We find ourselves in the heart of old Trondheim – in Bispegata – a stone’s throw away from Nidaros Cathedral. The starting point for creating a unique dining place is the very best. It’s located in an old episcopal residence from 1853. The space has high ceilings, and the new owners have put in considerable effort and hours of work to bring out the glimpses of the house’s historical patina. Large windows with ample natural light highlight the massive, beautiful wooden doors, and details such as stuccos in the ceiling, old wooden floors, and panels from the 1800s.

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At the helm of this new establishment, we find Anna Tautra Sandøy, who has been brought in as the operational manager of Bifrons. Anna is a restaurant and wine enthusiast with experience from places like Credo. She has worked as a cocktail bartender in London and banqueting manager at a hotel in Oslo.

Now, she has landed with the team behind successful restaurants like Troll, the dining and concert venue Kafe Skuret, and Gubalari. Her job is to ensure that Bifrons finds its rightful place in Trondheim’s ever-vibrant food scene.

Guest experience:

– I have gradually developed a keen interest in working with the entire guest experience. Here at Bifrons, I do everything from ensuring that the staff receives proper training to engaging in selecting the wines we serve. I focus on all the small details that create the experience and make the guests satisfied. Not least, we have put in a lot of effort to create pleasant acoustics in the premises,» she explains.

In the kitchen, Bjørn Tore Larsen, formerly the head chef at Troll, has taken on the role as chef. Overseeing it all is a prominent figure in the city’s restaurant world, Lars Laurentius Paulsen. Known for his colorful suits, well-groomed beard, and rebellious and anarchistic approach to Norwegian ingredients and food traditions.

– We were in the running to take over this location five years ago when the previous owner took over and continued to operate the place as «Ni muser.» I have had a connection to this place for a long time. I used to have lunch here once a week on the day I had evening classes at culinary school,» he reminisces.

– The charm is that this is not a typical Trondheim establishment. It is venerable and continental. Therefore, we are trying to restore some details to the era when it was built. We have brought back the original flooring and paneling. We like to showcase some of its history, including the scars and signs of time. We believe it gives a warmer and more honest expression than the rather gray and gloomy space it used to be. And we are not done yet,» Laurentius explains.

Image with visual paralax effect

– But the name «Bifrons» requires an explanation.

– Peder Olivarius Bugge! He was an interesting fellow, you know. The bishop who said one thing from the pulpit and something completely different as a politician. He was not particularly fond of the Danish king either, and he didn’t hesitate to criticize him. So, we are in an old episcopal residence. Bugge designed the building, but he didn’t live long enough to move in himself. As a bishop in Nidaros Cathedral and a politician, he had strong opinions that often contradicted each other. This made him a controversial figure, hence the nickname «Bifrons»: The demon with two faces. The story goes that Bugge’s portrait in the Cathedral had to be moved to the Archbishop’s Residence because someone kept poking out his eyes all the time. And after a sermon where he admonished the people to submit to God and the king, all the windows in the Archbishop’s Residence were smashed with stones. So, he sold some of the church’s estates to replace the windows. A resourceful guy! The evil version of Janus, if you will,» Lars Laurentius chuckles.

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– But what about the food? What is the ambition in the kitchen?

– We celebrate Norwegian cuisine and Norwegian ingredients. Perhaps we are a slightly more conservative version of Troll? But a restaurant is always evolving, though the basic idea is to praise Norwegian food and ingredients and follow the seasons. For example, lamb. In my opinion, it is the best product Norway has ever produced. You have a pure, fantastic piece of Norway on your plate,» Laurentius enthuses, adding that the restaurant, like the demon Bifrons, has two «faces»: One outside and one inside.

– We have a beautiful garden that has become an oasis. Here, we serve simple dishes and good drinks in a relaxed atmosphere. Indoors, we elevate the experience and offer three and five-course meals without any fixed menu. The menu is created based on the season and what we have managed to source as the best ingredients for that day. We also offer a daily dish priced at under 200 kroner,» he explains.

Art in the premises:

The fact that Trondheim Kunstforening (Trondheim Art Society) owns the premises is evident as the restaurant is used as an art gallery:

– Food and art go hand in hand. They are two sides of the same coin. The art society uses two of the rooms, and the rest we use for ourselves. Our collaboration with K.U.K (Gubalari) allows for exciting art to adorn the walls here in the future. We are also working on incorporating sculptures in the garden,» Lars explains.

– It wouldn’t be completely wrong to assume that it will be a spectacular display signed by Kjell Erik Killi-Olsen, would it? After all, you both hit it off during the collaboration with Gubalari, where he truly left his mark on the restaurant,» they inquire.

– Perhaps, but it’s too early to say. We are working on it,» Laurentius concludes.

Now, on to the five-course meal:

Trondheim24 tested the five-course meal in the middle of the week. First, the house’s heavenly and super-moist sourdough bread arrived on the table, along with a light ramson butter. The first serving turned out to be the absolute highlight of the evening: crab soup made from langoustine broth, followed by an inviting plate of salted meat with cured ham from Meråker and fenalår from Kvikne, served with melon and wild plant pesto. The «Lysing,» an incredibly ugly and rarely used chalk-white fish in the cod family, was perfectly prepared, as expected, and accompanied by a tasty parsnip puree. The main course featured organic duck breast from the award-winning family-owned Holte Farm. The evening concluded with rhubarb cake and whipped Røros sour cream.

In summary: Generous amounts of excellent food in an extraordinary environment at a very reasonable price: The total cost was 2534 NOK for two delightful drinks in the garden, five courses per person with a large wine package for each.

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