nOi - good food but a few distractions
We have been to Charles & De a few times over the years and we have enjoyed it. In the last few years chef Charles Tjessem has sold his shares and left the restaurant and in the beginning of 2018 the places re-opened as nOi. We decided to check it out on a Saturday night in March 2018 and booked a table online. The places still seem to be popular as it was pretty much full when we got there. One of the major changes that is visible in the interior of the restaurant is the new pizza oven.
We got the menu fast and it is a limited menu, but it includes the basics such as pasta, risotto and pizza. We decided to have bruschetta and crostini to start with and pasta/risotto as our main meals. The wine menu is pretty good but when I asked to get some more information about one of the wines the waitress admitted that she had no knowledge about the wine. But she said that she could get the sommelier to come to our table if he had time. I found this statement a bit strange, but I guess the sommelier was also the bartender. When the same waitress brought the wine bottle she announced that she had found out more about the wine and it was made with Nebbiolo grapes in the heart of Tuscany. That didn’t sound quite right and later on when we looked at the bottle there were no traces of Nebbiolo grapes in the wines. But let's get back to the food!
The bruschetta was a bread with a generous portion of buffalo mozzarella (maybe even burrata) with a mix of tomatoes and basil. The bread could have been toasted a bit more as it got a bit soggy and some of the tomatoes were a bit tasteless – but that is a general problem with tomatoes in Norway. The crostini were good, and the favorite was probably the grilled pepper crostini and the red wine beef cheeks crostini.
The main dish was served after a short break and the same beef cheeks that I had on the crostini, was served on top of pappardelle pasta. Again, the beef cheeks had a wonderful taste and it was great the citrus flavors from the gremolata topping. I love my risotto, so I had to taste the nOi risotto of course. It was served fairly plain with just some lemon, tomatoes and parmesan. I’m not sure I would have served it on a big plate like this, but the risotto was very good even if it was a bit simple. To me that few cherry tomatoes that was in the risotto was just a distraction that didn’t fit in at all.
To round it of I had the tiramisu. I enjoy this dessert and I have had it many times in Italy and around the world. The mascarpone cream was just right and had a great taste but for some reason the savoiardi biscuits (lady fingers) were dry and hard. Usually when you make tiramisu, the savoiardi biscuits is dipped in the espresso mix so that they become soft in the tiramisu.
All in all: the food at nOi was not bad at all and there were other items on the menu that I would love to taste. There were some elements that was distracting (like tomatoes in the risotto and the hard biscuits in the tiramisu) but maybe this is just my preference. It is also a bit of a shame that the sommelier didn’t have time to help with the wine option when they actually had a pretty good wine list.