Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Phileas Fogg: a beautiful restaurant based on the Jules Vernes roman

Date of the meal: 27/05/2012
Number of people: 3 adults and 1 child (2 yo)
Order and price: Bourbon Street (tenderloin of beef with a glazed bourbon sauce) 299NOK, Bar B.Q. Spareribs 289 NOK and Bourbon chicken 175NOK

Website of the restaurant: http://www.phileasfogg.no/

Who hasn't heard about the roman "Around the world in 80 days" by Jules Vernes? Well, Phileas Fogg is a restaurant based on this roman (it is the name of the main character). Serving food from around the world, it has an interior decoration that reminds customers of travels (here you sit on a train-like seat, there you find a plane, overthere is where you buy tickets...). People can feel how much effort was put into this (so many carefully selected objects here and there) and it is a success. You are immerged in this world. Also, this restaurant is perfectly located in Stavanger city center, next to the harbour.

On Sunday, we went there with one Norwegian friend. I ordered the BBQ spareribs which is served with corn on the cob, coleslaw salad and deep fried potatoes.

As you can see, this dish was huge, especially the quantity of spareribs. Half of it would still have been decent. The spareribs themselves were good, just some parts were a bit overcooked/dry. The sauce was said to be "piquant" (spicy) on the menu but I think most people can handle this level of spicy. Also, some of the sauce was set apart so that customers could chose themselves how much they wanted of it. The only disappointment for me was the corn that did not taste much. Still, I think this dish is quite nice and I can recommend it to people who like spare ribs (and are hungry).

My Norwegian friend and my wife both went for bourbon dishes. My friend chose the "Bourbon street" which is with tenderloin of beef while my wife ordered the "Bourbon chicken". The beef was good, very tender and was served with sautéed vegetables and gratinated potatoes. The sauce was of course a bourbon sauce. It went particularly well with the vegetables and the meat and my friend was really satisfied with the dish in general. 

The Bourbon chicken was good too but the chicken itself lacked a bit of taste and my wife wished it had been prepared with at least more pepper and salt. Otherwise the dish was good, including the fries that came with it.

All in all, Phileas fogg, is a beautiful restaurant in the center of Stavanger. The prices are a bit high but the dishes are huge and quite good. Have a nice trip!

Friday, May 25, 2012

La piazza: nice italian restaurant next to the harbour

Date of the meal: 25/05/2012
Number of people: 2 adults and 1 child (2 yo)
Order: Capricciosa (from the children menu), 14. Farfalle al Salmone and 43. Calzone con Spinaci
Total price: 551 NOK (about 180 for a pizza or for a pasta meal, 75 for a child)

It has actually been about 5 years since I first went to "La Piazza". My Italian friends invited me there and if Italian people themselves go to an Italian restaurant, it is generally a good sign. Today, as someone voted on the poll for an Italian restaurant (the poll is about which restaurant to review next), I decided to go there to review it.

First of all, this restaurant is well placed, next to the harbor of Stavanger. For curious people, "la piazza", means the place, the square, as in "Leicester square". It fits perfectly with location of the restaurant, in a place with a small fountain. If you want to access to the restaurant with a stroller or a wheel chair, you will have to go from the back side (from the bar/night club "Checkpoint Charlie").

Then, I have to say that this restaurant is quite beautiful, having been renovated not so long ago. Also, the cutlery is nice, tables are covered with "real" tablecloth (not the paper or plastic ones).

Going to the food review, we were served some warm hand-made breads to make us wait which was a good surprise. Concerning the main dish, my wife ordered the Farfalle al Samone, which is pasta with Salmon (easy to guess). She liked the pasta and the sauce, and the dish was very filling. The only small negative point is that she found the salmon a bit salty, but it may be because Japanese people eat less salty food.

I went for the Calzone con Spinaci. Again, Spinaci is quite easy to understand, it is Spinach. The Calzone is a "closed" pizza that always reminds me of the drawing of the little prince novel by St Exupery. It was served with a tomato sauce and a gorgonzonla sauce. What I really liked was the dough and the gorgonzola sauce. Actually the gorgonzola sauce did not look nice but its taste was really good, maybe too strong taste, though, if you are not used to eating this kind of cheese. Also the pizza was perfectly cooked, not overcooked, not undercooked. The tomato sauce was fine but not exceptional.

The children menu proposes different kind of pasta or a pizza of your choice from the adult menu. This gives quite a lot of freedom if your child wants something in particular. We simply chose the "Capricciosa" pizza with ham and mushrooms (the name of the pizza is easy to guess, it means "capricious" but it is more difficult to guess what toppings this implies). The pizza was quite good and I appreciate it when restaurants have good quality meals for children.

To conclude, the service was good too and as the prices are not excessive, I think "La Piazza" is still a good restaurant, a "classic" in Stavanger.

The restaurant has a website but it is a bit outdated. For example, the opening hours on the website do not fit with the ones displayed on the menu. Here are the ones from the menu today (25/05/2012):
Monday-Friday    16:00 - 23:00
Saturday-Sunday  14:00 - 22:00
(kitchen closing half an hour before the restaurant closes)

That's it for this review. Hope this was useful. Don't hesitate to leave a comment, whether or not you agree with this review. Thanks!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Bacchus: a good place for light meals

Date of the meal: 22/05/2012
Number of people: 3 adults
Order: Bacchus speciality, Greek salad and Amor salad
Total price: 349 NOK (about 110 for a salad and 130 for other meals)

If you are looking for a small cafe-restaurant where you can eat light meals for less than 150 nok, Bacchus is the place for you. Not too far from harbour, Bacchus is situated in Stavanger city center (sentrum), just next to the "coloured-house-street" (street with houses of different colours).

Bacchus is more a cafe than a restaurant but proposes also salads, sandwiches and light meals. We were there today with my Norwegian friend. He had a meal called Bacchus speciality, with marinated chicken, tomatoes, lettuce, cucumber, tsatsiki and polar bread (sorry the photo is not so good as the chicken pieces were under the vegetables). The chicken was a bit spicy but my friend liked it (and he does not eat spicy food), and I have also ordered it several times in the past and I like it too.

My wife went for the Greek salad, ie lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, feta cheese, olives, tsatsiki and toasts. She liked it but thought the olives were a bit acid (probably marinated with lemon).

I ordered the amor salad. Potatoes, eggs, tsuna, served on bread. I liked it and found it a bit original. We did not have desserts this time but they also have some nice cakes (at least we like their apple cake).

All in all, bacchus is a good place for light meals because it is ideally situated (not far from the harbour but still in a quieter area), because the prices are reasonables, and because their meals are quite good. The only problem is that in busy hours, it can be quite full; there is not enough space for strollers inside so you will have to leave yours outside if you have one (they have a backyard for that, ask them to open the door for you).

PS: by the way, if you wonder about what/who is Bacchus, he is basically the god of wine, the roman equivalent of Dionysus.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Buffet part 4: Bølgen&Moi

Date of the meal: 20/05/2012
Number of people: 2 adults and 1 child (2 yo)
Order: 2 Sunday Buffet
Total price: 690 NOK (345 nok per adult)
Other restaurants proposing a Sunday buffet: Akropolis and Mikado (Alanyal has unfortunately stopped serving a sunday buffet).

In my review of Bølgen&Moi here, I was explaining how Bølgen&Moi was a good restaurant but with the problem of being a bit slow to serve food. I was also explaining that even though it was a quite formal place to eat in the past, it had become quite informal recently. Well, it seems that the restaurant has decided to rectify both points by offering a Sunday buffet. This means that the food is ready when you arrive (no more waiting time) and the price is probably in order to become again a formal place to eat, which may be a shame, as it was quite practical for families with children to come here after or before a visit to the oil museum.

Today the weather was nice so we got a lovely view of the sea/bridge/harbour from the restaurant.

The buffet includes breads, salads, warm dishes, cheese and desserts. Today there was quite a lot of choice for breads and salads. There was some ham, chorizo, salami and pate (lever) with bacon. The warm dishes were pork with bbq sauce, sausages, meat balls with tomato sauce and bacalao. As a side dish you had boiled potatoes. There were two types of cheese including blue cheese and for desserts, the choice was quite wide, with for example fresh fruits (apple, figs, raspberry, ...), carrot cakes, chocolate cupcakes, chocolate mousses, and a strawberry mousse.

As the buffet will not feature the exact same dish all the time, it would be useless for me to comment on every single dishes. I would simply say that the salads were good and diverse (pasta salad, tomato salad, vegetables only, with some fish, ...).

The main dishes were a bit disappointing: the pork was a bit dry and the bbq sauce was a bit bitter (I actually found it interesting but my wife did not appreciate it). The sausages were nothing particular (not bad either). And the bacalao was quite salty (but that may be the way bacalao is supposed to be). The potatoes were quite good but was the only side dish option.

The cheese and the cakes were good. I particularly liked the chocolate cupcakes which really tasted chocolate (nowadays too many chocolate desserts only taste sugar). The fruits were also good and were giving a little refreshing touch to the meal.

All in all, I think the buffet is quite nice but a bit expensive. The main dishes were a little under the quality of the rest of the buffet but that may change over time (if I understood correctly, they do not intend to serve the same dishes every weeks).

As usual, your comments are welcome. You can share this review or give it a +1 mark, that would keep the team motivated for the future reviews.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Renå Xpress, a nice place for sandwiches and coffee

Date of the meal: 19/05/2012
Number of people: 2 adults and 1 child (2 yo)
Order: 1 sandwich, the soup of the day and 1 pastry
Total price: 208 NOK (about 70-80 for a sandwich and 65 for the soup)

I have already reviewed Renå Matbaren here. As mentioned there, Renå is actually 3 restaurants:  the gourmet restaurant where you get to eat really refined cuisine, the so-called food-bar ("matbaren" in Norwegian), which is a more "standard" restaurant and finally you have Renå Xpress, the new one which is not formal at all. This is the one we went to today.

First, I would say that Renå Xpress, or Renaa Xpress is more a coffee shop than a restaurant. They are mainly serving sandwiches, the soup of the day, some salads, some pastries, and smoothies/coffee/tea. We also saw some people coming simply to buy some bread.

Today, the soup of the day was an asparagus soup with bacon. My wife generally enjoy their soups and today was no exception. The only thing was that the stringy threads of asparagus fiber were a bit unpleasant in the mouth. I went for the grilled vegetables sandwich, which was quite good. The grilled vegetables were giving plenty of taste to the sandwich and the bread was fitting nicely with them.

Something else I would like to say is that they have a very nice terrace outside Renå Xpress with a part reserved for Renå Xpress customers. This terrace is very nice because of the high roof and the luminosity which make people feel outside, without really being outside (this is a major advantage in Stavanger since it is raining so often). Also, the chairs, tables, ... are good as they are provided by the furniture shop next to it. And finally, in the same court, you can find a flower shop, which gives some really nice smell to the area.

To conclude, Renå is doint it quite well with its 3 restaurants, each in a different range of prices. Gourmet experience, nice restaurant or just a sandwich/soup, the choice is yours.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

XO bar / Vertshuset

Date of the meal: 17/05/2012
Number of people: 3 adults

Order: "Beef Saute", "Selection of trout, catfish and monk fish", "Tenderloin of deer"
Total price: 1056 NOK (about 300 for a la carte main course)

I have already reviewed this restaurant here and explained why I thought it was a good place for people willing to try a typical Norwegian dish (komler).

Today, for the 17th of May (Independance day of Norway), we thought that eating Norwegian food would particularly fit and decided to go there. We were with a Norwegian friend of mine. As the 17th May is a bit chaotic for restaurants, they were only proposing a-la-carte menu.

My friend went for something quite typical Norwegian: "biffsnadder". It is basically small pieces of beef with bearnaise sauce. The meat is generally well-done but you can probably asked less cooked if you prefer. My friend liked it very much and said it was really good. He liked the texture, the composition of the plate and the taste of the meat. The bearnaise sauce was also quite good and was put apart which in my opinion is a good thing, as you can choose how much you want of it.

My wife went for something called "fish symphony" in the menu in Norwegian. The menu in English only says "selection of trout, catfish and monk fish", which is a shame as "fish symphony" was a pretty name. It was a selection of three fish, served with vegetables and potatoes of your choice (gratinated, french fries, ...). My wife liked it but did not think it was exceptional.

As for me, I ordered the tenderloin of deer which was really good. Good quality of meat, well cooked and the sauce was really good too. Also, I don't have the occasion to eat deer that often.

Speaking about prices, this restaurant may be a bit expensive but you have to remember that it is located in city center, that meat of that quality is expensive and that overall Stavanger is an expensive city.

All in all, this was a really good dining experience. For more details about the restaurant, atmosphere, service and so on, please relate to the first post I wrote about this restaurant. You could also visit the website of the restaurant. Don't hesitate to share this page, comment it, facebook-like it, google+1 it, etc...

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Naree Thai, a cheap restaurant in Stavanger

Date of the meal: 13/05/2012
Number of people: 2 adults and 1 child (2 yo)
Order (number in parenthesis is the number in the menu): Chicken soup with lemon and chili (21), Fried chicken with cashew nut - lunch portion (450), Fried chicken with ginger - dinner portion (58), Beef fried rice thai style from the children menu (920)
Total price: 372 NOK (about 80 nok for a lunch meal, 140 for a dinner meal)

I was introduced to this restaurant by a Tunisian friend. He told me this was his favorite restaurant in Stavanger and I have to admit that Naree Thai is a good option, especially for people on budget.

The principle of this restaurant is to propose meals in two ways: the lunch portion for people who are not too hungry and the dinner portion more expensive but more voluminous. It is in my opinion a very good idea as it reduces the food waste and makes prices attractive if you are not too hungry. 2 comments about lunch/dinner. First, to avoid any confusion for people speaking abit of German, Latin or whatever language close to Norwegian. Dinner in Norwegian is "middag". This may be confusing for people thinking "mid-dag = mid-day = meal in the middle of the day = lunch" but that's the way it is. So "Lunsj" (pronounced the same way as in English) is lunch, and "middag" (pronounced as it is written) is dinner. The second comment is that normally, the restaurant only offers lunch potion for lunch (ie until 18 o'clock form Monday to Saturday and not available on Sunday) BUT my experience has shown me that they are flexible (could see many people order lunch even outside lunch time).

What I particularly like in this restaurant are the soups. Thai soups have incredible rich flavours and aromas due to the many ingredients used to make them. Notice that not all these ingredients are eatable (some roots, leaves or vegetables are too hard to be eaten). But again, these ingredients (even though not eatable) are essential to give the soups a good taste. Today, I went for the "Chicken soup with lemon and chili". For soups too, you have the choice between small and large portion. I would recommend the small portion if you are having it as a starter and large portion if you have it as a main or want to share it (1 large portion should be enough for 2 maybe even 3 people). This soup is really nice. Lots of flavour, a hint of lemon, a bit of chili, ... It was just a little bit spicy and I think most people could handle this level of spice.

My wife had the "Fried chicken with cashew nut", in lunch portion. She likes this dish and has it quite often. I am generally not a big fan of nuts in meals but I have to admit that in this dish, the cashew nuts fit pretty well with the sauce. Today, the dish was a bit more spicy than usual and for people not used to hot dishes, or who cannot eat spicy food, it would have been a bit too spicy (still I would not say it was impossible to eat).

I went for the "Fried chicken with ginger" in dinner portion (as you can see in the pictures, the dinner portion is more voluminous than the lunch portion). This dish was said to be a bit spicy on the menu and it was. The meat, the onions and the sauce was just a tiny bit spicy but the ginger bits were quite spicy. If you don't like spicy food, you would still have been able to eat it by just leaving the ginger. Other than that this dish was pretty good but not exceptional.
We ordered fried rice for our son. It was quite good and the portion was in my opinion just what we needed (not too much to avoid wasting food, and not too little so that my son had enough to eat).

All in all, I think Naree Thai is a very good option for people on budget. For low prices, you will be able to eat pretty good food, especially when it comes to soups. If you don't like or cannot eat spicy food, you should precise it when you order your meals.
Here is the link to the restaurant: http://www.nareethairestaurant.no/ and here is the google map of it: http://maps.google.no/maps?q=naree+thai+stavanger

Feel free to use the google +1 button, it makes this article easier to find on the internet. You can also leave a comment, whether you agree or disagree with this review (or would like some more information). Thanks!