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Stay: a hidden gem of a restaurant in Kristiansand that Norwegians prefer to keep for themselves

What springs to mind when you contemplate Kristiansand? Presumably, naught at all. When I disclosed my intention to move there to my friends, their countenances remained quite... devoid of expression. Ah yes, Kristianstad (SE), indeed. Delightful. Moreover, one friend who had planned to visit me, in an unfortunate twist of fate, mistakenly bought a ticket to Kristiansund; a difference of one solitary letter, yet an entirely different place 400 kilometers away. To a certain extent, it is comprehensible. With the exception of the summer months, Kristiansand is rather introverted and appears unconcerned with the rest of the world, as the world seems equally unconcerned with Kristiansand.

The summer entirely transforms the city's character though. Norwegian, German, Danish, and Dutch tourists populate the numerous terraces in great numbers, while multiple festivals concurrently take place. However, once you venture beyond the city center, tourists are virtually non-existent.

This brings me to the subsequent point. Situated approximately 20 kilometers from the city center and merely 5 kilometers from Kristiansand Airport, lies an extraordinarily unique piece of land, nestled alongside a vigorously flowing river, where scarcely any tourist ever treads. And upon this parcel of land stands an ancient manor farmhouse and Michelin-star restaurant; Boen Gaard.

Primarily a restaurant, it also offers accommodations. I first discovered it in 2018, a birthday surprise. In the heart of Kristiansand, I was instructed to embark upon a taxi van (later discovering that Boen Gaard has a deal, allowing one to avail oneself of the taxi at a fraction of the price, thus reducing the threshold). It being mid-February, visibility was severely hindered. Departing from the city center, we traversed the highway, ostensibly heading towards what I presumed to be the airport. However, we swiftly veered right onto a narrow country lane. Subsequently, I discerned, in the distance, an illuminated driveway adorned with torches. Our destination had been reached.

Upon entering, I found myself cascading from one astonishment to another. The initial surprise was that we were the sole two patrons, indicating that a lone chef, a solitary dishwasher, and a solitary waiter had roused themselves solely for our presence that day. The second surprise was the fact that, despite residing in Kristiansand for four years, I had never heard of this place, undeniably the finest restaurant in Kristiansand. Moreover, one steps into a sort of oasis emanating 17th-century grandeur (despite Boen Gaard's royal history stretching back even further). The attending waiter graciously provided us with a comprehensive tour of the entire edifice, thus augmenting the entire experience.

Boen Gaard prides itself, almost without exception, on locally sourced produce, with the salmon even caught directly from the river coursing alongside the farmhouse. The dishes are unpretentious yet exquisitely presented, embodying honesty. Furthermore, the staff possesses an exceptional wealth of knowledge regarding the ingredients employed. The wine selection, too, appears to have been painstakingly curated. Nonetheless, it remains a source of amusement to hear a Norwegian utter the name of a French vineyard; Buuurrgooenge.

Be that as it may, discourse concerning food never truly captures its essence. Instead, ensure to reserve a table with accommodations long ahead of your visit to Kristiansand and experience it yourself. It constitutes an unforgettable experience that irrevocably alters one's perception of Norwegian gastronomy. And have them inform you about the taxi-deal.

Boen Gaard really is a hidden gem in Kristiansand that Norwegians rather keep for themselves, in which they almost succeeded.

Going there? Read the piece I wrote on what I would do having to spend one day in Kristiansand.


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