Restaurants win new Michelin stars

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An Oslo restaurant specializing in organic food has become the first in the entire Nordic region to go directly into the prestigious Guide Michelin with two stars. Meanwhile, Norwegian restaurant owner Christen Sveaas made a triumphant return to Michelin’s guide with not only his re-opened eatery Bagatelle, but with its neighbouring, less expensive version as well.

It was the relatively new restaurant Maaemo in a rather unlikely location near the railroad tracks in Oslo’s Grønland district that caught the most attention in Norwegian media on Wednesday, when the Michelin Guide’s new stars were announced. Many view the Michelin star system as over-rated and hyperbole, but it still grabs attention and respect from lovers of good food around the world.

Now Oslo has a restaurant with two stars once again, and Maaemo chef Esben Holmboe-Bang told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) that he was in a state of “positive shock.” He said he and his staff were “incredibly proud … this is just fantastic.”

Four restaurants in Oslo shared a total of five stars in this year’s edition of Guide Michelin. In addition to Maaemo’s two stars, Christen Sveaas’ re-opened restaurant Bagatelle won a star as did Statholdergaarden and Restaurant Oscarsgate, which both had stars from before.

Bagatelle, which had stars for several years when high-profile chef Eyvind Hellstrøm had control of the kitchen, closed when Hellstrøm literally stormed out after disagreements with Sveaas. Now Sveaas can taste some sweet vindication by being back in Michelin’s solar system with a new star.

The smaller café-type restaurant that Sveaas opened next door to Bagatelle also won Michelin’s “Bib Gourmand” distinction, along with Oro Bar & Grill downtown.

The news wasn’t as good for long-time gourmet restaurant in Oslo Feinschmecker, which held Michelin stars from 1991 through last year but failed to win one this year. Another Michelin-starred restauarant in Oslo, Le Canard, closed last year and is due to reopen with an Asian menu.

Even though Norway boasts other gourmet restaurants in cities like Bergen and Stavanger, also in rural areas, none outside Oslo won Michelin’s attention.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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