It is not that easy to find new places to check out in a small town like Stavanger – and certainly not on a Sunday afternoon. We were going out with some friends and as the weather was good we looked into places like Bølgen & Moi (full), Sting (only opens at 3 PM), Hall Toll (closed on a Sunday) etc. In the end we decided to go for a new place called Matmagasinet located on the corner of Løkkeveien/Eiganesveien. Well, it has been there for a while I guess but it is new to me at least. The place is quite small and it seems to follow the concept that quite a few stores in Stavanger is following these days…it is part café, part coffee shop, part restaurant and part shop where you can buy food products (including Kusmi tea) to bring back home. The same concept is being used my e.g. FoodStory, Ostehuset etc. Anyway, we came there about 2 pm on a lazy Sunday afternoon and there were a table for us – they even have a few tables in the backyard if the weather behaves, how excellent is that? We decided to go for an antipasti menu as a shared starter while Nikki went for the risotto a fruite de mare (seafood risotto) while I was a bit more boring and went for the lasagna. This is not a restaurant by the way so you just place your order by the cashier and pay up front and the food will be served at your table. I tried to tell the young Swedish girl behind the counter that we wanted the antipasti as a starter but I’m not sure she totally understood my Stavanger dialect
We had to wait quite a bit for the antipasti to be served but it was a excellent platter: Brie de maux, pecorini, Parma ham, Italian salami, artichokes, olives, capers flowers(?), pesto etc. It was an excellent selection and a good starter for the four of us. The only problem was that it took so long to get it that we were only half way through it when the main dish was served – so you guys have to work on your timing a little bit! Nikki’s risotto was quite a sight when it was served. A good portion of risotto served with a big crayfish on top and with 3-4 scallops. It was of course Nikki’s food but she allowed me to taste a bit as I love risotto – the risotto was maybe a bit over cooked but with a great taste of seafood so I think good stock has been used here. It could also have been seasoned a bit more with salt and pepper but apart from that it was excellent and Nikki was also happy with the crayfish and scallops. Actually this risotto was far better than risottos we’ve had in many other fancy restaurants!
My lasagna was also a good portion and what seemed to be good chunks of meat in it. On the menu it says lasagne with meat ragu and that is actually what it tasted like…like the ragu I had in Bologna last year (see my Bologna trip report). It was maybe a bit on the dry side but I guess I’m just a bit spoiled as I make it all fresh at home from time to time (and there is nothing like home cooking right? ;-) We were actually quite full already but as it had been so great so far we decided to go all the way and also go for dessert. Nikki went for the carrot muffin and I went for the tiramisu (quite a boring choice once again). Nikki was not totally crazy about the carrot muffin as it was a bit compact and it also contained chocolate chips. My tiramisu was served in a small bowl and the taste was good but serving it in a bowl like this makes it look pretty messy if you ask me. I would have like to see more defined layers of cream and ladyfingers. I always try the caffe mocha hoping to find one that can match the one at Charlie Brown but I think I will stick to double espresso the next time.
But all in all I think we have found a small gem in Stavanger It is only a few minutes walk away from the city center but I doubt that it is as crowded as e.g. Ostehuset on a Saturday afternoon but I will certainly check it out. From the web pages I see that this place has been open since the end of 2007 and I’m wondering how I have been able to miss it. The owners, Ruth and Else, seems to have lots of experience from around the world and are inspired by the Italian kitchen – my kinda place in other words. Well guys, I will certainly be your guest again, that is for sure and I will certainly recommended your place to people that I meet. There are some details that could be improved like a web page in English, a larger selection of wine, timing of the starter vs. the main dish etc. But these things are only details – I will be looking forward to my next visit and the next time I’ll try Ruth’s famous chocolate cake.
The antipasti was about 175 Kroner (32 USD), the ristotto was 245 kroner (45 USD) and my lasagna was 28 USD). Here is the link to the Matmagasinet homepage: http://www.matmagasinet.no/ . The also have wi-fi available and you‘ll get the password if you ask them politely ;-)
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