I have been several time to Stavanger in the past, all of them job-related. This was the first time I went to Stavanger for private purposes. I was informed of a place called Flor og Fjære, a restaurant-cum-garden or garden-cum-restaurant, whichever way you wish to see it. My mother loves plants and we have a summer house surrounded by thousands and thousands of plants and flowers and a huge swimming pool. It was a summer house so we did not have any restaurant. I expected something like our summer house. This post is a review of both the garden and the restaurant. You cannot have one without the other in this place.
Booking the tour to Flor og Fjær
Our tickets were booked online ahead of time. Do book ahead of time as places are limited and they are open only in late spring to late summer/early autumn. Your ticket includes roundtrip fares from Stavanger, a tour of the place, a buffet lunch and dessert with coffee or tea. From the city center of Stavanger, go to Skagenkaia. You can’t miss it as the center is not that big and when you see the water and the port, then you know that is where you should go. The boat departs at 12 noon at Skagen pier and you are back in the afternoon at the same place at 5 pm. You may take your own boat, but you have to reserve as there also limited places for boats.
The ferry MS Rygerfjord took 20 minutes to get us to Flor og Fjære. The place seemed like a hundred times bigger than our summer house. You see right away that the people who drives the place love gardening because the whole place is so well-kept. Not a single weed in sight, no trash, and the whole area was dotted with plants of all kinds.
A little history
We were met by Siri, the wife of Olav Bryn. Both are second generation descendants of the original “gardener” of the place, Åsmund and Else Marie Bryn. Åsmund and Else Marie bought the place in 1965. It’s original purpose was to be the family’s summer cabin. Åsmund planted thousands of trees around the place. As Åsmund retired, he wanted to still continue to do something so he started planting flowers and herbs and other plants. Those who came to visit told about this great garden and other people wanted to see it. Now the next generation is training to take over, as represented by Endre Bryn, the son of Olav and Siri.
Through the years, they had so many guests that there was a need for a restaurant. This was opened by Olav Bryne and his wife Siri. The kitchen is headed by Chef Andre Mulder who has been working here for 20 years now. He tried to downplay his love for the place, but you can read it through his eyes and his food. Food created by love is the best-tasting food in the world.
During the winter, Flor og Fjære is closed, Olav uses this time to research for new plants for the next season, design the landscape, and prepare the schedule of planting, etc. Siri visits vineyards all over Europe to find wine that will match the next season’s menu. They are a great team and very accommodating. According to Siri, they expect more than 30,000 guests this year. And this is just for a 4-5 month period. This year they opened May 4, 2017.
Flor og Fjære has trees and plants everywhere. Some trees were planted from 1965 when Olav bought the place. The one on the northern most part of the island is not cut and it protects the place from the cold winds in the winter. However, right outside is the Rygerfjord with waters from the Gulf stream so the place is abundant with fish and other marine life.
Siri showed us this huge place. It is divided into different sections: Palms, perennials, cactus, roses, bamboos, other flowers, bonsai, cypress, succulents, and fruit-bearing trees. I would love to have this palm called Chinese windmill. Palms usually live in warmer climates. This particular palm is meant for temperate climates and it even has a “fur” on its trunk. Please hover the mouse over each picture to get a description.
This was the last place I expected palm trees. IN NORWAY. But they have a lot of these. In the winter they use special “head covers” placed on the palm trees to protect them. Their collection of bonsai is extraordinary. They have a huge bonsai which is 150 years old and still looking good. Diagonally across it is a koi fish pond. Any Asian will tell you that this fish brings good luck. It looks like a carp and comes in beautiful colors, mostly orange, black and cream.
It was also surprising to see banana trees. These trees are very common for me, but a lot of Norwegians are not aware of how this tree looks like. They know the fruit but not the tree.
Since they have a restaurant, they also have some plants used in the kitchen like lemon, herbs and vegetables.
Flor og Fjære has a huge natural swimming pool with freshwater, and a man-made saltwater “pool” by the fjord. It looks more like natural beachfront and not a pool. June 10 and the water was not inviting but I did take some pictures.
Flowers are everywhere. And where there are flowers, there are colors. Where there are colors, you have happy guests.
After the tour around the gardens, Siri guided us back to the restaurant where were met by Chef Andre. He is such a jolly character, you would love him whatever he cooked. What was interesting was that he said he cooked his version of a Filipino dish called adobo, one of my favorites. Extra points for this guy.
Everybody who works here were very cheerful. They all greeted us and were very patient as they explained the different drinks and wines that can be taken with our meals. The restaurant is huge with ceiling to floor windows and fantastic views of the garden and the fjord. It was like somebody’s huge cottage and gave it a homey atmosphere.
The tables were set in typical Scandinavian style, no-fuss and frills.
This was what was on the buffet table:
Hidlefjord fish soup – this was heavy so I suggest do not fill your bowl to the brim. Served with fresh-baked bread.
Philippine Chicken Adobo – Chef Andre’s take on the Philippine adobo. He served it with basmati rice, okra, chickpeas and tropical fruit.
Hidlefjord Farm lamb shoulder – in red curry (as this tastes better than the green and red ones, according to Chef Andre). When it is almost done, he pours coconut cream. Served with ricotta & spinach.
Trout Carpaccio – This was my absolute favorite on the buffet table, I had two servings of this one. The thin slices were marinated in virgin olive oil, white wine, capers and shallots. Served on a bed of arugula.
Oven baked cat fish – Am not a huge fan of cat fish, but this one was good. There was lemon, parmesan, mayonnaise, fried cherry tomatoes and topped with basil.
Caponata – Sicilian aubergine stew with homemade spaghetti. It had a sauce of dark chocolate over it. I was sceptic to try it at first. Dark brown sauce over spaghetti did not look
Fresh fish of the day – This together with the trout carpaccio were my top two favorites.
Sidings included were almandine potatoes, oven roasted vegetables, salads and homemade dressings.
Dessert of chocolate mousse with strawberries and cream.
Coffee or tea.
Drinks were not included so we ordered a juice specially created by Flor og Fjære, a drink of rips and apples. Very refreshing taste and suits our meal.
It was because of the gardens that the place became known. In his time, Åsmund took his business contacts to the island. They were very impressed by what they saw and told everyone about it. A lot of people then requested to see the place even though they were not his business connections. As time went on, they realized they needed to have a bigger place that can serve food to the people visiting the place.
Because of the uniqueness of Flor og Fjære, it is a great place to hold special occasions, hold meetings, do team-building, and other group activities. Their biggest meeting rooms has a capacity of 100 persons. The dining place has a capacity of one hundred people. Even if your main purpose is to have a meeting, I strongly recommend that you have a least one meal here, either lunch or dinner.
I can imagine what a romantic place this can be for a wedding. If you want a beachfront wedding and a reception with a garden setting, this place is perfect.
When I was there, they just finished their sturgeon pond and the first school of sturgeons were in place. They plan to eventually harvest their own caviar from their own pond. Far-fetched dream, but I won’t be surprised if it becomes a reality. Think about it. Stavanger caviar. Sounds good.
Flor og fjære was more than what I expected. My pictures do not do the place any justice. It is so much beautiful in reality. The food was superb and the gardens so full of color and life. Include it in your next trip to Stavanger. You won’t regret it. Remember to book your trip here.