Oslo, although not Europe’s largest capital – or even Scandinavia’s – is one of the easiest to get around in and do business in. First, its commercial center is relatively compact and has excellent public transportation that’s easy to use. A direct train line brings you into the city center from the arrivals terminal at Oslo airport (OSL).
Second: almost everyone speaks excellent English. In fact, you may overhear more lunch conversations in English than in Norwegian, as it’s the common language when business people from different Scandinavian countries meet.
So making reservations and discussing your needs with restaurants will be as easy as it is at home. Norway does not use the euro; the currency is the krone, usually exchanged at about eight to the US dollar.
All of these restaurants are centrally located and are open for dinner as well. But they are especially good for entertaining clients or discussing business over lunch.
Impress clients and be sure of an outstanding lunch at Palmen Restaurant, in the smartly updated Belle Epoch Palm Court at the heart of the Grand Hotel Oslo. The glass-domed roof, sumptuous velvet upholstery, central fountain and trellised walls speak of opulence without frippery. The atmosphere of cordial correct service and fine dining is well suited for social or business occasions; you could entertain old friends, CEOs or crowned heads here with equal aplomb. Begin with Steak Tartar, crayfish salad with herb mayonnaise and watercress, or an open-faced sandwich of pulled reindeer, each beautifully presented with appropriate condiments.
Main courses might be filet of halibut or other ocean-fresh seafood in dill sauce, or a confit of chicken leg with seasonal vegetables. Reserve one of the plush banquette tables under the fountain, or a more private corner in the upper room.
The opening of the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art signaled the regeneration of a waterfront neighborhood of Tjuvholmen – Thief Island – into a lively arts scene and an equally lively dining scene.
A highlight of the latter, Tjuvholmen Sjømagasin quickly moved to the forefront of Oslo’s dining revolution. From the moment you enter, past the aquarium filled with king crabs and lobster, the chef’s mission is clear, to serve the freshest and finest seasonal seafood and in creative, artistic ways. Choose shellfish at its simplest, singly from the shellfish bar or as a shellfish platter of fresh boiled lobster, prawns and steamed mussels served with dressings and fresh bread. But it would be a shame to miss the chef’s subtle blending of local ingredients into seafood salads and delectable soups brimming with perfectly cooked seafoods.
Facing the harbor at the end of Aker Brygge, Lofoten Fiskerestaurant is named for northern Norway’s Lofoten Islands that are known as the source of some of the finest seafood. For informal gatherings, book a table in the large street-level terrace. If you’re hosting a larger group and want complete privacy, ask about the chambre séparée. Wherever your table, your guests will dine on top quality fresh seafood. Begin lunch with ceviche of scallop with avocado and apple or Lofoten's signature fish soup garnished with the day's catch of fish and shellfish.
Oslo’s oldest restaurant, Engebret Café is in a building dating from the 1700s, and not surprisingly serves traditional Norwegian cuisine. Reindeer is always on the menu, but almost everything else changes to reflect the season – wild salmon and asparagus in the spring and summer, wild game, lamb and forest mushrooms in the fall. As soon as the weather allows, the garden restaurant opens, somewhat less formal than the historic interior, but also conducive to serious discussions; both are popular meeting places for political and business leaders.
Admittedly not convenient to the central commercial district, the restaurant overlooking the fjord from the hillside Ekeberg sculpture park is well worth the short tram or taxi ride. Ekebergrestauranten is set inside a prime example of early Modernism, a stunning white villa designed by architect Lars Backer in the late 1920s, itself set amidst a remarkable collection of outdoor art that includes sculptures by Rodin, Dali and Renoir.
The modern Norwegian menu is up to the setting and the views, and the combination is certain to impress clients and colleagues with your good taste.