Nordic passion and precision on a plate
Who, where, what and when? Maaemo’s 35-year-old head chef and co-owner, Esben Holmboe Bang, hails from Denmark but has made Oslo his home for the past 13 years. Since opening in 2010, Maaemo has become one of the most in-demand destination restaurants in all of Scandinavia.
Mission statement: Holmboe Bang says that his focus at Maaemo is on a complete experience that allows him to highlight “the relationship between the raw nature, produce and our cultural history.”
A culinary journey through a Nordic landscape: Reflecting the name – Maaemo is ancient Norse for “Mother Earth” – the menu is based almost entirely on ingredients sourced from the surrounding region. Some of the seafood, such as the hand-dived scallops, comes from the pristine waters of Norway’s northern coast, but most of the produce is grown or foraged in the area immediately around Oslo, focusing on organic and sustainable practices.
Any signature dishes? Among the stand-out dishes that helped put Maaemo on the map is Bang’s langoustine roasted in pine butter, glazed with a gel of spruce shoots. More recent classics include his remarkable chicken foot, with chicken liver and fermented lingonberry juice, decorated with glistening red sorrel leaves.
Theatrical dining: The kitchen is located on the mezzanine level and dinner is punctuated by the procession of waiters, and often chefs, too, carrying dishes down the gracefully curving stairs to the dining room. The best seats in the house are at the upstairs six-seat chef’s table, which faces directly in (through glass) to the intense activity in the kitchen.
Images: Tuukka Koski