Iris the restaurant in a Norwegian fjord. Håkon Settemsdal
Iris serves carbon-neutral seafood and brings awareness to the impacts of global fishing.
Just getting to Norway’s newest fine-dining restaurant, Iris, requires an expedition. Upon landing in Oslo, you fly an hour to Bergen, take a two-hour ferry to the port of Rosendal, hop on an electric boat and cruise through Hardangerfjord, make a stop on the island of Snilstveitøy, and finally, pull up to a jetty at a floating art exhibit, where inside, you’ll find a dining room.
If it sounds like the start of the most memorable meal ever, but also a bit like the beginning of the 2022 movie The Menu, you’re correct on both accounts. Norwegian opera singer Mari Eriksmoen visited Iris in July, drawing a parallel to the film and posting about her 18-course experience on TikTok, where the video went viral. One user even commented, “I’ve seen how this movie ends.” Without giving too much away, though, Iris tells a very different story.
Diners take an electric boat from the port at Rosendal with a stopover on Snilstveitøy.
John Asle E. Hansen
“We wanted to create an experience for our guests where we bring them as close to nature and produce as we could manage,” says Iris’ manager, Sebastian Torjusen. “We wanted to create something inspiring and thought-provoking that sheds light on different parts of our food system with challenges, flavors, and possibilities.” Though the staff sees diners’ connection with The Menu, Torjusen assures us that Iris takes much better care of its guests.
In fact, Iris was in the works long before the movie. Last summer, Norway’s first CarbonNeutral-certified salmon producer, Eide Fjordbruk, unveiled its gleaming Salmon Eye in the middle of Hardangerfjord. The orb-shaped structure arrived after three years of development – a 10,000-square-foot ocean-conservation platform, education center, and interactive space, plus a 24-seat restaurant. For Iris, the seafood farm enlisted Danish chef Anika Madsen to lead the experimental kitchen, which, as of this season, serves carbon-neutral salmon – as well as invasive red sea urchin, carbon-sequestering seaweed, ocean-cleaning lumpsucker, and nutrient-dense algae – with Michelin-level precision.
The 24-seat restaurant serves diners an 18-course meal with Michelin-level precision.
Tobias Lamberg Torjusen
The team hopes to show diners just how much more food – and good food – the world can source from the sea, all while creating a positive environmental impact through hydroelectric-powered farming and transportation. “This region offers some of the cleanest and most exciting seafood produce in the world,” Madsen says. “If I discover an ingredient that will lead to a greener future, I’m not afraid to push boundaries. But to convince people to love it, it needs to be truly delicious.”
And Iris isn’t Norway’s only restaurant that combines a similar set of environmental, geographic, and culinary ambitions. When the restaurant Under opened in Lindesnes in 2019 – a modernist shipwreck built one story below sea level and serving the likes of lobster claws with foraged accoutrements – we predicted it would be the year’s most immersive Nordic dining experience. Iris, meanwhile, keeps things above the surface, but it will make you dive deep for your dinner.