Bellies - the only vegan restaurant in Stavanger
Bellies opened just a week ago – a great new addition to Stavanger by the same guy behind café Resept in Østervåg a few years back, Øystein Lunde Ohna. Bellies is a vegan (plant based) restaurant and if I’m not mistaken, it is the only vegan restaurant in Stavanger. This part of town used to have a lot of industry and this building was a canning factory. They have managed to keep some of the old elements of the factory, combined with a modern interior, featuring some pickling jars and local art and an open kitchen – that is dominated by a huge pizza oven.
The menu is not extensive but includes mezze (classics and seasonal), Jamaican stew and pizza. We decided to have the tasting menu called Full Bellies which included a bit of everything. There is also some wine on the menu and some beer on tap. The wine prices are not that bad (compared to some other restaurants). If you haven’t dared to before, try the orange wine – it’s a mild intro to the revived world of orange wine. It’s bit surprising that the wine list didn’t feature more organic wines.
It did not take long before we got the starter – the classic mezze. We got fresh pita bread straight from the pizza oven and the mezze consisted of hummus, baba ganoush (roasted eggplant mash) and tabbouleh (fresh herb and bulgur salad). The hummus and baba ganoush were both excellent and was a perfect accompaniment to the warm pita. Admittedly we may be victims of own travel experiences so the tabbouleh was not a favorite for us. – it seemed to have more bulgur and less herbs than we are used to.
We continued with the seasonal mezze - Romanesco broccoli, stuffed vine leaf rolls, squash with kimchi and carrots. The rolls were delicious and exotic with flavors of apricot and mint and a stark tartness that was difficult to identify; the baked carrots (fermented, if I’m not mistaken) were great; and the squash with kimchi was also an explosion of flavors. Of the four, the Romanesco broccoli was a bit plain in comparison.
Next up was a bowl of Jamaican stew – apparently this was a dish that was popular at Resept and they have brought it along as a tribute. And it was a good dish indeed – sweet potato and eggplant stew with spices that reminded me of Indian dishes served on rice. But there was more to come – Bellies also have pizza on the menu, and we got a white pizza with shredded vegetables in a bundle in the middle. As this was a sharing menu, one was assigned to untie the Gordian Knot and to spread the vegetables evenly. The pizza was excellent, and it was also a bit spicy as it contained Midsummer hot sauce (made in the neighborhood). To round off the meal, we got a piece of pecan pie each served with a whipped “cream” made from coconut cream.
Conclusion: first of all, none of us in the group that night are vegan and we all enjoy both meat and fish. But I do have an open mind and enjoy food (vegan or not), as long as it tastes good and leaves a lasting culinary impression. Nikki is also lactose intolerant so it was quite refreshing not to have to mention food “allergies”. This was a solid and very satisfying restaurant experience. We shall definitely return to try some of the other dishes on the menu and will keep an eye out for seasonal dishes - especially if the other pickled goodies in jars get served too (the kimchi was splendid).
I especially enjoyed the starter mezze, Jamaican stew and the pizza (I’m a bread lover so fresh, warm bread is always something that I enjoy). On this day, I had done a pretty hard workout and for me it would have been good with larger portions but on a regular day, I think this would have been sufficient. I hope that Bellies will make it in the restaurant market in Stavanger. There is more focus on vegan and vegetarian options these days and Bellies is a fantastic addition to the Stavanger restaurant scene – great vibe, passionate owners / chefs, and good food. So a little encouragement to the average Joe, you’ll be missing out on a great new experience if you let labels aka vegan / plant based (or the current construction site) get in your way!
Location: Støperigata 6 - see this Google map.
Price of food: 540 kroner (59 USD) for Full Bellies for 1 person.