One can certainly become skeptical when reading the many hymns of praise for the restaurant Pjoltergeist in the international food blogs and magazines. Or, you can do what I did the other day and see for yourself what Atli Mar Yngvason and his team are up to there in Oslo.
The nondescript entrance to the building at 15 Rosteds gate B looks more like it leads to a somewhat wizened pub. Actually, the picture is not deceiving at all, because exactly such a pub, actually a bar of the Hells Angels, was located here before the restaurant moved in – and the conversion and renovation measures since then, well, rather manageable. It is dark, crowded and noisy.
Zuper Pakki is the name of the large menu of about ten courses. And that’s exactly why I made the detour to Oslo. To do this, as I discussed with Sverre, the owner and wine expert at Pjoltergeist, I try my way through the rather large range of open Natural Wines. As soon as you sit at one of the closely arranged tables, you start talking to your neighbors on the right and left. It’s all about the dishes at Pjoltergeist, about Oslo in general, and along the way I learn about one or two exciting new openings in the city that I might visit the following day. 18 hours, I realized already on the walk from my Airbnb accommodation to the restaurant, are far too little for this city!
It starts with a glass of El Bandito Skin from Testalonga and bacon chips. Vegetarian dishes are not so insanely high in the Pjoltergeist. With this greasy crunch, there is some time to study the menu at leisure, which was kindly expanded for me with handwritten English translations.
Things get really exciting with tako-yaki, small squid balls under a lush layer of katsuobushi, or dried and smoked bonito, accompanied by an intense herb mayonnaise and a sauce reminiscent of teriyaki. This is comfort food at its finest: spicy, sweet, crunchy.The next course is much finer, with a stick of deep-fried asparagus under a small mountain of Parmesan, accompanied by a tarragon mayonnaise. A bit difficult to eat with chopsticks and your fingers – but that’s also part of the concept at Pjoltergeist. Classical cutlery is not to be found in most dishes – but napkins are not spared.
Originally intended as a sharing dish for two, I now have the pleasure of a whole, grilled mackerel on my own. The fish is pure, roasted crispy on the outside, almost raw on the inside. In addition, a light little salad – and in the glass, meanwhile, I arrived at a biodynamic Matassa blanc.
The next course’s artichoke is made into a surprisingly powerful plate by a hearty beef broth, lots of onions, an intense puree and crispy bacon(?) chips. Also very tasty – although it was said that chef Atli Mar Yngvason can’t stand vegetables, especially artichokes.
After many Asian echoes, the next course takes us in the direction of South America. Until a few days ago, the tacos were served with grasshoppers imported from Mexico itself. Maybe just as well, I think, that they are out tonight. Due to the increasing volume, the exact composition of the ingredients didn’t quite get through to me. In any case, the tacos are extremely spicy and in addition to a plucked meat from the Managlitza pig, there are always small popped fragments of the rind in between.
The main course then heads further east again for Korean bulgogi, a crispy grilled and carved entrecôte with a black bean paste, a chili mayonnaise, lettuce leaves for wrapping and a piping bottle of fermented chili. Accompanied by a glass of Riesling from Egon Müller.
The happy ending comes in the form of a dab of caramel ice cream with crumble and, befitting the occasion, a drink from the Pjolter menu. Meanwhile, the surrounding tables fill up yet another time – the kitchen is open here at least until midnight. This is certainly another reason why the Pjoltergeist is so popular, especially with guests from the catering industry.
The combination of the extremely casual atmosphere, loud music and many small soul food dishes with partly unusual and high-quality products, the sensational wine list with many open positions and the overall moderate prices (by Norwegian standards) makes Pjoltergeist a very special address. Admittedly, you have to like and want all this – I like and want it just as much. And the next time I visit Oslo, I’ll just hang on for a few more days, because there’s still a lot to discover here.
Rosteds gate 15 b
0178 Oslo, Norway