Whenever I get visitors from out of town, they always ask where they should go to get real Norwegian food that isn’t too expensive. This can be a surprisingly difficult question to answer because the good local fare tends to be quite pricey, and the cheaper options are often good, but not Norwegian.
Having said all that, I always tell my friends to go to Lorry. Lorry serves traditional Norwegian food in one of the most unique environments in town (more on that in a moment). Lorry is somewhat of an Oslo institution, having been around since the 1870s. My understanding is that this restaurant served as a hangout for artists and other cultural riffraff around the turn of the century. These figures, being low on income, would often pay for their meals with works of art or other artifacts. The result is that surrounding the inviting dark wooden booths and tables is a strange assortment of sketches, paintings, and a giant bear among other stuffed animals (head to the staircase to see the giraffe!).
The food is hearty, rustic, and traditional and their beer selection exceeds 100 varieties. I almost always order a giant bowl of “blåskjell” (mussels) and a beer to wash them down. On Thursday nights they serve “fårikål” – a mutton and cabbage stew if you’re up for some more traditional fare.