A few years back this place was called “Bryggeriet” I think and right before City Brasserie & vinbar took over they installed “wine machines” – a machine where the bottles are kept with nitrogen I guess to preserve it longer (I have seen similar ones in butcher shops in Tuscany – see this trip report). The result was of course that they could offer many wines by the glass every day which I really enjoyed. Anyway, City Bistro took over and turned it into City Brasserie & vinbar and I had big expectations as there isn’t really a proper wine bar in Stavanger. So I was a bit peeved when the first thing they did was to remove the machines. I asked them why and they had some sort of explanation that they wanted the wine experience to be more personal and exclusive. But I’m not sure that it has turned out the way I wanted it to at least – when I have gone there I don’t feel like they had lots of options of wine by the glass and buying a whole bottle is normally out of the question.
Today City Brasserie & vinbar is split into three sections: the lower floor is the brasserie, the mezzanine level is the champagne lounge and wine bar and the upper floor is the restaurant. I have been there a few times and I have eaten both upstairs and downstairs but this will mainly be about my latest visit in September 2011. Nikki and I went there to have a meal at the restaurant upstairs but when we came all the lights were turned off. I asked them what was going on and the head waiter said that due to personnel being off sick they had closed the restaurant and only had the brasserie open. When I have been there before there has not been many visitors to the restaurant so I speculate that they closed it off as they didn’t have any reservations but that is just my personal opinion.
We were offered to go to the brasserie instead and the menu is quite short which is not a problem – but I would like to have seen the menu on their website but I guess that is tricky if they claim that it changes daily. They had a three course meal for 499 Norwegian Kroner (about 85 USD these days) if I’m not mistaken but as we were not that hungry we decided to go for a starter and main and that was about 450 kroner. I went for the foie gras as a starter and pork as the main meal. They did have a few options of wine by the glass but I do get a bit worried when I get to a restaurant early in the evening and they bring out a bottle of red wine where there is hardly anything left in the bottle – does that mean that it was opened yesterday or even the day before? So I got to try one wine and as it seemed to be a bit on the border of going bad, I went for the other Italian red wine alternative. My starter turned out to be not quite what I hoped for – foie gras can be excellent but I got some sort of bloc de foie gras which was more of a pate – still good but not quite the same as the real deal. It was served with shredded lemon and with a lemon sorbet type ice cream which was actually a good combination. Nikki went for a seafood risotto as a starter and it seemed like she enjoyed it and the was a good lobster taste as far as I can remember – the only problem was that it was not warm enough when it was served.
My pork main was one piece of pork belly and one piece of tenderloin I guess served with a block on potatoes and some sort of “cabbage package“ and sauce came on the side. The meat was quite good but the tenderloin was a bit on the dry side but the portion size was quite good.
All in all the service is quite good and the atmosphere is nice in this small restaurant located on the Skagen side of the Stavanger harbor. But it seems like it is quite empty on most days when I have been there and I’m not sure there everyone gets the “three sections” concept as I described earlier on. I’m a bit disappointed that a champagne and wine bar does not have more varieties by the glass on offer but it is nice to have a glass of Mumm champagne while sitting by the fire place in the lounge. So if you are looking for a place to go for a decent snack before going to e.g. the movies, City Brasserie & vinbar might be a good option – but don’t expect to be blown away by the vast variety of wine by the glass or food. You can read more about the place and book a table on their homepage http://www.citybrasserie.no/
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