOSED JANUARY 2011: M3 Mat & Bar - decent, honest and brilliant

(Reviewed January 18th, January 23rd 2009 and April 26th) M3 Mat & Bar is absolutely one of my favourites in Oslo, and definitely the place for tourists to enjoy Scandinavian cuisine. It has one of the most dedicated staffs I know with a total focus on quality, carefully choosing their ingredients from the best retailers. This quality is reflected in the food. I have had several meals there, and I will most certainly return, so this is the first of several reviews.

Location: BBBB+

Area: M3 Mat & Bar is located on the corner of Maridalsveien and Møllerveien close to the trendy Grünerløkka area and the old wooden houses at Damstedet / Bergfjerdingen. The house has roots going back as 1669, and Christiania Brewery took over the house in 1810.

Accessability: Easily accessible by bus 34 and 54 from Oslo Central station.

Service: BBBBB

Very good service from the Swedish born proprietor, that is extremely dedicated to his restaurant. Very skilled and professional.

You have to wait medium long time for the food, but it is definitely worth it.

Atmosphere: BBBBB-

Style: M3 Mat & Bar is located in an old brewery, built in the late 19th century on foundations going back to 1669. It is a massive structure with thick walls, and a vaulted ceiling resting on large massive columns. In the middle of the room you have a large curved bar, where you may sit down on high chairs enjoying a glass of beer and meals are also served in the bar.

The room has lots of character, with dark wooden panels along the walls and chairs and tables in matching wood. There is particularly one interesting decorative element in the room, in the form of the death mask of the famous artist Edvard Munch. It may be a new restaurant, but it is located in an old buildings that has seen many years and different crafts go by.

Table: Comfortable seated around a classic dark wooden table. Windsor chairs and benches with dark leather is placed with a generous amount of space to separate them. When arriving there is a paper serving napkin with either historic recipes or even better, it tells the story of the house and the area. There are no formality by the table. No cutlery, glass or napkin - only the bare necessity. In many ways a formal table would not have felt natural here.

Food: BBBBB-

Main course - Swedish meatballs with gravy, pickled cucumber, lingonberry jam and mashed potatoes: BBBB+

Meatballs is an important Swedish signature dish. Not like the Norwegian ones, larger shaped like hamburgers, but small and neat. The proprietor buys his meat, fish and vegetables from selected firms and this is certainly reflected in the food.

Presentation: A dish with no riff-raff. For those of you looking for towers, fancy drawn lines of pesto or balsamic vinegar, M3 Mat & Bar is definitely not the place. Here you are served dishes with a traditional, unpretentious and rustic presentation, in Scandinavia this simply means, each element placed separately on plate.

Texture: Texture tells you that this is honest, decent traditional food. The meatballs, are prepared from ground beef, not under- or overcooked but perfectly prepared - chunky and very, very succulent. The huge portion of mashed potatoes is partly creamy partly chewy chunks of potatoes. It is served with lingonberries and traditionally perpared wafer thin slices of crunchy pickled cucumbers, sauce very smooth.

Balance: The whole dish has an overall good and balanced seasoning, good and rich, enough salt and with a distinct umami character. The lingonberries and the pickled cucumbers provides an interesting sweet, peppery and spicey contrast to the salt.

Ingredients good taste: The meatballs had a meat flavour of abundance, as it is made from good quality meat.

Price: NOK 127 (14 Euro)

Main course: Biff Lindstöm with fried potatoes, pickled cucumber and gravy: BBBBB-

This Swedish beef dish is thought to be named after an army officer, Henrik Lindström, that brought it from Russia to Sweden.

He was born in St. Petersburg, Russia and Swedish food lore has it that he brought the recipe to the Hotel Witt in Kalmar, Sweden, around 1862.

The original recipe contains beets and capers and this may indicate Russian origin or influence.

Presentation: Equally rustic presentation as the meatballs. A large dollop of ground meat, generous amount of fried potatoes, thinly sliced pickled cucumber and dark glistening gravy on a white plate.

Texture: The fried potatoes were a little soft, cucumbers with good crunch. The Biff was perfectly prepared - the meat were medium rare with good chunks of meat.

Balance: Salt, sweet and sour. Wonderful rich sauce with umami in abundance, and a touch of bitterness, wonderful fresh pickled cucumber as a contrast.

Taste: This is a perfect dish. Great meat flavours mixed with red beets.

Price: NOK 97 (€11), a very good meal at an unbeatable price!!

Main course: Salted sliced pork with boiled potatoes, onion gravy and green peas: BBBBB-

This is a Norwegian and Swedish dish. Salted thin slices of fat pork, served in a rich gravy. Where I come from it is served with fried onion and a white sauce. Here there is another twist, with a sweet onion gravy.

Presentation: Rustic presentation. Succulent slices of pork immersed in a thick and velvety sauce. Unpeeled boiled potatoes and green peas on side.

Texture: Perfect boiled potatoes. Salted pork could have rested on some paper towels to get rid of excess fat and to get that extra crunch. I found them too soft and greasy.

Balance: Gravy was perhaps a little too sweet, but matched the salted pork when I added a pinch of salt to it.

Taste: A great filling meal.

Price: NOK 127 (€14), a very good meal at an unbeatable price!!

Wine: Pasión Roja 2006: BBBBB-

The proprietor of M3 Mat & Bar has an excellent knowledge of wine, and did not hesitate to recommend the wine of the house to us, and it was a great choice.

Pasión Roja 2006 comes from Navarra and made from Tempranillo and Grenache grapes. It had aromas of dried fruits, spices and a hint of vanilla, and that distinct oak character.

A bargain at 298 NOK (€33).

Rating the M3 Mat & Bar experience: BBBBB- (4,69 points)

Great traditional food and wine at a restaurant with great character. Highly recommended in downtown Oslo. A must for those of you that want to enjoy traditional Scandinavian cuisine.

M3 Mat & Bar
Maridalsveien 3 - 0178 Oslo
Phone: +47 23 69 73 35
E-mail: post@m3matobar.no

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