This Extreme Dining Experience In Norway Is 18 Feet Below Sea Level

Partially submerged in the icy waters of Norway's southern coast is an experience unlike any other. To simply call it a restaurant is insufficient; it's a destination, a literal immersion, an adventure, a window into a world both mysterious and ordinary, an architectural marvel, and it's the place that earned the country of Norway its very first Michelin star (via Noble & Style magazine).

The physical space that houses Under is simultaneously otherworldly and firmly anchored in its hyperlocal environment. Designed by Norwegian architecture firm Snøhetta, according to Montecristo Magazine, Under is built of concrete and local oak, and presented a unique challenge: convince diners to enter above the water, descend to the seabed five meters below to a dining room with expansive windows, and experience sea life as never before. 

Snøhetta architect, Rune Grasdal described Under's location and aesthetics to Noble & Style Magazine, explaining, "The spot for the restaurant was chosen to have the greatest possible contact with nature, the sea, and the forces of nature." He adds that while dining, "You have plenty of time to study life in the sea without disturbing the different species, and light and weather conditions lead to many wonderful nature experiences."

Even getting to Under is an adventure, as it's not close to any major cities, and the nearest airport is an hour and twenty minutes away.

What about the food?

Creating a menu that matches such a dramatic location captivated head chef Nicolai Ellitsgaard for years before Under opened in 2019. The menu is anything but mundane, and guests place themselves entirely in the chef's hands. Each dining experience consists of 18 to 21 courses intended to surprise and delight those fortunate enough to have secured a reservation. 

Ellitsgaard described his approach on the restaurant's website, saying, "Fresh ingredients and pure, naked flavors 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 comfort zone."

Reservations are made months in advance, and the evening's menu is a surprise, containing ingredients like kelp, limpets, 100-year-old mahogany clam, monkfish cheeks, sorrel leaves, stinging nettles, and squat lobster. The Immersion Menu is currently priced at NOK 2450, or roughly $255USD. Two wine pairings are also available: a Submerged pairing for "playful new experiences" for around $172 and a Surface option with more traditional pairings at $313.

Chef Ellitsgaard is quite deliberate about his selections. He told Montecristo Magazine, "When we talk about exclusive food, for some people it's foie gras or wagyu beef from Japan. I think it's much more exclusive to get langoustine caught from our own fishing boat. That's a super luxury." Being immersed, both literally and figuratively in the environment is part of what makes Under's extreme dining experience worth seeking out.