BERGEN, NORWAY: Christopher Haatuft suddenly became the Godfather of the new Neo-Fjordic Cuisine. Almost two years ago he opened restaurant Lysverket in Bergen Art Museum, after few years at New York’s Blue Hill at Stone Barns and three-Michelin-starred legend Per Se. The idea was to create one very cool spot in a historic building far enough from the tourist-heavy city center.
The Nordic joke
Christopher Haatuft loves to tell the story behind the name – the Neo-Fjordic cuisine; “We were joking and taking the piss out of everything wanting to be New Nordic, as much as we have huge respect for those guys. I was a bit drunk that night and changed my Twitter handle to “Founder of Neo-Fjordic Cuisine”. Suddenly there was a piece in the New York Post talking about our “sophisticated Neo-Fjordic Cuisine”. So I guess it’s ours now”.
The concept was about embracing the local area – and if you look at what’s around, it’s going to be seafood. Lysverket serves three-, five- and nine-course set menus, and around seven of the nine dishes are based on seafood.
Here is the five course-menu presented in July: Zucchini, mint cream, purslane and shad roe as a starter. Then came Langoustine, shellfish ravioli, turnip, morello cherries and shellfish sauce – Herb roasted red fish, braised kale, dried gooseberries and barley – Braised and crispy bacon, salt baked rutabaga, mustard leaves, leek and elderflower gastrique – and for dessert Strawberries, lime curd, basil sauce, yoghurt and strawberry sorbet.
The local fish
Neo-Fjordic food includes lesser-eaten fish such as coalfish or types of shellfish so obscure they don’t have Norwegian names.
“We get it fresher than the world’s best restaurants. It’s as good quality as you find”, Christopher says, recognized by diners that have been impressed so far, one year after Lysverket made Bergen a more gastronomic city. Menus range from around 595 to 995 Norwegian krone (NOK), or from 70 to 118 Euro.
Right now there’s a lot of attention to Scandinavia. However, in the world of fine dining the city of Bergen, the second largest and on the west coast of Norway, is located in the middle of nowhere – or to be more exact one hour flight from Copenhagen and five hours by train from Oslo.
“Any talent we have in Norway they all move to the big cities. A place like New York attracts all these talented guys from all over the world and Bergen is basically the place people move away from”
Natural and organic
“We have to build an identity for the restaurant that’s natural and organic from where we are located. We do go to islands and pick oysters and small bay scallops and all kind of seafood there. We are very area-specific – it has to be a restaurant that could only be in Bergen”, Christopher Haatuft says. He wants to open a couple other places.
Before Christopher opened Lysverket he didn’t look at far more famous Noma in Copenhagen, ranked as the Best Restaurant in the World. He doesn’t copy what they are doing in Denmark. After all, he is the Godfather of Neo-Fjordic. You don’t joke with that name any more.
What they said…
Condé Nast Traveler: ”The ingredients are local—whether it’s seafood, reindeer, or apples—and the vegetables are just as inventive as the mains”.
NY Post: “After dinner, stick around: DJ spin after 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, adding a late-night party ambiance to the sleek surroundings”.
Social media: Despite few mixed comments on social media, the remarks are excellent. King Goya builds our statements on comments from guests we trust.
Pictures by Honey Preeyar
Read more: Drink Local in Europe
Make it Happen!
Touch Down: You can fly to Bergen Airport Flesland direct from more than 30 central destinations in Europe. You only need to change planes once to get here from more distant cities. You can also fly direct to most Norwegian towns and cities from Bergen. A shuttle bus departs from the airport every 15 minutes. With the Bergen Card, you have free bus travel within the city limits, free admittance to most museums and attractions.
Stay: City Box, citybox.no, is an option for budget travellers. Double from 85 euro, room only.
Eat: Specialties in Bergen are fish soup, smoked and cured salmon, fresh catfish and monkfish, "spekesild" (herring), and game and venison (elk, reindeer and deer). Other specialties are "skillingsbolle" (a sweet cinnamon roll), "fiskekake" (fish cake) and newly cooked shrimps from the famous Fish Market.
Play: You will find just about everything from tea rooms to gourmet fish restaurants, from small bistros to discotheques, bars and nightclubs.
Mini Guide: The city has one of the world’s oldest symphony orchestras, a professional ballet company, an exciting jazz and blues scene, repertory theatres, imaginative revues and a wide choice of festivals. Bergen and its areas can offer a good variety of activities ranging from golf to fishing and hiking. The mountains around the city have some splendid trails and the Fløibanen Funicular is just minutes away. Deep sea fishing and fishing in calmer water are two other possibilities.