If you’ve been eagerly awaiting the opening of Under in Lindesnes, Norway, you will need to endure for a little longer. Bookings are open until October, but you’ll be on a waiting list. Even considering its remote location on this storm-battered southernmost point of the Norwegian coastline, Europe’s first underwater restaurant is ultimately worth a visit. Under is the culmination of a dream by owners and brothers, Stig and Gaute Ubostad. Designed and created by Norwegian architectural firm Snøhetta, this distinctive project is more than just a restaurant. Envisaged as integration of gastronomy, architecture and marine research, the 34-metre partially-submerged concrete structure emerges from the icy fjord like a giant’s periscope discarded carelessly at the water’s edge. In time the exterior will blend more seamlessly with its surroundings as limpets and kelp begin to grow on its surface, forming an artificial reef.
Under’s location up close with nature makes it unique in many ways, standing apart from the usual underwater restaurants in warm tropical aquariums. Weather conditions around Lindesnes are known to be intense, shifting from calm to storm and back again without warning. This immense shell with its half meter-thick concrete walls is built to withstand nature’s most extreme forces. Once inside, visitors feel safely enveloped by the warm ambience featuring oak panelling, textiles, handcrafted fixtures and artwork by local collaborators.
The focal point of Under’s dining space is a vast panoramic acrylic window, bringing guests eye to eye with life on the seabed. The underwater vista of swaying kelp forests is surprisingly serene considering the wild crashing waves just five metres above at the surface.
Michelin starred chef Nicolai Ellitsgaard has drawn together a world-class team to present his 18-course tasting menu, inspired by Under’s unique setting. Each item on the Immersion menu is a work of art crafted with locally foraged ingredients such as wild mushrooms and luscious berries paired with seafood sustainably harvested from Lindesnes’s rich biodiversity. Chef Ellitsgaard’s culinary compositions will vary with the seasons, allowing him to experiment with many varieties of fish, shells, and other beach-grown ingredients such as sea arrow grass, sea rocket and salty sea kale.
Continuing the trend of open kitchens, guests dining at Under are invited to watch as each course is precisely assembled. Beverage pairings – both alcoholic and juice-based – can be ordered to complement the wild, naked flavours carefully selected to take diners beyond their gastronomic comfort zones.