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Where to try Norwegian Christmas food in Oslo

Richard Orange
Richard Orange - [email protected]
Where to try Norwegian Christmas food in Oslo
Here are some of the places you can sample a traditional Norwegian Christmas dinner in Norway. Pictured is a dish of Pinnekjøtt, with some less traditional sides like salad. Photo: Frazer Norwell/ The Local

Norwegian Christmas dishes such as lutefisk, pinnekjøtt, and juleribbe all require days to prepare. So foreigners in Oslo who want a taste of a traditional 'julemiddag' might find it easier to visit one of these restaurants.

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What are the essential dishes of a Norwegian Christmas Eve feast? 

Most Norwegian Christmas dinners will feature one or both of ribbe (pork ribs) or pinnekjøtt (salted, dried lamb ribs). Some more adventurous households have a tradition of eating lutefisk (cod preserved in lye).

Lutefisk is loved and loathed in equal measure, with many who taste it put off by its pungent smell and gelatinous texture. 

Pinnekjøtt, traditionally eaten in northern and western Norway but increasingly part of the Christmas menu in Oslo too, is cured in brine or sea salt and sometimes smoked, then left out to dry in a cold, dark place. Before eating, it needs to be soaked for several days and then steamed. 

Ribbe or juleribbe is made by slow-roasting fresh, uncured pork ribs to create a thick layer of crackling. 

Other Christmas dishes include the cod dish juletorsk, fermented rakfiskjulesild (pickled herring), rice pudding with whipped cream, 

In some parts of Norway, like Voss (and in some of Oslo's restaurants), you can also expect the smoked mutton head dish smalahove

Which restaurants in Oslo serve a traditional Christmas meal? 

Restaurants at Christmas serve a julebord, a buffet aimed at office parties and dinners for groups of friends. It is slightly different from the julemiddag (Christmas dinner) a Norwegian family might have, with a greater variety of dishes. But the classics will all be there. 

Stortorvets Gjastgiveri is one of Oslo's oldest restaurants. Photo: Didrick Stenersen/Visit Oslo

Stortorvets Gjæstgiveri

This is one of Oslo's oldest, and most traditional restaurants, located in the middle of the city centre. 

There's no julebord buffet, but the restaurant serves a juletallerken, or Christmas plate, for 525 kroner (€45), with ribbemedisterkaker (meatballs), julepølse (Christmas sausage), and trimmings such as rødkål (red cabbage), eple (stewed apple), sviske (prunes) and julesaus (Christmas sauce).  

The Christmas lunch or julelunsj is served between November 28th and December 22nd. 

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Ekebergrestaurangen 

Designed in 1927 by Lars Backe, Ekebergrestaurangen is one of Norway's finest examples of the funkis style, and the Ekebergparken next to it is the perfect place to walk off your Christmas meal.

On Advent Sundays -- December 3rd, 10th and 17th -- the restaurant serves a family julebord for 795 kroner (€69) for an adult and 295 kroner for children.

There's no list of dishes on the website, but you can expect to have all of the main hot and cold Christmas dishes.

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Bristol Grill

The Bristol Grill, the steak restaurant at Oslo's upmarket Hotel Bristol, has been serving a juletallerken Christmas plate since 1924, with the same selection of ribbemedisterkakerjulepølserødkål, and julesaus served at the other restaurants, but with the addition of fermented cabbage, or surkål. It will set you back 695 kroner (€61). 

It also serves the Christmas dishes lutefisk (695 kroner)pinnekjøtt (695 kroner) and rakfisk (550 kroner) a la carte.

Louise Restaurant and Bar 

The Louise Restaurant and Bar, a trendy fish restaurant in the modern Aker Brygge development, serves a juletallerken, for 495 kroner (€43), which includes ribbemedisterkaker, julepølse, and "traditional sides". They also serve lutefisk (695 kroner) and pinnekjøtt (695 kroner) a la carte. 

Gamle Raadhus Restaurant

The Gamle Raadhus Restaurant, based in a building dating back to 1641, serves a Christmas lunch a la carte every day from 11:30am to 2:30pm, with lutefisk for 725 kroner, rakfish for 635 kroner and pinnekjøtt for 765 kroner. 

Situated at the top of Holmenkollen, the Finstua restaurant is a classic place for a Christmas lunch. Photo: Icecube Media/Visit Oslo

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Restaurant Finstua

With its fantastic views from the top of the Holmenkollen mountain, and its location in a charming 19th century wooden building, Restaurant Finstua is one of the most popular choices for an atmospheric Christmas meal. 

They serve a juletallerken, for 445 kroner (€38), which includes ribbe, medisterkaker (meatballs), julepølse (Christmas sausage), and trimmings such as rødkål (red cabbage), and eple (stewed apple). They also serve pinnekjøtt a la carte. 

On the 23rd, 26th and 27th of December, they serve a Christmas buffet, which costs 645 kroner on the 23rd and 715 kroner on the other two days.  

If you are a party of 25 or more, you can order a buffet on any day for 1,045 kroner per person. 

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Helt Vilt 

Helt Vilt, a restaurant specialising in wild game dishes, based in Oslo's Mathallen food hall, serves a Christmas menu to groups of eight or more between November 8th and December 31st. 

The juletallerken Christmas plate has medisterkake, medisterpølse sausage, and the normal trimmings, but, in keeping with the wild game theme, the ribbe are made from the ribs of wild boar. 

The Christmas menu costs 725 kroner (€62) for a starter, main course and dessert. 

The restaurant can also arrange a julebord buffet. 

Lorry Restaurant

The eccentrically decorated Lorry Restaurant, with a giant stuffed giraffe, has been a feature of Oslo's cultural life since the latter years of the 19th century. 

It offers a julelunsj, with lutefisk (495 kroner), pinnekjøtt (495 kroner), a juletallerken (495 kroner), smalehove (615 kroner), and a ribbesmørbrød (232 kroner) open sandwich with ribs, and an evening julemeny when lutefisk and pinnekjøtt are both 725 kroner, a juletallerken is 625 kroner, and smalehove for 615 kroner

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