Just a few steps from Hackney Central station is Oslo, the Nordic restaurant, bar, live music venue and club that's famous around East London for its relaxed, fun-loving day times and its party atmosphere come the night. Hearing good things about their Nordic menu, I hopped on the Overground to see if all this is worth the trip.
Venue and Atmosphere
When I say it's a few steps from the station, I mean it: the towering venue sits directly outside, meaning it's impossible to miss. Once there, you're greeted by a large outdoor seating area, which leads you into an industrial venue created from exposed brickwork and beautiful window arches. The venue takes influence from its heritage, being a redeveloped railway station, and the old archways illuminate the bar beautifully. The aesthetic has a Nordic edge, with draped chandeliers suspended from the double-height ceilings and rustic flourishes like wooden panelling. As well as being a great spot for eating and drinking, this is also a live music hub, with a late license that lets revellers stay out until the not-so-wee hours.
Food & Drink
Oslo has a fun drinks menu that would put many a cocktail bar to shame, featuring a superb collection of classics with a Nordic twist. The Salted Caramel Martini was a smooth and indulgent version of the classic Espresso Martini (my favourite) and I chose that to start my evening. It would have worked well as a digestif in place of a dessert, thanks to the rich sweetness added by the caramel, but it was also a winner to get the evening started. My pal meanwhile chose a delicate Icelandic Martini, served in a beautiful, vintage glass and made with Miller’s gin, pink grapefruit liqueur and a beautifully fresh and light homemade camomile syrup, which added a subtle sharpness.
To start, we shared a bowl of baby calamari (£7) served with sweet chilli sauce, lemon and watercress. Without a trace of grease or oil, these calamari were wonderfully light, gloriously crispy, and a generous squeeze of lemon meant they had an enjoyable sharpness to balance the sweetness of the chilli sauce.
But the main event at Oslo are the burgers, with a superb selection of succulent meats piled high with bacon, sauces, cheese - basically everything that makes the mouth water. My friend opted for The Oslo Burger (£12), loaded with smoked streaky bacon and gooey American cheese, with lashings of Oslo special sauce. The dry-aged beef was anything but, with every bite as juicy as the last. This was accompanied by sweet potato fries that were crispy and lightly salted, helping to balance out the hearty meatiness.
I chose the 8oz Rib Eye (£16.50) for my main, cooked rare and served with roasted cherry tomatoes, watercress, peppercorn sauce and a generous portion of proper home-cooked chips - crispy on the outside but fluffy inside, with their skins still on so that they're golden; just how my mum makes them. The Rib Eye was proof that these guys know how to handle their meat, as it was cooked perfectly rare and just as succulent as the burgers. If you're after a protein-heavy meal, Oslo should probably be your restaurant bar of choice.
Oslo can see you through from after work drinks to supper, before transforming into a dance destination for the party people of East London. With a cracking cocktail list, a meaty menu with a Nordic twist and regular gigs (not to mention the minimal effort to get there from the station) Oslo ticks every box for a great evening out.