Where we eat can have a massive effect on how we feel about food. If you were served a lukewarm, slightly suspect, squashed tin of Chinese takeaway in a Michelin starred restaurant, you might be justifiably disappointed in your dinner. Eat the same meal on your sofa, with Netflix, in your pants, however, and it will probably be the best thing you’ve ever tasted. Whatever you like to eat, environment matters an awful lot.
This reality makes news coming out of Norway all the more exciting. After years of planning and development, Scandinavian collaborative and architectural firm Snohetta have finally unveiled Europe’s first ever underwater restaurant - one of the most dramatic construction projects in recent memory. Chiselled into the side of a slate grey, granite cliff-edge in the Norweigan county of Lindesnes, the aptly named “Under” restaurant offers diners an eating experience unlike anything else on the menu.
Based around the classic design of a periscope, the new restaurant looks like something that might be bought by a semi-aquatic bond villain. Half sunken into the sea, the solid slab of steel and concrete resembles a derailed train carriage, barely clinging to the slippery rock on the shore. Warm and cuddly, it is not. However, take a look inside as you slip below the waves, and the wild exterior is completely transformed.
Safely away from the battered body of the building, guests will be able to sit at a giant eleven-meter-wide and 3.4-meter-tall horizontal window that peers into the green gloom of a Norweigan fjord, that “offers a visual gateway to the sea and connects the guests to the wildlife outside,” according to Under’s official website. If the pictures are anything to go by, the whole thing looks equal parts eerie and epic.
The food itself looks set to be a premium example of modern, high-class Scandinavian cooking. The website reveals that the restaurant will host between 35-40 guests every night, serving a selection of “high quality, locally-sourced produce, with a special emphasis on sustainable wildlife capture.” Leading the kitchen team will be Danish chef Nicolai Ellitsgaard, who will be bringing with him “an international, 16-person kitchen team with experience from top Michelin restaurants.” For anyone who makes it past the perilous seashore, a meal at Under promises to be a night to remember.
The entire project has been seamlessly integrated into the environment. The 34-metre long outer shell of the building also acts as an artificial reef, helping to shield Under from Lindesnes’ notoriously unpredictable weather conditions. The design team have also been quick to point out that the facility is not just about food - in fact, according to the website, “An equally important part of the project is the building’s facilitation of marine research,” and the structure will also host “interdisciplinary research teams studying marine biology and fish behavior.” It might be most notable for its futuristic design, but Under promises to be a unique restaurant in more ways than one.