17 February has become a historic day for Bare in Bergen. The restaurant at Bergen Børs Hotel can now adorn itself with a Michelin star – as the very first in Bergen.
At this year’s Michelin Star Awards in Trondheim, the excitement was palpable. Although the odds of getting a star were in Bare Restaurant’s favour, a positive outcome was far from certain. The announcement by host Thomas Giertsen that Bergen finally had been awarded a star was greeted with loud cheers and applause from the audience – both in the hall and at the restaurant in Bergen where 55 culinary enthusiasts, including Bare’s own team, followed the ceremony on big-screen TV.
– We are immensely proud and happy. This is the result of the work we have put in over the past 10 years, smiles Øystein Ellingsen, one of the entrepreneurs behind Bare.
And restaurant’s main shareholder, Kjetil Smørås, joins in the celebrations.
– It was a moment of incredible joy and great relief when Bare Restaurant was awarded a Michelin star. I am moved just thinking about everything the Bare entrepreneurs have had to deal with over the 10 years the restaurant has been in existence. This is not something that has happened by chance – they have spent many years putting in enormous effort and hard work, says Kjetil Smørås, managing director of the hotel chain De Bergenske and main shareholder of Bare Restaurant.
He is talking about the entrepreneurs Morten Tungesvik and Øystein Ellingsen, and their long, challenging journey – in which Smørås himself has played an important part.
The horizon has not always looked as clear and bright for the restaurant. In spring 2019, the outlook was dark – Bare was on the brink of bankruptcy. Then hotel owner and director Smørås entered the scene as main shareholder. The team agreed to spend two years focussing on getting Bergen’s first Michelin star. Eight months later they had already reached their target.
– This is amazing news for Bare Restaurant and the city as a whole. Targeted efforts have been made to create a high-quality restaurant in Bergen, and this has been achieved, says Smørås.
The entrepreneurs return the praise, and are very clear that the support from Smørås and De Bergenske has been crucial.
– Smørås brought stability and calm to the business during a challenging period. He made it possible for us to focus on cultivating the concept in which we believe. That this has made it easier to run the restaurant is beyond question, says Ellingsen.
The Michelin-star restaurant Bare is situated on floor three in Bergen’s old stock exchange from 1862. This is the same building as the exclusive design hotel Bergen Børs, which is owned and run by the same family. Five-metre-high ceilings, views of Vågen and Fløyen, and a location as close to the heart of Bergen as it is possible to get. A stone’s throw from the Fish Market and everything Bergen has to offer. Bare Restaurant’s location and premises are unique in their own right.
In minimalistic and stylish surroundings, guests from all over the world are served exquisite dishes based on local ingredients. And it is first and foremost because of the menu that the restaurant was voted Bergen’s best by Dagens Næringsliv in 2017 – and now can boast a brand new Michelin star.
The concept and vision of Bare Restaurant have always been the same – to make best possible use of local ingredients. To obtain from small-scale suppliers the very best Norway has to offer – Western Norway in particular, but also the country as a whole. An impressive 80-90% of ingredients are sourced from local hunters, fishermen, and small businesses.
The menu changes in step with the various seasons, and at the moment guests can experience everything from langoustines from Bøvågen to organic beef from Larsastova – complemented by a wine and juice selection to suit every palette.
Whereas many restaurants look abroad for inspiration, Bare Restaurant does the opposite: Flavours are creative, and are based on the Norwegian kitchen and produce sourced from the fjord regions.
– Perhaps best described as a special tribute to the beautiful Western Norway, says Ellingsen.
And the days to come will most certainly be busy in the old stock exchange building. Following the Michelin award ceremony, bookings at Bare Restaurant have not stopped coming in.
– We have had enormous amount of enquiries. Requests for tables have gone through the roof, says Ellingsen with a smile.
Although the majority of guests visiting the restaurant are Norwegian, he can see a clear trend:
– Over the past few years, there has been a sharp rise in number of guests from abroad. I believe the Michelin star will attract even more, says Ellingsen, who together with the rest of the Bare team look forward to offering a stellar menu – in the heart of Bergen.