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.
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.
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.
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.