Behind a heavy gold and black carved door on Hardware Street in the CBD you’ll find a host wearing a coarse cotton smock, a leather apron and a dagger at his hip. The dragon-headed prow of a Viking longship bursts forth from the wall, and beside it a three-metre-long chain curtain emblazoned with a giant one-eyed Odin, the mythological Norse king.
Mjølner is a protein-forward casual fine diner. Its “theme” is a place on Earth Thor (of Avengers fame) has created to combat his homesickness for Valhalla.
The venue’s actually by Sven Almenning (Eau de Vie, Boilermaker House), who is Norwegian and grew up surrounded by Norse mythology. But his restaurant isn’t trying to recreate a 1000-year-old Viking menu. It’s more: what would Vikings eat today?
Mjølner – which also has a Sydney outpost – has a menu that includes ribs braised for more than 12 hours and caramelised brussels sprouts and sticky pan juices. The rib currently occupies the “Beast” position on a menu also serving “Bird”, “Fish” and “Veg”, some of which may be cooked whole in the kitchen’s giant rotisserie oven. There’s also a larger cut of whole beast (sometimes roast porchetta), which is carved to order.
Venison is cured then dried off before it’s seared in a hot pan and rolled in ash. Pillowy, salt-baked Jerusalem artichokes are mounded with sauerkraut and rounded out by slightly smoky whisky butter and the crunch of crisp buckwheat. For dessert, try a delicate bombe Alaska, where tiny flowers of meringue hide mandarin sorbet. Naturally, that one’s also set on fire, right in front of you.
Viking iconography is carved into shields, drinking horns, axes and even ornate handmade knives – a selection of which diners are invited to choose from as their weapon of choice at the beginning of their meal.
The venue is split into two levels; the main dining room on the ground floor and a cocktail bar in the basement, and the drinks are a big focus. Dinner begins with a complimentary Stone Skål – an amber shot of stone-boiled vermouth, mead and honey.
Savoury cocktails are a strength. Erik the Red – the house Bloody Mary – includes port, pickled onions, red seaweed and beetroot. It's garnished with a ramekin of salty-sweet potato crisps and pickled chilli. For something sweeter, the Northern Lights uses, gin, iced riesling, sorrel and elderflower.