Louise Restaurant and Bar: Aker Brygge’s oldest restaurant is an unofficial institution
By Eva-Kristin U. Pedersen | Photos: Louise Restaurant and Bar
Every city has its unofficial institutions – restaurants, bars or shops that have been there for years and constitute a shared point of reference for the inhabitants. Oslo is no different; the Norwegian capital has its own handful of places that – although they are private – are urban cornerstones for locals, as well as for visitors.
Not all such institutions can please both old and new generations, remaining instead the darlings of a select cohort. However, one that can make that claim is Louise Restaurant and Bar in the fashionable and fascinating Aker Brygge area, right in the centre of Oslo. “Our customers span from 18 to 70 years old,” says Fridtjof Gjelseth, the general manager at Louise.
Gjelseth explains that Louise attracts clients of all ages partly because the well-known restaurant turns into a bar with DJ after dinner, on weekends. “Older people come to Louise because they have memories from here, and young people come because they are attracted by the club,” he explains.
Louise Restaurant and Bar is just one of many restaurants in the area – which is one of Oslo’s most popular spots on sunny days – but it boasts one feature that none of the others can: it’s the oldest restaurant at Aker Brygge. As the area has expanded almost beyond recognition over the years, Louise has sat tight, taking advantage of both its aura as an institution and the daily influx of people visiting Aker Brygge to enjoy lunch in the sun, a drink in the afternoon, a nice dinner by the fjord – or a late-night party.
Oslo’s best shellfish and cheese – on the doorstep
That’s thanks, not least, to the food served at Louise. The restaurant offers fresh seafood, most of it from Norwegian waters, and is even known to have the best shellfish in Oslo, according to Gjelseth. Although the basics stay the same, their menu changes slightly from season to season. Gjelseth says that some of the most famous names in Norwegian cuisine have helped put together this season’s offering.
To season their tasty seafood dishes, the chefs at Louise use homegrown herbs. While Aker Brygge might appear to be a collection of expensive offices and fancy restaurants, the past few years have seen an expansion in more than its property offerings. Today, a range of exciting projects take place there – one of which is an urban gardening start-up, supplying herbs to restaurants on the famous waterfront. Another exciting newcomer is a cheese producer. Louise Restaurant and Bar takes advantage of both. “We get herbs and cheese at km zero,” Gjelseth says with a smile.
A popular ‘julebord’ destination
While summer is the definite high season at Aker Brygge, Louise is also a favoured destination in the winter – especially at Christmas, when they serve traditional Norwegian Christmas food. Many companies opt to celebrate the traditional Norwegian ‘julebord’ (the Christmas banquet) at Louise. Not least because, as desserts are served, the DJ takes over – so guests can shake off the dinner and enjoy a drink without having to change locations. “We’re the only restaurant here that turns into a club on weekend nights, and that makes us very popular,” Gjelseth underlines.
One of Oslo’s most beautiful places?
If you’ve never been to Aker Brygge, it’s a must-see destination for your next visit to Oslo. The view is majestic: the Akershus Fortress towers over the fjord, where ferries and boats travel back and forth in the distance, tracing miniature wakes on the water. In the summer, the sun heats up the docks, making it a perfect spot to catch some urban sun. In the winter, when it’s cold enough, the reflection of the low sun on the water and snow-covered surroundings is breathtaking.
Needless to say, in Oslo, outdoor seating is mostly reserved for spring and summer – although Gjelseth says that Louise keeps a few tables outside throughout the year for the most adventurous visitors. This summer, however, Louise has refurbished their outdoor area, boasting brand-new furniture, and the manager is excited to welcome guests back to the restaurant. Louise is a traditional, yet innovative, ever-expanding establishment – a real institution among Oslo’s plentiful restaurants.
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