“The fare was described as ‘Norwegian tapas’ – and everything was delicious”

Plukkfisk and an extensive beer list hit the mark in Bergen

Bare Vestland's cosy subterranean space
Bare Vestland's cosy subterranean space

I was recently in Bergen – for all of eight hours. While some in my party opted for a hop-on, hop-off bus tour of this Norwegian World Heritage city, others headed straight for the funicular and the spectacular views it afforded, and a few sprinted to Helly Hansen, as they hadn’t planned for the chilly, rainy weather. But I had just one item on the agenda: finding a great place to eat.

Local white fish of the day (depending on what fish comes in that day), radish and turnips with oxtail sauce and green apple
Local white fish of the day (depending on what fish comes in that day), radish and turnips with oxtail sauce and green apple

There were almost too many options to wade through, without a lot of time to make a decision and using patchy cruise-ship internet. My requirements were simple: I wanted to sample very good Norwegian cuisine at a place that was open for lunch. I chose Bare Vestland. Why? The honest answer is that in addition to great reviews for its food, it received kudos for an extensive beer selection – something that would please my travelling companion. 

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After a massive Google Maps fail took us literally all over the city in the course of 90 minutes (which, in retrospect, gave us a great walking tour of Bergen, through areas we wouldn’t have otherwise explored), we found the spot. I took one look at the unimpressive exterior and thought I’d made a huge mistake. That all changed when we took the steps down to the subterranean space and walked into a cosy, stylish cabin of sorts – low ceilings, wood floors and furnishings, a few strategically placed antlers, industrial lighting and an open kitchen. We were on the late side for lunch, but the place was bustling with more locals than tourists. I took that as a good sign. 

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It was. The fare was described as “Norwegian tapas”, and while the seasonal menu wasn’t large, everything we sampled – from the warm sourdough bread (NKr45, about £4) to the Plukkfisk (about £14.50), a regional speciality served with leeks and bacon, to the beef cheeks (about £15.50) and local cheeses (about £13.50) in lieu of dessert – was delicious. My dinner date opted for a Bergen-brewed beer (from about £8); I enjoyed a local Bareksten gin with a German (Thomas Henry) tonic (about £14). We felt absolutely zero FOMO (fear of missing out) upon returning to the ship. 

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