Iris: A Floating Culinary Adventure in a Norwegian Fjord

The most exciting restaurants in the world often require effort to reach. To visit Iris, one must fly to Bergen, Norway, then drive or take a two-hour boat ride before boarding a ferry.

Iris, nestled inside the Salmon Eye in the Hardanger fjord, offers an exclusive dining experience. Each night, a limited group of 24 guests embarks on an unforgettable journey, beginning with an electric boat tour of the fjord and culminating in an extraordinary 18-course dinner with panoramic views.

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Salmon Eye, one of the world’s largest floating art installations, aims to inspire sustainable seafood practices. Accessible only by boat, it boasts a stunning design with its double-curved ellipsoid design. With a weight of 1,256 tons, a diameter of 25 meters, and an area of 1,000.6 m2 divided over four levels, one of which is underwater.
Anika Madsen, the executive chef of Iris, emphasizes the inclusivity of the establishment, offering daytime tours for schools and the public, while evenings are reserved for dinner service.

As an enthusiastic food lover, I had the pleasure to discuss this exciting new project with Chef Anika, and she revealed intriguing insights into the ongoing construction and vision of the restaurant. The air was filled with anticipation as we delved deeper into our discussion.

©John Asle E. Hansen

Driven by curiosity, I inquired about the inspiration behind the name IRIS. “Since we are situated on Salmon Eye, the iris is actually what you find inside the eye. It is also the name of a powerful goddess who served as a messenger between the divine and mortal realms.” Anika graciously responded, “At Iris, we aspire to be a messenger of inspiration, encouraging people to explore new ingredients and shine a spotlight on less-known and underappreciated flavors. Here at Iris, they take center stage.”

With a picturesque view of the Malm and Melder mountains as a backdrop, Iris promises a unique and unforgettable culinary experience in the heart of the Norwegian fjord. Guests would be captivated by the beauty.

“How beautiful.” I commented, appreciating the natural splendor, “It’s truly a wild adventure, transitioning from city life to an island where lives four people only. How do you feel about living somewhere like nowhere?”

“It was a big decision to make because we love going out and dining, but when this opportunity came up, it felt like an opportunity too good to pass up. Since we moved here in March, we haven’t regretted it for a moment, even though it’s quite a distance from the nearest coffee shop or wine bar. We have to go all the way to Bergen. However, living here is all about being surrounded by nature from the moment we wake up till we go to bed. We have the sea, the mountains, and the forest,” Anika explained.

We proceeded to explore the kitchen, where Anika described the magnificent stage and the granite stone countertops, explaining their significance and contribution to the overall ambiance.

With an adventurous spirit and commitment to showcasing unconventional ingredients, Iris offers a unique dining experience amidst the captivating beauty of the Norwegian landscape. Inspired by the need to rediscover forgotten oceanic ingredients, Iris aims to address global food supply challenges.

Inspired by the bountiful coastal resources of their island home, Anika discovered a newfound passion for utilizing ingredients sourced within a 500-meter radius. She observed blue mussels clinging to their harbor, encountered beach crabs, and stumbled upon an unfamiliar seaweed variety. Intrigued by the potential of these local treasures, she set out to create a dish that would celebrate the flavors of the region. Combining smoked blue mussels with wild juniper, crab bouillon, and unique seaweed, Anika crafted the “500 Meters” dish—a testament to the abundance and beauty of their immediate surroundings. It reflected her belief in looking beyond conventional ingredients and showcasing the wonders that lie closer to home.

500 Meters

As we delved deeper into Anika’s culinary philosophy, she emphasized her passion for uncovering overlooked ingredients and presenting them in a fresh light. Whether it’s forgotten fish species, less-known clams, or underutilized seaweed varieties, Anika has always been an advocate for showcasing the potential of these ingredients. During her time as a TV chef in Copenhagen, she would bring forth traditional Danish culinary treasures, allowing them to shine in a modern context. For Anika, it’s about pushing boundaries and presenting ingredients in innovative ways, both from the sea and the land, ultimately inviting diners to explore the uncharted realms of taste.

Anika Madsen is a rising star in the culinary world known for her dedication to sustainability and her innovative approach to cooking. She started her culinary journey at 17 and worked at prestigious restaurants like Formel B and Kadeau. Recently, she served as the Head Chef at renowned Copenhagen restaurants Roxie and Fasangården. The restaurant manager is Nico Danielsen who brings his expertise from famous Copenhagen establishments such as Formel B, Sletten, Uformel, Meyers Madhus, and Sletten Kro.

Transitioning to Anika’s personal journey, we discussed the challenges she faced when transitioning from bustling city life to the serene countryside. As a chef accustomed to the vibrancy of city dining scenes and Michelin-starred kitchens, Anika questioned whether she was ready to leave it all behind. However, the allure of working with unparalleled produce from the pristine Norwegian waters proved irresistible. Embracing a life where nature dictates her daily agenda, Anika discovered an abundance of inspiration. From farming to foraging seaweed before setting foot in her kitchen, she wholeheartedly embraced her new reality, finding fulfillment in the harmonious relationship between nature and her craft.

Looking toward the future, we explored Anika’s aspirations for Iris. She expressed her belief that this extraordinary restaurant, with its remarkable origins and sustainable fish farming practices, has immense potential. Salmon Eye originates from Eide Fjordbruk, the world’s first and only CarbonNeutral® certified salmon producer.

Each ingredient in Iris’s menu will be given the spotlight, becoming the main character in a culinary story. Anika and her team are merely there to enhance and elevate the ingredients, allowing them to shine on their own. Iris will not only tantalize the taste buds but also serve as a platform to raise awareness about the local area and its culinary treasures.

Eager to offer insight to fellow food enthusiasts who may embark on a journey to Iris, Anika shared her excitement and extended a warm invitation. She assured them that their visit would be met with genuine smiles and a wealth of culinary delights. Emphasizing the unpredictable nature of their coastal location, she welcomes diners to embrace the challenges of changing weather, with rainstorms giving way to sunny skies within moments. With an abundance of stories and flavors waiting to be discovered, Anika promises an unforgettable culinary expedition for all who venture to Iris.

The prospect of immersing oneself in the natural wonders of Rosendal, while indulging in thoughtfully crafted dishes that pay homage to the region’s ingredients, is a truly exciting prospect. Every dish has a story and a connection to the unique farmers, fishermen, and producers who supply the ingredients. Iris promises to be a culinary haven where flavors, stories, and the splendor of nature intertwine. Prepare to embark on an extraordinary gastronomic adventure.

Author: Jocelyn 华姐
Photo: Salmon Eye (John Asle E. Hansen, Sebastian Lamberg Torjusen, Tobias Lamberg Torjusen)
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Jocelyn Chen
Jocelyn Chen
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