Restaurant review: Oslo, E8

Oslo

Oslo - Credit: Archant

There has understandably been a lot of buzz surrounding the launch of Norwegian inspired restaurant and live music venue Oslo.

Oslo

Oslo - Credit: Archant

With a prime position in the imposing former Victorian railway station right next to Hackney Central Overground, it was always going to grab the attention of locals and the delay in its opening due to emergency demolition work nearby only helped ramp up the anticipation.

In a few weeks it has already proved to be a popular addition to the late-night bar scene, which has seen a few cut backs of late, but you’d be mistaken if you thought this was a music venue serving a bit of bar grub on the side, as the separate restaurant here is a destination in its own right – and an exciting one.

The kitchen is headed up by Dave Ahern and his quirky concept is to serve up dishes drawing on inspiration from the venue’s East End roots, with a Nordic twist – Scandinavian techniques such as curing, smoking and pickling run throughout the menu.

Even more unusual is that the dishes are not intended to be paired with wine, but beer from three breweries – Redemption, The Five Point Brewing Company and Sambrook’s Brewery. I was sceptical at first, but the ales were light, easy to drink and definitely did showcase the kaleidoscope of flavours we experienced.


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We got to try a selection of dishes. My clear favourite was the cod with smoked eel, crushed potatoes and parsley liquor – the light, fresh and delicate flavour of the fish was complemented, but not overpowered, by the smokey flavours of the eel and the punchiness of the vinegar and white pepper in the sauce.

The Oslo burger made with a mouthwateringly juicy 42-day aged Devon longhorn patty with 12-hour braised oxtail, horseradish cheddar and smoked bone marrow mayo was delectable with the warm shot of hot oxtail on the side a bizarre but intensely flavoursome accompaniment.

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We also wolfed down dishes including the beautifully moist pan roasted and poached chicken breast, apple and horseradish cured mackerel, a hot smoked salmon salad and the highly calorific, but delicious potted mushrooms set in rich butter and served with pickled cauliflower and toast.

Perhaps the oddest plate on the menu was the salmon BLT – with the fish smoked in such a way it tastes like bacon, but retaining its soft texture. The thought of fish tasting like meat made me feel a little uneasy, but it was good.

But the adventure didn’t finish at the mains and the peanut butter cheesecake and cucumber sponge with gin and tonic icing rounded off the culinary journey.

With a menu so full of surprises, this restaurant is certainly like no other I’ve visited before – and one which plants Hackney Central firmly on the foodie map.

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