"Under" is the world's largest underwater restaurant and is submerged 16 feet in the North Sea.
From the outside, it resembles a concrete tube. But from the inside, it is Norway's new underwater restaurant — and it is the world's biggest. The aptly named restaurant "Under" is a beautiful dining experience that features unique views and a sustainable menu. Under seats up to 100 guests, though on a normal evening, they'll seat approximately 40.
Only a few underwater restaurants exist in the world, mainly in tropical waters like the Maldives in the Indian Ocean and Under is the largest of them all.
The trendy eatery is submerged about 16 feet beneath the North Sea near the southern tip of the country. In Norweigan, "Under" has the dual meaning of "below" and "wonder," which befits the otherworldly marine atmosphere in the restaurant. Over half the restaurant is submerged in the sea so guests must enter through a glass walkway which extends between the coast and the shore.
Through the large windows, diners can view various forms of sea life including urchins, crabs, spiny dogfish, seals, and distinctive seaweed and kelp. Diners may also catch a roaring live performance of stormy seas when the weather is tumultuous, though this should be of no real concern as the design firm Snøhetta built Under to withstand even the worst of storms.
"As a new landmark for Southern Norway, Under proposes unexpected combinations of pronouns and prepositions, and challenges what determines a person’s physical placement in their environment," said architect Kjetil Trædal Thorsen. "In this building, you may find yourself underwater, over the seabed, between land and sea. This will offer you new perspectives and ways of seeing the world, both beyond and beneath the waterline."
Building An Underwater Restaurant
Under is reminiscent of a rock formation rising from the sea. It looks more like an art installation than a restaurant.
Constructing Under took about 6 months on land. After the shell of the restaurant itself was built, it was towed into position to be submerged. Workers placed containers filled with water inside the restaurant in order to submerge it into the sea. It was then secured to the sea floor at 18 different anchoring points.
The Menu At Under
The underwater restaurant opened in April of 2019 and already has more than 7,000 customers booked. If you plan on visiting Under, you'd better be hungry and plan on splurging because a reservation comes with an 18-course meal that costs about $430 a person.
There will, of course, be a wide selection of locally-sourced seafood at Under. There is a turf option to the surf menu as you'll have the opportunity to taste seabirds and wild sheep from nearby.
Under hopes to bring under-appreciated seafood to diners using ingredients rarely served elsewhere like stone crab and rugose squat lobster. The head chef is Nicolai Ellitsgaard Pedersen, formerly the head chef at the acclaimed gourmet restaurant "Måltid" in Kristiansand city center.
Rich and warm, the thoughtful interiors of Under are welcoming as you descend level by level. Snøhetta collaborated with local carpentry workshop Hamran to design furniture exclusively for the restaurant. They designed everything with nature in mind.
Chairs are continuous in form to mimic the way branches naturally progress from the tree stem and textile-clad ceiling panels resemble the colors of an ocean sunset.
Though the designs are very deliberate, they're also understated and simple. After all, the main focus here is the unparalleled views.
Another aspect of the restaurant is its dedication to marine research. Under welcomes a research team hoping to study marine biology and behavior through cameras and other tools installed on the underwater restaurant's facade.
The team's goal is to document the population, diversity, and behaviors of species living in the area. Collecting this data will find ways to better manage marine resources.
After this look at the world's largest underwater restaurant, read about the weird thing this Maine restaurant is doing to their lobsters before boiling them. Then dive into the world's first underwater hotel.