A diver cleans the glass of the first underwater restaurant in Europe, 400 km south of Oslo, on May 2, 2019.

Dinner Underwater but Dry in the First Underwater Restaurant in Europe

Lifestyle

In Norway, Under has been proposing for the last few weeks to dine under water at five meters depth … staying dry. Immersion.

“We have this little window near the kitchen. Whenever a special fish passes, I stop and wonder what taste it can have.

Architectural curiosity planted in Lindesnes, in the extreme south of Norway , Under has been proposing for some weeks to dine under water while remaining dry . Here, you can savor the food provided by Poseidon as well as a unique view at five meters depth.

Once past the entrance of an oblique concrete gutter on the North Sea shore, a long oak staircase plunges into a dining room rendered almost derisory by the huge window that serves as a pediment.

Behind this giant screen of more than 36 m 2 “like a periscope immersed”, according to the expression of its designers, the ever-changing spectacle of aquatic life.

“Under in Norwegian means” under “in the submerged and submarine sense and it also means something like” wonder “, says Stig Ubostad, co-owner with his brother of the underwater restaurant.

“This is without a doubt the biggest in the world and the only one in Europe.”

“The aquarium is us”

No clownfish or sharks as in more or less similar – and more tropical – settlements in the Maldives or Dubai. But a simple and spectacular kelp forest that sees, according to the seasons, cod, places and wrasses and their occasional predators, seal or duck eider.

“It’s an area at the southern tip where the brackish waters coming from the east meet the salt waters of the Atlantic, so the variety of species is very rich here,” says Trond Rafoss, a marine biologist involved in the project.

Cooks prepare food at Europe's first underwater restaurant, 400 km south of Oslo, on May 2, 2019.
Cooks prepare food at Europe’s first underwater restaurant, 400 km south of Oslo, on May 2, 2019. (© AFP / Archives / Jonathan NACKSTRAND)

In addition to a distinctive architecture and high-class gastronomy, Under aims to be placed under a third cardinal value: awareness of environmental issues.

Very international, the staff is trained to be able, between two dishes, to feed the hosts of information on the aquatic ballet which could have inspired Jules Verne.

“The guests embark on an adventure, they explore nature themselves because what they see is not an aquarium. It is the fish that looks at us perhaps like in an aquarium.”

“You will never be disappointed: nature is never disappointing,” he promises.

Dessert made from seaweed

A 34-meter monolith designed by the Snøhetta firm that originated from famous buildings like the Oslo Opera House and the entrance to the New York Memorial on 11 September, the restaurant serves 40 seats five nights a week.

In the kitchen, the Danish chef Nicolai Ellitsgaard and his cooks deploy imaginative treasures to concoct seasonal menus based mainly on marine products, such as this dessert made from five different seaweeds collected on the nearby shore.

“We try to use local things or that no one else really uses.”

230 euros the menu

At 2250 crowns (230 euros) per person for the menu of 16 to 18 dishes – and about double in counting the wines – the place is not for all the purses but it nevertheless displays complete for the six months to come .

“What is wonderful is to come in here and see this beautiful light. This blue and green water, this interior in harmony with the sea, gives you the impression of diving, “says Dag Jacobsen, a 59-year-old teacher who came with his wife and a couple of friends.

Under, the first underwater restaurant in Europe 400 km south of Oslo, May 2, 2019.
Under, the first underwater restaurant in Europe 400 km south of Oslo, May 2, 2019. (© AFP / Archives / Jonathan NACKSTRAND)

The glass designed to withstand storms

“It’s impossible to distinguish the senses. The taste, the appearance, the sound, the vision … all of this is linked, of course, and I think it influences the way we feel about food, “says this fine gourmet, initially” a little skeptical “but finally conquered .

As for lovers of disaster films, they can be reassured: the plexiglass glass 26 centimeters thick was designed to withstand storms.

“We had a package of consultants,” explains Stig Ubostad, co-owner of the premises.

“There is nothing more sure.”

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