We were recently invited to try Oslo’s newly launched Summer menu. For those who don’t know, Oslo is an exciting bar and live music venue in Hackney that serves up good food, decent plonk and even better music.
In terms of interiors, it has more East London industrial than Nordic vibes – volumes of low-lit space, under-the-arches aesthetic, bare-brick walls, fabric-clad lamps dangling above tables, exposed ducts on high ceilings and neon lighting. The site used to be a part of the Hackney Central Station and you can still feel the occasional rumble of a passing train.
The ground floor has the main bar and dining space, with a small window into the kitchen showing the chefs in action. Upstairs is the live music venue where the bands play. The space effortlessly transforms from a casual daytime hangout spot to a sexy night time bar, full of party vibes.
We kicked off the evening with cocktails (obvs). I had the Mai Tai (Havana Anejo Rum, Orange Curaçao, Orgeat Syrup, Pineapple Juice, Wray and Nephew’s White Rum). It was refreshing and heady. A few of those in a row could easily knock you out in a couple of hours.
Kris started his evening on a potent note with a Sazerac (Rittenhouse Rye Whisky, Absinthe, Peychaud Bitters, Sugar Syrup). It went down swimmingly. It had a good rye whisky base and the whiff of absinthe coming through.
For starters, we ordered the Pølse (Chargrilled Norwegian sausage on three tortillas with Pickled Cabbage, Lettuce, Spring Onions, Ketchup and Mustard). It was like a love child of a hot dog and a taco. It was a highly textural dish with a crispy tortilla base, sausage and pickled vegetables on top and slathered with ketchup and mayonnaise. Overall, pretty good!
Even better was my starter of Cod Bolinhos – Cod croquettes with a twist, served with Seaweed Tempura and Lime Mayo. I have had my fair share of croquettes and I can honestly say this was up there with some of the best I have had. The croquettes were quite ‘meaty’ and had a distinctive herby taste. My absolute favourite were the little crispy seaweed tempura that added a bit of crunch to the ensemble.
Mains were slightly more conventional affair. Kris had the Oslo Burger – Dry Aged Beef patty, Smoked Streaky Bacon, Swiss Cheese and Oslo’s special sauce, served with hand-cut chips. It looked and smelled like a good, proper burger. Inside the warm, soft buns was a formidable slab of full flavoured meat patty, so juicy that it left a puddle at the bottom of the plate. The rest of the elements were spot on too.
I opted for a cold main – Shrimp Sub (Baby Shrimps with Dashi Mayo, Baby Gem Lettuce, Spring Onions and Bonito flakes in a New England Brioche sub). Served with skinny fries, it was full of Nordic vibes and perfect for summer. The brioche was really soft and the whole thing was bursting with seafood.
Oslo is big on portions. Kris’s meat patty was massive; another blogger who ordered the steak looked like he had half a cow on his plate and my sub, which was classified as ‘small’, clearly wasn’t. I wouldn’t necessarily describe the dishes as game-changing but the quality of the ingredients used were definitely superlative.
We ended the meal on a sweet note with a decadent Chocolate Fudge Sundae – chunks of mighty fine brownie, nestled between vanilla ice cream and finished off with chocolate and caramel sauce.
Top marks to staff member Joanna who looked after our group (we were not an easy bunch to deal with) and soldiered on till the last orders!
Overall, we liked the food at Oslo, if not in love with it. To be honest, I was expecting more of a Nordic influence on the menu. But the couple of dishes we tried made it relevant to its name and little twists kept it interesting (the seaweed tempura, onion rings in beetroot batter). The quality of the ingredients put it a notch above typical bar food.
Oslo is a bar and music venue that has a name and an influence already. It is not trying to replace other Nordic establishments like Rök. But it wants to ensure that punters who flock to this place, not only enjoy the live music, the cocktails and the ambience, but against the backdrop of party tunes, the food kicks ass too!
Location : 1A Amhurst Road, Hackney, London E8 1LL
More information can be found here.
N.B. I was a guest at the event.