You do like fish and unusual places? Then so-called underwater restaurants should exactly suit your taste ONCE THE CORONA LIMITATIONS ARE OBSOLATE. Don’t worry: You don’t need diving goggles and wetsuits to get there (wheather they are currently a sound guarantee to stay healthy). All underwater restaurants are accessible via separate entrances and are of special architecture.
Basically, the atmosphere is like sitting in an aquarium – left, right and all around the ocean, underneath your feed the sea bottom. Surrounded by shoals of fish and corals, underwater restaurants offer the opportunity to enjoy maritime delicacies in a suitable setting. Here are three examples:
Europe’s first underwater restaurant opened on the south coast of Norway near Kristiansand in April 2019. The “UNDER” (German/ English meaning reads: wonder) serves dishes that are normally not on the menu list. https://www.under.no/
If you go to work or eat here as a guest, you have to go down a long wooden staircase. The kitchen boss is a Dane and the restaurant is situated more than five meters below sea level.
The building looks a bit like a shoebox that has slipped to one side. Only the building corpus protrudes from the water with one end. A long staircase made of local oak then leads down to the dining room, which opens across the full width with a window to the sea. In consequence the entire room is soaked in blue-green light of the sea.
According to the architect Kjetil Trædal Thorsen the biggest challenge was the foundation. Normally this would have to carry a heavy load, but here under water gravity works in the other direction. The building wanted to float up. Therefore it is anchored to the sea bottom.
In contrast to other underwater restaurants, in Lindesnes also the functional rooms such as the kitchen, the wine store and the toilets are placed below sea level.
The almost 40 square meter window to the sea is like a stage. Here you can see fish, crayfish, mussels, algae and diving eider ducks. Chef cook Nicolai visits his “sea garden” for harvesting at least once a week with waterproofed fishing trousers. Because “finger tang” (tastes a little like licorice) and “algae” are an important part of the dishes and menus. Then the “green rags” are served with cheese and stick bread; even jam is made from it.
However, the kitchen also offeres other “hidden treasures” such as spring crabs, limpets or the roe of the ling fish, things that are normally thrown back into the sea.
The 18-course meal with the limpet parfait as a starter certainly has its price. Without wine you have to pay around 230 EUROS per person. But that obviously does not prevent the guests from dining at the “UNDER” because it is fully booked for weeks in advance.
Another variant offers e.g. the “ITHAA” (German/ English meaning reads „nacre“) on the Ari Atoll of the Maldives. Acually it was the first underwater restaurant in the world at all and is also located about five meters below the water surface. From a glazed platform, a spiral staircase leads under water to the restaurant. The extraordinary restaurant is only nine meters long, five meters wide and has 14 seats. The steel structure weighed 175 tons when it was sunk. Thanks to the arched plexiglass roof, visitors get an incredible panoramic view of the creatures of the Indian Ocean; in particular colorful fish. Daily fish feedings ensure that there are always numerous fish in the immediate vicinity of the restaurant.
However, the unique under water feeling also has its price: on average around EUR 250 for the menu. With small drawbacks, the price can be significantly reduced. Besides the only few complete underwater restaurants in the world, there are more and more so-called “aquarium restaurants” where you can see the fish, e.g. the “LA MER” in Neuwied (Rhineland-Palatinate, near Koblenz) that I have recently visited. https://www.restaurant-lamer.de/
The outside apperance is not impressive, but on the inside the entire room is immersed in blue light and the walls are modeled like a grotto. There are 15 tables to choose from, while the five places in front of the large aquarium window (divided into 3 parts, each about 9 square meters) are of course the most popular. Here the fish shoals seem to caress you while passing. And some of the quite large specimens (of up to 60 centimeters) seem to take a really interested look at the guests in “standby mode”. As far as I could see there are e.g. lemon yellow and blue doctorfish, zebra fish, gray unicorn fish, fire fish, etc.
Here too, the menu mainly contains of fish. From starters such as shrimps and scallops to smoked salmon soup, the guest may slowly switch to the main courses such as parrotfish or skrei (cod). To round off the salty menu, the desserts turn out sweet: champagne cream, creme brulet or fruit sorbets can be found on the diversified menu card. If you don’t like fish, you will also be offered alternatives. For example, there are Mediterranean vegetables for vegetarians. Meat lovers can enjoy the same in combination with a beef filet/ steak. Everything cleverly presented.
The price range is also on a higher level, but is far below those mentioned above. The parrot filet on sweet potato foam with lemongrass is around EURO 25.-, my „five kinds of delicacies from salt and fresh water“ (as a starter) was EURO 15.-
Nevertheless, I wasn’t able to stop watching the almost meditative „fish procession“ and time flew by. Finally, two personal tips: It’s best to book a place near the wreck, because you feel like “Captain Nemo” and will see most of the fish.
For special occasions – e.g. an underwater wedding – you are also allowed to enter the aquarium. After having taken a deep breath from the oxygen bottle, you can indicate a “bubbly yes” and wave to the guests from inside. Isn’t that something special? … right now/ in those times eventually the only possibilty to celebrate within a group.
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