Here in Scandinavia, there's a chain of steakhouses called Jensen's Bøfhus that supposedly serves great steak cuts at a competitively reasonable price. It looked good from the outside and beckoned me to enter. I had walked about the whole afternoon, exploring the city and finding places with WiFi access (most places do have it).
Back to the meat. Practically, every cut attempted on that piece of shoe leather ended up sawing on a piece of gristle that just could not be sliced through. Every morsel had to be eventually pulled apart from the anchor slab.
You know what's tough about eating gristly meat? You can't chew the meat. You have to just swallow that piece whole. Chewing only tires out the jaw. If a sharpened steak knife with a serrated edge can't cut through the sinewy sheathes, what can 50-year old worn down choppers gonna do? Worse is when attempting to chew the morsel, a piece of it would get stuck between the teeth. Well, that's often an inconvenience. But what's worse here is that when you try to swallow the remaining chunk, it doesn't get swallowed, as it's still connected to the stringy bit stuck between the teeth, so the morsel is dangling in your throat, dipping in and out, forcing you to gag on the half-swallowed meat. Ack!
After dinner, I walked about some more, trying to burn up the unmasticated meal sitting in my gilliver. Dropped by an old friend, 3 Brødre to check on the piano bar. Alas, tis not open on Tuesdays. So the stroll then took me along the shopping district of Karl Johans Gate, then over to Bogstadveien, and then finally back to the Majorstuen neighborhood where I was staying. With a constant, although mild, shower raining down, the whole evening could have been better.
The Scandinavians have a love affair with sushi and southeastern fare. The whole city is teeming with sushi bars. Some are huge, high-end places (Hanami in the Aker Brygge district) but most are small hole-in-the-wall operations serving tasty selections at very reasonable prices.
So now, I'm in search for a great steak place. Or at least a not-so-bad place. Maybe it was just Jensen's, or just that piece. Two days later, I went by Cafe Christiania, a nice, dark wooded restaurant that just oozed warmth and experience. It just happened to be right next door to the Jensen's. I ordered a rack of lamb and it was somewhat flavorful, but still lacked texture (and again, some gristles again). Unlike Jensen's, the sides were served on the plate and not in separate bowls.
Two days after that, I stopped at the Big Horn Steakhouse in the Aker Brygge district. Now, what can go wrong with a quintessential American-style steakhouse restaurant, right? It's a chain, but I figured it should have the taste and style of an American steakhouse, even though I wanted something not-so American. (I can always get something American when I'm back home.)
Well, I'm just going to conclude that Norwegians have a different standard for what is a good tasting piece of meat it. First, I think they raise them to be too lean. There were hardly any marbling in any of the samples I tried. Second, there is just no taste to them (probably due to the leanness of the cuts). If you were to tell me these meat were actually lab grown man-made meat-like products, I wouldn't immediately doubt you. Again, there was gristle that made slicing a piece difficult.
I was again left with having to pull the pieces apart instead of cutting them apart like any other piece of meat would require. And again, I couldn't complete my meal because I just didn't have the patience to chew on the blandest piece of meat I've encountered in a long while. The dinner was served almost exactly like Jensen's: two sides were placed in their own individual bowls. Béarnaise sauce was likewise offered, although all it tasted like was yellow. I guess Norway has never been known as a haven for foodies, and certainly, my experience here has confirmed that.