Before we traveled to Norway this spring, I did some searching for authentic Norwegian foods we might want to try. While the world is generally getting better at increasing its vegetarian options, Norway is one of those countries heavily founded on meat and seafood. So overall, I didn’t find too much in advance that I felt I HAD to try once we got there. Norway is also notoriously expensive. So for these reasons, rather than pick out any well-reviewed restaurants before we left, we decided we’d just wing it in regards to food. We had plenty of other things to plan, so leaving the meals unscheduled was fine.
I researched the phrase “I am vegetarian” in Norwegian (“jeg er vegetarianer”), but had been unable to figure out how to pronounce it before we left. I needn’t have worried, however, as literally (for real, literally) every single individual we met spoke English. There was more potential for issues while reading the packaging, but even that wasn’t too hard to get around. All the menus included English.
We ended up with a variety of food sources, including grocery stores, cafes, hotel restaurants, street stalls, and convenience stores. Prices ranged from around $25 (7-11) to $130 (Fretheim Hotel buffet) for a meal for 2 people. We also brought a box of granola bars with us from home. Whenever we were not near a good place to eat or weren’t ready for a full-priced meal, we ate one of those. They allowed us to space out our meals so we didn’t need as many.
Here’s what we ate (get ready for photo overload):
We got into Oslo midday and had had a breakfast on the flight. So around lunchtime we got a little cake (vanilla and guava fruit) and a cappucino from a street vendor to share. Very good!
For dinner we stopped at a 7-11 on the way back to our hotel. I had a cheese and tomato sandwich that was just mediocre. But my Belgian waffle was very satisfying. Kevin loaded up on beverages, as he does not really drink plain water.
For breakfast the next day, we stopped at the bakery downstairs in the hotel and got two pastries to share. They were different than anything I’ve tried before, and we enjoyed them. Not overly sugary like American pastries.
For lunch we ate granola bars since we were on the train to Flåm.
We had dinner at Ægir BrewPub. This one was a little trickier. There was only one vegetarian option – a “chevre burger.” I had tried goat cheese once before on a sandwich that I hated, so I was willing, but cautious, to try it again. This “burger” was just a giant piece of goat cheese with some toppings on a bun. Now that I’ve had it twice in two different countries, I can say with conviction that I hate goat cheese. The potatoes were really great, though there were too few of them.
Dessert was a concoction of whipped cream, gingerbread, and cloudberries! It made up for the goat cheese. Another win for European desserts!
The next day we took a ferry to Gudvangen and ate at the little cafe there. I had a veggie pizza that was not very Norwegian, I don’t think, but it was good (pictured next to Kevin’s non-vegetarian hot dog).
Back in Flåm, Kevin was still hungry and we had some time to kill before our next tour, so we stopped into the Toget Cafe for something to do. Kevin had a pasta and I had some dessert. It looked very simple, but the chocolate cake/fudge thing I had was so good!
For dinner we ate at the Fretheim Hotel buffet. This ended up being our most expensive meal ($130), but it was our anniversary that day, so we decided to splurge. The memories are worth it. There were a few unusual things, like the cold scrambled eggs. But the selection was great; plenty of veggies, cheese, fruit, etc. The unexpected highlights of the meal were the basic bread with butter, the yellow cherry tomatoes, the brie, and the brownies. We stuffed ourselves full!
The next morning was the breakfast version of this buffet. Thankfully that was included in the room rate. I was actually still full from dinner, so I wasn’t able to eat as much as I wanted. I tried my best. Kevin was able to eat more and so we only had granola bars around lunch time.
That night we did a big grocery store run and ate while relaxing in our hotel in Voss.
The next morning was another hotel breakfast. This hotel was way smaller than the previous night’s, so there were actually only three families there at the time. We were last to eat, and the owner offered to make more of anything that had run out, but I felt bad that he’d have to dispose of anything that was left over, so we declined and just ate our fill of what was there. For only three families, it was a lot of food.
After breakfast we took the train to Bergen for a whirlwind day of sightseeing before taking the overnight train back to Oslo late that night. So we did not have a “home base” hotel to rest at throughout the day. Because of this, I broke one of my travel rules: Never eat at an American chain when on vacation. Around midday we found ourselves in need of three things: food, a place to sit for a while and rest our feet, and a bathroom. We stopped into a few cafes, but they all had very high prices. So we ended up at McDonald’s (gasp!), which was able to fulfill all three needs for the cheapest price. At least we tried some menu items we don’t have at home. We tried chili cheese “tops” (basically poppers), and I got a spicy veggie sandwich. The “tops” were pretty good, but the veggie sandwich was pretty uninspiring. It was a just a patty, cheese, lettuce, and a red sauce. I think it would have been tastier with mayo, pickles, tomato and onion. But it did its job. At least the building was cool.
A few hours later we were in need of more rest and food (after walking to the top of the local viewpoint, which took an hour to do). We had asked around where we could find a good traditional Norwegian waffle, and were directed to a cafe in the Galleriet mall. I had a waffle with the traditional toppings of jam and sour cream (very good – I was too timid to try it with brown cheese), while Kevin had an early dinner. I also had a hot coffee beverage, which very oddly came in a glass with a straw. It was too hot to use the straw, but I also couldn’t lift it to drink until it was cooler either. I like my coffee hot, so having to wait for it to cool was kind of annoying.
On our last day, we woke up on our sleeper train pulling into Oslo and ate more granola bars for breakfast. We spent most of the day on the “museum peninsula” so we kind of missed lunch too. By the time we made it to dinnertime we were tired and hungry and ready to be done walking. We checked a few places that had pretty high prices, and we had about 100 kroner of cash left that we wanted to use up. If we went over that, we’d need to use our card and it would be hard to change that amount of currency back to dollars. So we skipped a restaurant altogether and got Thai street food.
We finished up with Norway’s “best waffle” at Harald’s Vafel, and this time I had the guts to try it with the brown cheese in addition to the jam and sour cream. I didn’t like it, but I’m glad I know now. The half without the brown cheese was super yummy. It was a perfect last bite in Norway.