Dining Out 5 minutes 06 June 2024

RE-NAA: Norway’s New Three Michelin Star Restaurant

Find out why the Michelin Inspectors awarded a third Star to this outstanding Stavanger restaurant

It takes some doing to be awarded Three Michelin Stars. Just ask Sven Erik Renaa. The experienced chef has been working in the restaurant industry for a long time and now, after all the years of hard work, has reaped the rewards by having received Michelin’s highest honour. While many top chefs begin to take a back seat as their restaurants run like well-oiled machines, Sven Erik continues to be as hands-on as possible. He doesn’t just stand at the pass checking dishes as they go out, but is actively involved in the cooking process. Here, a Michelin Inspector describes their magnificent meal at RE-NAA.


RE-NAA is located in Stavanger, Norway, and is one of the country’s finest ever restaurants. Upon receiving his third Star, Sven Erik proudly noted that RE-NAA was the first Norwegian restaurant outside of Oslo to be awarded One Michelin Star, then the first to be awarded Two Michelin Stars and now… well you know what comes next! The restaurant is located inside the strikingly designed Eilert Smith Hotel, which dates back to the 1930s and is named after its architect. Once inside, as our Inspector explains, RE-NAA is far from your typical hotel restaurant.

re-naa room 1.jpg

“As soon as my fellow Michelin Inspector and I entered the Eilert Smith Hotel, we had no trouble finding RE-NAA. It wasn’t tucked away like many restaurants in hotels, but was almost open-plan, with the line between dining room and hotel being blurred. The team welcomed us at the cocktail bar you see immediately after you enter, then showed us to our table.

“The space itself was sleek and stylish but what was most notable was just how open the kitchen was here. Like the hotel and the restaurant, it was hard to tell where the dining room ended and the kitchen began, with no counter seating to divide diners from chefs. This gave the subsequent meal a certain buzz and an immersive feel.”

The Team

While the restaurant may be named after Sven Erik Renaa, he’s not the only key to its success. His hugely talented chefs deliver many of the dishes themselves, while the front of house team is integral to the overall dining experience. Led by Restaurant Manager and Head of Wine & Beverages Kristoffer Aga, they ensure that each diner has as smooth and relaxing an experience as possible. According to our Michelin Inspector, the style of the service was expertly pitched.

“As with all the best restaurant service, the team at RE-NAA showed a perfect balance of personality and professionalism. Kristoffer and his colleagues were thoroughly slick and efficient, leaving no detail unnoticed, but provided real warmth and engaged with their diners too. Service of this quality, which was attentive but not precious, aided my enjoyment of the meal enormously.”

The Cooking

It’s hard to define exactly what makes a Three Star restaurant. What works for one operation might not work for another, and multiple styles of cuisine can all ascend to the Three Star level. In RE-NAA’s case, for our Inspector, the key to its success is balance.

“A brilliant dish can have 3 ingredients or 13 ingredients, but the unifying principle is that it will showcase a perfect harmony in both its flavours and textures. Knowing exactly what element to pair with another was the underlying key to the brilliance of my meal at RE-NAA. Sven Erik and the team have such a great understanding of their raw materials, knowing which ingredients will complement and contrast each other in just the right quantities.

“Key to this was a level of restraint, an ability to hold back on stronger flavours lest they overwhelm a dish, which is reflective of Sven Erik’s experience and maturity as a chef. Acidity was regularly used as a part of the balancing act – as it often is in Nordic cuisine – and other recurring themes were the use of outstanding Norwegian produce, masterful technical skill and some subtle Japanese influences.”

Lamb tartare with ponzu and elderberries
Lamb tartare with ponzu and elderberries

The Dishes Tasted

The Inspectors’ superb meal unfolded over 10 courses, with this tasting menu the only option for diners. The first two servings together comprised 10 small bites, ensuring the Inspectors could sample the full range of the kitchen’s talents. After these canapés, four seafood dishes followed, including a superb scallop from Sandnessjoen paired with expertly judged amounts of sweet, smoky paprika and acidic sea buckthorn.

The seafood courses were followed by two meat dishes: grilled suckling lamb with morels, peas and ramson; and dry-aged duck from Holte Farm with mole and endive, accompanied by a milk bun to soak up the superlative sauce. Both dishes demonstrated the restraint and balance our Inspectors found so impressive throughout their meal at RE-NAA. To finish were two desserts, the first one – citrus, nyr and timut pepper – was delicate and refreshing to cleanse the palate after the rich duck, and the second – koji, fennel and pine cone – was much sweeter, also providing a lovely creaminess to finish off the meal.

Among all of the wonderful creations tasted at RE-NAA, here are some that really stood out.

Crab tartlet with ginger and yuzu
Crab tartlet with ginger and yuzu

“The first food of the evening arrived with our aperitifs. All the canapés involved some sort of casing packed with a delicious filling. A crisp potato-flour taco shell contained smoked herring cream, roe and lightly pickled red onion, then was garnished with tiny herbs and flowers. It was a masterclass in how to balance contrasting flavours and textures, which set out the stall for the meal as a whole. Another of the snacks was a cigar-like construction filled with lamb tartare, presented on a bed of pine needles and seasoned with ponzu and elderberries.

“Two very delicate tartlets were both made using forms of dashi. One contained sweet crabmeat mixed with trout roe, ginger, yuzu and prawn heads, the latter showing some commitment to low-waste cooking. The other was fashioned using a turnip dashi, filled with tarragon cream and more turnip – and attractively adorned with ultra-fine strands of kale. Finally, I was impressed by the originality and cleverness of a little meringue filled with chicken liver and pine, accompanied by a thin disk of dark chocolate.

“Following these canapés were five more small bites, each one a type of raw seafood: sea urchin, oyster, carpet clam, mussel and mahogany clam.”

Chu-toro Tuna, Whitecurrant, Nasturtium
“This dish was probably the most overt example of a Japanese influence on Sven Erik’s cooking. Such things are commonplace in top European restaurants these days but at RE-NAA, as with everything else, they are incorporated with careful, restrained judgement. This dish was built around the extreme quality of the tuna itself, which was fatty and tender. A clear liquor made using pickled whitecurrants provided the necessary acidity to cut through the richness, while a gentle touch of wasabi added a lovely warmth.”

Turnip tartlet with tarragon and kale
Turnip tartlet with tarragon and kale

Squid, Black Garlic Cream, Grilled Lemon
“This dish was a beautiful example of how to enhance rather than overpower the natural flavours of top-notch produce. A combination of black garlic and grilled lemon was delicious, but there was also room for the squid itself to shine. Precisely cut, cooked and arranged, it was poached in beurre noisette and had a firm but tender texture that really added to the dish. Very fine fried breadcrumbs added another layer to the textures, showing once again the chefs’ strong understanding of their ingredients.”

Arctic Cod, Caviar, Vin Jaune
“Yet another dish anchored by exceptional Norwegian produce. The cod was immaculate, expertly cooked sous vide to maintain its natural texture and succulence. The addition of caviar brought a touch of luxury but was no gimmick; along with a vin jaune sauce, it helped to make the dish as a whole really soar. What I loved the most though, was just a dribble of anchovy butter that elevated the flavours even further, without overwhelming the cod with its saltiness.”


“By now you know how impressive the cooking is at RE-NAA. But it’s worth reiterating how magical my entire experience here was. The service team deserve great plaudits for running the whole evening with such charm and skill, while the fully open kitchen added something a little different to proceedings. Sven Erik himself has crafted a tasting menu that is built on enormous skill, but never shows off, and the number of courses was pitched just right; nothing about the experience was ever overwhelming. It was simply a quite wonderful evening.”

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