Europe's first underwater restaurant is now open on Norway's wild North Atlantic coastline.
Looking for a restaurant with a difference? Two entrepreneurs and one leading design agency have just the thing for you. Welcome to Under.
Located in Lindesnes near Norway's southernmost point where the ocean storms from the north and south meet, Under is surrounded by biodiversity. All kinds of marine species flourish here, so much so that the building will serve dual-purpose as a research centre for marine life.
For diners, the experience of enjoying a meal in a restaurant five and a half metres below the surface while watching the previously unseen activity on the sea bed is sure to be a hit.
“Each guest will be given a unique opportunity to experience a submerged universe admiring marine life in ways they otherwise may never see”, says an Under spokesperson.
Chef Nicolai Ellitsgaard has spent the last year working on the dining concept. “Fresh ingredients and pure, naked flavours are of the utmost importance to us. At the same time, we want to provide a unique dining experience that ushers our guests beyond their current comfort zone”, he says.
Ellitsgaard has extensive experience from some of Scandinavia's best restaurants. He adopts the new Nordic mindset that while creativity and presentation are vital, it's quality ingredients that matter the most:
“Just on the other side of our iconic window – the ocean is bursting with fresh delicacies from the sea, so the journey from the kitchen to the plate is minimal”, he says.
Each day, up to 40 guests will enjoy one seasonal set menu that showcases the best of what is on offer from the ocean and surrounding land at that time of year. The ‘immersion menu' is available at NOK 2,250 per person, with wine and juice pairings available.
The internationally-known Norwegian design house Snøhetta were the brains behind the architecture. The company is responsible for many of Norway's most iconic buildings including Oslo Opera House, and has more than 240 employees from 32 different nations.
Half-sunken into the sea, the building’s monolithic form breaks the surface of the water to rest directly on the seabed five meters below. The structure is built to withstand pressure and shock from the wild sea conditions. The panoramic windows offer a view of the ever-changing seabed while the metre-thick walls keep diners safe.
Guests will enter via a gangplank into the oak-clad foyer. From here, a staircase with raw steel railings and brass tube handrails leads downwards into the warm, welcoming atmosphere of the intimate restaurant.
“Under is a natural progression of our experimentation with boundaries”, says Snøhetta Founder and Architect, Kjetil Trædal Thorsen. “In this building, you may find yourself under water, over the seabed, between land and sea. This will offer you new perspectives and ways of seeing the world, both beyond and beneath the waterline.”
Over time, it is intended that the structure should become a part of the delicate marine environment of the Norwegian coastline. The rough concrete shell will work as an artificial reef, encouraging limpets and kelp to inhabit it
The restaurant will welcome interdisciplinary research teams studying marine biology and fish behaviour. Cameras and other measurement tools have been installed on the outer facade of the restaurant.
Under is open now. Public bookings are available on their website.