Friday, June 24, 2011

Déjà vu

This restaurant, in the middle of a small shopping center had a bad start with me.

To begin with, I am generally not a big fan of restaurants in shopping centers. Lots of noise and generally not so good or cheap.

Then came the name. A French name for a restaurant which does not serve French food, nor has anything to do with France in general. Also, "déjà vu" is for things you have already seen somewhere. It generally gives you some comfort ("oh I know this place"-feeling) but to me, it sounds more like ("oh this place is nothing original, it's all already-seen, already-tasted place").

Finally the first few times I ate there I was not too impressed by the food and found it a bit expensive.

Well, things have changed and I must admit that I like this place. I often go there and just order some food on the go and we sometimes gather with other families with small children.

On the right a photo of their tapas. As you can see, there is a lot of different things, lots of colour and lots of taste. Everything taste quite good and the plate is well presented.

Actually, tapas is not what we order most. We generally go for the dish of the day. Also, the restaurant proposes a dish of the day. It is generally really good and changes often enough not to be bored with it (oven-baked chili chicken, Spanish style meatballs and more recently bacon pie with cream-sauce pasta).

It is also possible to pick up exactly what you want in the display of the restaurant. I generally use this option if there is something in particular that I want (cheese-filled peppers for example) but I think their tapas is the best quantity/price ratio.

Finally the restaurant has a menu but we generally either choose the dish of the day or their tapas.

Dishes are always served with pretty good bread and a very nice aioli (garlic mayonnaise), it is always nice to see that they don't fall in the easiness of serving just standard mayonnaise.

All in all, that makes Déjà vu a pretty good restaurant, clearly above the average of shopping center/mall restaurants. This restaurant is not the ideal place for a couple looking for a romantic dinner but it is a really good option for families with children.

PS: I am sorry I don't have more photos for this review, most photos were on my mobile phone but it accidentally fell on the floor and well... I lost the photos on it (quite a long story).

Sunday, June 19, 2011

XO Bar

Many people coming to Stavanger want to try something typical Norwegian. Unfortunately, this is not easy because Norwegian people mostly eat "international" food: burgers, sausages, sandwiches, pasta, ... You can have steaks, oven-cooked salmon, ... but nothing of this is specifically Norwegian.

The solution I have found is the XO Bar. I will not review the "bar" side of this place (this blog is not about bars) but this place also serves food and they more particularly serve "Komler". Komler is a typical, traditional Norwegian dish and you will probably not have it anywhere else in the world, so this is perfect for curious people willing to try Norwegian food.

A precise description of this dish can be found in wikipedia:
(notice that this dish can be called differently depending on where in Norway you are).

So the komler itself is a quite compact ball of smashed potato, flour and other ingredients. It does not have too much taste in itself but the point is to have it with bacon, salted lamb, sausages and other very tasty meats. So all in all the dish is pretty good and very filling.

Back to the review of the XO bar in general: this restaurant is quite nice, the service is better than the average in Norway and the prices are OK (the steaks are quite expensive but the meat is of high quality and meat in general is expensive in Norway).

What we recommend:
- Komler (because it is typical Norwegian, because it is original and because it is actually quite good)
- Typical Norwegian Christmas food (this implies that you go there during Christmas time but I believe this is one of the best place in Stavanger for Christmas food)
- The tenderloin of beef was really good but quite expensive (well the meat itself is expensive in Norway)

Otherwise we have tried two of their burgers (beef and chicken) and they were quite nice. Last time we even tried their lasagna and we were impressed (we were not expecting italian food to taste great there).

The only dishes we are less happy with is the fish soup (quite good but not the best place in Stavanger according to us) and the meat balls (vey nice brown sauce but the rest of the dish was not really special).

We have not tried their dessert but last time we were there, their "creme brulee" had a big success around us.

Also going a bit off-topic, once an interesting discussion happened at a table next to us. Well, interesting because I think it is a common mistake for people visiting Norway. Basically, a customer was complaining to have ordered trout and to have got salmon. The waiter tried his best to convince him that it was trout but it did not work. I personally believe the restaurant was right and that the problem is that people are used to river trouts with grey flesh. In Norway, it is quite common to eat ocean trout with pink/orange flesh. It looks like salmon and it tastes like salmon unless you are careful. Actually, most Norwegian people will eat trout and let the salmon for tourists (because let's be honest, Norwegian trout is not as famous as Norwegian salmon). So next time you come to Norway and you order trout, don't be too surprised if something looking like salmon arrives (this is true in whole Norway, not only in this restaurant). From wikipedia: "Salmon belong to the same family as trout"

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Torino Pizzeria

Eating out in Stavanger is generally expensive... What if I told you that you can eat a nice pizza for about 100 NOK in a newly-renovated place with nice and warm waiters ? Well, you would probably not believe me and yet this place exists, it is called Torino pizzeria and is close to the harbour.

We have been there the day they opened the restaurant (it was then called Oliven and you can still see that the theme of the restaurant is the olive) and have been there many times since then.

The first impression was that they had a beautiful kitchen. New, clean, with a stone oven for the pizzas... Good food, good service, good price.

A pizza for 1 person costs around 100 NOK and you can ask extra toppings for a small additional fee or big pizza for two persons. We can also see many people coming to fetch pizzas as it is possible to order them on the internet:

Below another pizza and their Calzone Torino. I was surprised at first by the association minced meat/calzone but I think it works out very well.

When it comes to pasta, they have quite good cannelloni that use the same dough as the pizzas. Quantity-wise this dish is a bit small but it comes with nice bread.

Torino pizzeria has also a menu for children: pasta, pizza... Our son liked both (ordered each at different occasions, not the same time) and I can say the quantity was more than enough for him (especially the pizza).

All in all, Torino Pizzeria is a good restaurant, very central in Stavanger, serving good food for small prices and deserves more customers.

Sunday, May 22, 2011


Charles&De is a nice restaurant located in Sandnes, not too far from Stavanger. Something quite impressive about this restaurant is that the cook (Charles Tjessem) has won the Bocuse d'Or, one of the most prestigious cooking prize. My wife and I have been there several times for lunch and something that always surprises me is the simplicity of the food. You would not expect to get burgers, salads and sandwich from the best cooks in the world and yet that is what the restaurant serves for lunch. To me, it really shows the nature of Norwegian people in general: simple and not at all show-offs. I would like to try this restaurant at night time though as this is a completely different menu (and surely a complete different culinary experience).

You order at the counter, take the bread/water yourself, ... the typical norwegian style. The only difference is that here, the bread is home made and you have a quite large choice of breads. The butter is nice but salted and there is no non-salted alternative.

Also, something quite interesting about this restaurant is that the kitchen is facing the street and has big windows so that everyone can see how cooks are working.

My wife ordered pasta with shrimps and asparagus and I ordered a sandwich. The pasta was pretty good and it was big enough for one person. The sandwich was maybe a bit too simple and a bit light for one person.

Charles&De has also various desserts and we tasted their tiramisu and a chocolate cake. I am generally not too fan of chocolate cakes as I find them a bit too sweet but this one was pretty good. The tiramisu was also quite good. The only thing is that both desserts were a bit small.

Concerning the prices, I don't think this restaurant is expensive compared to local prices (Stavanger and Sandes are quite expensive cities), ie they don't "charge" you for the fact that the cook has won a prize and as they are using good products, it cannot really get cheaper than that.

All in all, if you want a simple lunch with good quality raw products, Charles&De is a good option. Also, the casual style of the restaurant (at least for lunch) makes it possible to bring small children. But for people looking for some advanced cooking or for people going to this restaurant thinking about the Bocuse d'Or, this restaurant may be a bit disappointing for lunch.

Small Update

We went to Charles&De again and I wanted to share with you some new photos/comments.

The overall review from last time seemed correct this time again. Simple menu with high quality raw ingredients. I ordered a hamburger and my wife went for a shrimp sandwich. The hamburger was quite nice. I was surprised with the bread (more like sandwich bread) but it did actually fit pretty well. The meat was really nice too, so all in all I was satisfied with it.

My wife enjoyed her sandwich. A bit simple but well, traditional...

This time we also ordered the children version of the fish and chips. Tasted quite nice and was well presented.

We also ordered two desserts. A small strawberry tart that our son liked really much.

And a small chocolate mousse that my wife enjoyed even though she found it a little bit too sweet (but this can be said for desserts in general...).