Engebret Cafe is Oslo’s oldest restaurant. They have a rich and storied history that stretches all the way back to 1857. This is a fantastic restaurant that serves authentic Norwegian cuisine. If you have a craving for some of the best potatoes you will ever have, seasonal cod, whale, elk and reindeer, you need to check these guys out. Next time you are in Oslo, make sure you stop in for a taste of history. If you mention the podcast, Kay will personally show you around. Make sure you shoot an email ahead of time!
Any restaurant that has been open since 1857 is going to have its share of adversity. Engebret had a small fire in 1907 that forced them to do some small renovations. This led to the golden years of the restaurant. This is the time period that Kay has tried to reproduce at Engebret Cafe today!
World War II brought the German occupation. They took over the restaurant and began serving many German dishes. Locals in Oslo boycotted the restaurant because of the anti-German sentiment. It wasn’t until the late 1950s that locals started embracing Engebret Cafe anew.
Even though there was adversity, Engebret Cafe has persevered. They are still around today because of this hard-earned resilience.
Kay made it very clear, Engebret Cafe goes out of their way to embrace their tradition. When he took over in 2006, the previous owners had run the restaurant into the ground. They had lost their identity. They moved away from Norwegian cuisine and started serving pizzas and other popular items. This move didn’t work for them and they almost ruined the restaurant because of it.
Kay’s first move was to fix up the staff locker room. He walked in and saw where the staff was supposed to change. He felt they couldn’t possibly be effective at their job if they started their shift that way. After going out of his way to treat his employees right, he started to shift their focus back to what Engebret Cafe once was.
Over the years, they have restored the restaurant to the way it was back in 1910. He considers this the golden era for the restaurant. However, instead of popular dishes, like burgers and pizza, the menu has returned to classic Norwegian dishes. They focus on seasonal food that they get from local producers. This strategy has worked very well for them. He took a dying restaurant and has turned it into a restaurant that is completely booked almost every day they are open.
Edvard Grieg was a famous composer and pianist in Norway. He was one of the many artists to come through Engebret Cafe over the years. In the early 1900s, he loved the cafe so much, he bought them a piano so that he’d have something to play when he was visiting.
Engebret Cafe has been a sponsor of local artists almost since their inception. Many of the pictures and sculptures in the establishment are done by local artists. Every year Engebret Cafe sponsors a scholarship for a young local artist. It is really cool to hear that they give back to their heritage and history in that way.
Where To Find Engebret Cafe?
If you are going to Oslo, Norway, you have to check out Engebret Cafe. They are often booked every day, so make sure you get a reservation before your visit. Kay said if you mention the podcast, he will personally show you around the restaurant and point out some of the unique pieces in the restaurant. You can find their website here. You can also follow them on Facebook here.
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