Located in a Norwegian fjord, Iris is an orb-shaped floating restaurant that serves ultra-sustainable seafood alongside lessons in aquaculture. Olivia Palamountain reports
Glance across Hardanger fjord in western Norway and it appears an alien has landed. A vast metallic pebble floats in the deep water, offering no clue as to what’s inside.
The aim of the Salmon Eye venue is to inspire and inform how we can sustainably provide the world with more food from the sea, while in-house restaurant Iris puts these practices on plates.Opened in June, Iris is helmed by Danish chef Anika Madsen, who trained under Heston Blumenthal at Dinner By Heston in London.
Guests for Iris’s “Expedition Dining” concept are taken on a culinary journey that begins with an electric boat ride from the mainland to the chef’s boathouse. Here, a maximum of 24 diners receive a welcome snack and a preview of the evening’s 18-course tasting menu. The meal continues at the Salmon Eye venue with a “multi-sensory experience” tailored to the natural landscape, showcasing unique flavours and textures using hyper-local and seasonal ingredients.
If weather permits, one course is served outdoors over an open flame, surrounded by stunning views of the fjord and mountains.
At the end of the night, guests take the boat back to Rosendal. The experience costs 3,200 NOK (about £263) per person, with a two-person minimum to book. Iris Expedition Dining says no two meals will taste exactly the same, however, previous dishes have included Norwegian sea urchin or a one-month-old baby salmon fried whole.
“From sewer to hero” is a plate that contains cleaning fish, which fish farmers use to clean louse off salmon before discarding, infused in a fricassee with oysters and mushrooms, which can clean up petrol in the ocean and still be edible.
As reported by The Times, the restaurant already has a waiting list of more than 2,000 people and is sold out for October despite prices starting at an £237 a head.
“We did not expect the bookings would go so crazy and lots of people would want to come,” Madsen tells the newspaper. “Even on the waiting list they will always show up after two days. They are willing to travel far with short notice.” Madsen, who used to visit the Norwegian fjords on childhood holidays, created the “hyper local” menu to raise awareness about sustainable food practices. Like Denmark’s famous chef Rene Redzepi (of Noma), she is determined to showcase the best of Nordic cuisine.
“I definitely hope they [guests] take away more than a really nice dinner,” she said, “Flavour is always first but we have dishes that poke to the consciousness, that can be difficult or challenging for them to eat.”