Under ‘Under’, an Underwater Restaurant in Lindesnes, Norway
“semi-submerged beneath the icy waters of the North Atlantic in Lindesnes, guests are invited to dine five and a half meters below the surface – the panoramic view of the ocean floor providing the dramatic backdrop.” – Under
Lindesnes is a municipality, within a county, within a district, on the southern coast of Norway. It faces inwards, towards mainland Europe and Great Britain. The name comes from an Old Norse word meaning the end to perfectly illustrate its location on the most southerly tip of the Scandinavian Peninsula. For sure, Vikings would have inhabited the area in times gone by. In English, this translates to Ness or Naze which describes a series of headlands, or geographical formations jutting out further than the rest of feature. Looking closer, there is nothing truly remarkable about Lindesnes. The geography is spectacular of course but not uncommon in the lands on Scandinavia. The most notable facts would perhaps be that the Noble Peace Prize was designed by a sculptor – Gustav Vigeland – who was once a resident of said municipality. Or maybe, Lindesnes Lighthouse which is the oldest in Norway.
Now a new attraction has opened up, and while at first glance it does not seem so noteworthy, looking closer shows a very thought-provoking concept and design. Eyes will turn to the Norwegian coast predominantly of terms of cuisine but also for architecture and an innovative tourism concept. It is a restaurant constructed under the surface of the ocean with the intention of underwater views. Yet much more than that it looks to integrate and conserve the environment around it. In the current climate, this is especially important.
Under is laying claim to being the world’s largest underwater restaurant and the first in Europe. While most similar standing restaurants will have an aquarium within, Under looks out into the actual ocean. The nearest large town is slightly over an hour’s drive away in Kristiansand.
The Chthonic Cuisine
“Fresh ingredients and pure, naked flavors are of utmost importance to us. At the same time, we want to provide a unique dining experience that ushers our guests beyond their comfort zone.”
– Head Chef Nicolai Ellitsgaard
Ellitsgaard utilises local wildlife for the restaurant’s dishes and not just those who dwell underwater. It will mostly include creatures from the ocean but also mammals from the surrounding landscapes inland. At the moment there is but one set menu with the aim of maximising every visitor’s experience. Needless to say, it is not a budget menu due to its location and standards. A typical meal is around 250 Euros with Juice for an extra 80 and Wine for an extra 160. Again, it is not a cheap bottle of wine. They have a head sommelier who carefully selects the wine, based on complementing the servings. Under, can hold a capacity of 100 but usually, 40 people will dine there at a time.
“We are so fortunate! Not only is the sea filled with a vast amount of delicious fish and countless types of shells, but the beaches here also offer plenty of exciting ingredients such as sea arrow grass, sea rocket and salty sea kale. Furthermore, the local area is known for its bountiful varieties of wild mushrooms and succulent berries…”
This will include local sheep and seabirds that graze nearby.
The Eclectic Experience
“Under aims to provide a journey into the unknown. By welcoming guests to immerse themselves in the Norwegian marine ecosystem, Under provides a new niche for underwater tourism. Each guest will be given a unique opportunity to experience a submerged universe, exploring marine life in ways they otherwise may never see.”
Under takes you 5 meters below sea level. Large windows in the dining area mean that no scuba suits or submersibles are required to experience a plethora of organisms interacting underwater. As mentioned, Under is as much a restaurant as a concept, striving to operate as a marine research facility, as well as an ambitious architecture project also. There are imperative when trying to co-exist with the ocean. For instance, the concrete shell of the structure is strong enough and shock-absorbent enough to act as a barrier reef, which will last lifetimes to come and provide a habitat for creatures like limpets. An award-winning architectural company called Snohetta designed the work-of-art. They have made every structure except the shell biodegradable so that the building immediately fuses with the ocean, and does not harm the environment if and when abandoned in the future.
“Normal fish species in this area is pollack and cod, colourful wrasses, urchins, crabs, lobsters in gladiator battles, spiny dogfish (i.e. mini sharks) and distinctive seaweed and kelp in the changing seasons.”
The odd seal has also been spotted but this can be detrimental to the viewers as it wards off many smaller organisms. Over time the restaurant is looking to create even more of a show outside the vista. This will be achieved by implementing lights at systematic intervals to attract prey and therefore predators.
The Conscious Concept
Under is an incredible feat of engineering not only in terms of a tourist attraction but for its responsible way of thinking in terms of eco-friendly architecture and local produce. Many restaurants of the past and even today only care about profit margins and not their global footprint. This can be down to the materials and ingredients they use, which are harmful to the environment and even to its consumers. With Under using only products from the surrounding area and with a bio-degradable structure to sell them it is doing little harm to the wider world around it. For those lucky enough to afford a meal in Under they are sure to enjoy a unique experience and can feel no guilt in enjoying it. For the team behind Under they deserve a lot of credit for thinking of the world around them and not only about the money they can potentially make.
For bookings click here.
Enjoyed this article? Also, check out “Dinner in the Sky: The Thrill of Partying in a Crane Lift“
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