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"You are American? Yesterday, Martin Sheen was here."

The waiter placed our drinks on the table and looked up to gauge our reaction to the name drop. Despite the non sequitur , neither of us flinched.

"Martin Sheen. You know... the American actor. West Wing."

I'm not really one for name dropping. (Hard to believe, right, since I blogged meeting my favorite author, Pam Houston , for the very first time at AWP in Boston!) But it wasn't fair to make the nice man squirm like that.

So I said, "Sure. Martin Sheen. I loved him in Gettysburg." And Jonathan said something slightly snarky like, "Not quite as exciting as Charlie Sheen." Which made me laugh, but the waiter was on a mission.

"Martin Sheen. The nicest man! Handshakes for the whole staff."

Addendum: "Actor/activist Martin Sheen and I flew to Oslo, Norway to speak at the civic forum before the conference, sponsored by The International Campaign for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons ... before an excited crowd of 900 people in downtown Oslo." via Huffington Post

This happened on our second visit to the legendary Engebret Cafe, located just to the east of Akershus Fortress . It is Oslo's oldest restaurant, opened in 1857, and, as proved by Mr. Sheen, it attracts luminaries from around the world. Without reservations, I worried we were being optimistic about showing up on the cafe's doorstep, even late on a Tuesday evening. But while the restaurant was full, the bar was empty.


Photo via VisitOslo.com

A darkly elegant room with forest green walls and a high ceiling, the bar is in the older part of the cafe, a section built in the 1700s. Red curtains hung at the windows. The elegant, swoop-backed Victorian furnishings were arranged in intimate clusters. Tea candles flickered in votives and miniature lanterns around the room. The soft, romantic light played against our rosy cheeks while the cold remained behind glass, beyond the walls, icy and heavy and still, at bay. Inside, we were warm with romance. On the low, dark wood table between us was a clear vase holding, loosely, a single white tulip.

How different from our first visit.

At the end of our vacation to Norway in May of 2010, we'd spent a long, hot day touring the fortress and hunting down a couple of geocaches. The Engebret Cafe had caught our interest in the guidebook, so we walked over in the afternoon. We sat outside on the patio to enjoy the sunshine. Jonathan ordered reindeer carpaccio (and hummed Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer as he ate). I don't remember my entree, but for dessert, I selected a Napoleon pastry and cleaned my plate!


I rarely blog about food, but I had to make an exception in this case. If you're looking for someplace special to dine on your trip to Oslo, I recommend Engebret Cafe. Patio seating should open again in April. You'll want a reservation for the dining room. Don't forget to visit the website for more details!

WARNING: The Engebret Cafe Dessert Menu may well elicit a Pavlovian response. Pictured at the top are the semulepudding med marinerte kirsebær (Semule pudding with marinated cherries) and fløtepudding med friske bærog bringebærsorbet (Creme Brûlée with fresh berries and raspberry sorbet).