I have visited Nero since they opened the restaurant in Stavanger and I have had some great experiences there as you can see from previous reviews and we have also had some great wine tasting there. In connection with an anniversary in March 2012 we decided to spurge and we went to Nero to have a full evening there. The Nero homepage allows you to book a table online which is a great feature To start with Nero was advertised as a fine dining restaurant with an Italian twist. Over the years it seems like they have changed their profile a bit and now it is “just” a fine dining restaurant. Anyway, when we got there we noticed that the furniture had been changed – apart from that the restaurant is like it has been “forever” – located in the basement of Victoria hotel. It is still a pretty intimate restaurant as there are not that many seats and the stone walls create a certain atmosphere.
We went for the 6 course dinner package with wine pairing as well. As usual the menu consisted of a lot of seafood to start with and Nikki was a bit concerned that it would be too much white wine so she asked if she could get it replaced with a red wine that would be suitable. The answer we got was that they only had two red wines by the glass which I think sounds a bit strange – I thought a nice place like Nero would be able to offer more. But it was even stranger when Nikki asked if she could get a replacement for the cheese course as she is a bit lactose intolerant and she tries to avoid cow cheese – the answer we got was a simple “No”.
We first got a small snack with compliments from the kitchen…a smoked halibut with corn inspiration. The first dish of the menu was Norwegian scallops with something called abalon, pear and a pumpkin puree. Scallops seems to be a safe bet on fine dining restaurants and this was also good and I enjoyed the pairing together with pear and the pumpkin puree. The next dish out was wild arctic char which is a fish in the salmon category I guess. It was served with jerusalem artichokes in various version…fried, puree etc. The char is a good fish and I enjoyed it and I also have a thing for jerusalem artichokes so this as a good dish.
As we started out quite early (at about 7.30) the restaurants was far from crowded – we felt that they used the opportunity to rush our dishes to prepare for people coming later on. So we eventually had to ask them to slow down a bit to let us have a bit of a break as we were not able to finish the wine before the next dish was served.
We went to Café de France recently (read about it here) and we got a big chunk of great foie gras. Foie gras was also on the menu at Nero and the piece was served with parsnip and some fried porcini gnocchi. The foie gras was not as great as at Café de France – it seemed a bit on the dry side and the gnocchi seemed to just be some fried dumplings with no particular taste. And I’m not sure I was convinced about the wine that was served with it.
The main dish this evening was elk that was cooked on low temperature for a long time and served with a sweet potato puree. The main dish at a fine dining restaurant is normally not a huge thing but the Nero portion must be one of the tiniest portions that I have ever seen. And I’m not sure that I felt the effect of the long frying on low temperature – the meat was not very tender.So all in all this dish was a bit of a disappointment for me at least.
The cheese dish was a Reblochon cheese served with some “sweets”, buckwheat and an onion in a potato wrap – and I had this dish alone as they could not come up with an alternative for Nikki. And to wrap it all up – a passion fruit sorbet, a passion fruit cream of some sort served in a filo dough. Again we were not totally convinced but as I’m a sucker for sweet stuff I did eat most of it and I enjoyed the sauternes that was served to go along with it.
As I said to start with, I have had some great experiences at Nero but this time I was not totally convinced. Don’t get me wrong – the food was very good and Nero is still a good restaurant but there are things that could have been better. We were served by several waiters and some could only communicate in English which is not a big problem but it can be tricky with some of the various ingredients that you don’t come across every day. We also felt that we were rushed as the first few dishes was served so fast that we were not able to finish of the wine – and our waiters seemed a bit insecure at times when describing what they were serving. I’m also a bit surprised over the blunt “No” we got when we asked for a replacement when Nikki asked if she could get something else as she could not eat the cheese dish and that they only had two red wine options when Nikki wanted to replace some of the white wine with red. With strong competition like Renaa Restauranten, NB Sørensen 2. Etage and Café de France, Nero has to be careful to not let their guard down too much – the restaurant once got 6 out of 6 in all categories in a newspaper reviews a few years back but that was not the experience we had on this visit. I hope that Nero is not resting on past glory – it can be a dangerous move.
You can find more information about Nero on http://www.restaurant-nero.no/ - and to give you an idea about the prices: 3 course is 525 NOK (90 USD) and 6 courses is 695 NOK (120 USD) – and the wine pairing also cost 695 Kroner for the 6 course meal.
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