Norway’s paradise: Drink & dine in Flor & Fjære’s exotic garden

Photo courtesy of Flor & Fjære Fine food and wine in an exotic garden setting entice many visitors to Flor & Fjære each summer, including Her Majesty Queen Sonja, who celebrated her 70th birthday there.

Photo courtesy of Flor & Fjære
Fine food and wine in an exotic garden setting entice many visitors to Flor & Fjære each summer, including Her Majesty Queen Sonja, who celebrated her 70th birthday there.

Molly Jones
Norwegian American Weekly

Palm trees and a tropical garden in Norway? It may sound unbelievable, but such a glorious place does in fact exist, and it’s called Flor & Fjære. This peaceful little sanctuary is located on the island of Sør-Hidle, just a short boat trip north of Stavanger.

Each year, the exotic botanical garden bursting with 50,000 colorful flowers is designed by Olav Bryn, who first opened the garden paradise to guests with his wife, Siri, in 1995.

The story goes back to 1965, however, when Olav’s parents, Åsmund and Else Marie Bryn, moved to the peaceful Mangela farmstead due to Åsmund’s poor health. When Åsmund recovered, he began planting pine trees and a small garden. It eventually evolved into the tropical oasis it is today, encouraging Olav to invite visitors to enjoy the garden as well as a restaurant.

At the restaurant, guests delight in the creations of Chef André Mulder, who features the best local seafood while taking inspiration from international cuisine. The decadent dishes from last year’s menu included penne with fresh seafood, bacon cubes, and arrabbiata sauce; slow-cooked herb-marinated beef with oven-fried squash and eggplant in a creamy sauce with Spanish cheese; and fresh hake served with Spanish gazpacho and herbs from the garden.

Photo courtesy of Flor & Fjære

Photo courtesy of Flor & Fjære

Can’t decide? Don’t fret; meals are served buffet-style, allowing guests to sample all of Chef Mulder’s dishes. The restaurant also imports wines directly from Italy, France, South Africa, Portugal, and Brazil, adding to the international experience.

This year, Flor & Fjære is open to visitors May 7 to September 22, excluding Sundays. The five-hour excursion to Flor & Fjære is an ideal day trip on a nice day. The island is just a 20-minute boat ride aboard MS Rygerfjord from Skagenkaien in Stavanger; the boat departs Skagenkaien at 12:00 p.m. for the lunch trip and 5:00 p.m. for dinner. Guests may also travel on their own boats but must make a meal reservation in advance.

Both lunch and dinner trips to Flor & Fjære include a tour of the gardens with expert gardening tips, Chef Mulder’s delectable buffet, and dessert with coffee or tea. The cost for the trip is 990 kroner (about $120) for lunch and 1,190 kroner (about $145) for dinner, with slightly higher rates on Saturdays.

The unique, tropical nature of the island makes it a great destination for birthday and anniversary celebrations. Even Her Majesty Queen Sonja agrees; the queen celebrated her 70th birthday at Flor & Fjære!

Each year Flor & Fjære’s new garden designs and pleasurable atmosphere entice new and old visitors alike to the Norwegian paradise.

This article originally appeared in the April 22, 2016, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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