Restaurant Lofotmat is located in Henningsvær, a fishing village in Northern Norway made up of several islands connected by bridges, like pearls on a string. The restaurant provides a fresh, local, and culinary experience unlike no other.

Lofotmat was started in 2010 by master chef Siv-Hilde Lillehaug and her husband, Geir Robertsen, as a delicatessen with only three small tables for simple food services. Lillehaug, who is the manager and head chef at Restaurant Lofotmat, explains that the goal of the establishment was to promote and showcase, to locals and visitors alike, the amazing raw foods that Henningsvær has to offer. “Our local area is a pantry full of rich and diverse foods,” she says.

Lofotmat: A small restaurant with a big heart

Siv Hilde.

With guests enjoying what Lillehaug and her delicatessen had to offer, the demand for more space, flavours, and services rose. In 2015, five years after its launch, Lofotmat finally opened the doors to its new restaurant, Restaurant Lofotmat. Four years later, Lillehaug explains that they wanted to take the restaurant and food to a completely new level – and they scrapped the lunch service.

Lofotmat: A small restaurant with a big heart

“We decided that by focusing on dinner, we could further develop and better the culinary experience,” she says. “By sticking to evening services only, we also hoped we’d give visitors another reason to stay an additional day or two in Henningsvær.”

Lofotmat: A small restaurant with a big heart

Today, the restaurant has become one of the top restaurants in Northern Norway, boasting excellent reviews and a great reputation. Lillehaug credits the talented staff they’ve had at Restaurant Lofoten over the years for the restaurant’s development and success. “It’s become more and more difficult to access a qualified workforce in the wake of the pandemic. Because the quality of our service and food cannot be compromised, we’ve switched over to smaller dinner services so we can continue to offer the same excellent standard we have, even with fewer staff members,” says the head chef.

Lofotmat: A small restaurant with a big heart

Locally sourced for an international audience

A cluster of islands in Lofoten, Henningsvær bears witness to not only majestic rolling waters, but also forests brimming with berries, mushrooms, and other rich flavours. Whether it’s from beneath the blue waves that softly ebb and flow, or from the trees, Restaurant Lofotmat uses the natural resources to hand to create culinary experiences with an international twist.

Lofotmat: A small restaurant with a big heart

“We give our guests a unique experience by combining fresh, local foods with techniques from all over the world. We find inspiration from our travels, nationally and internationally, and bring them back home to our own little kitchen,” says Lillehaug.

In addition to their usual menu, Restaurant Lofotmat also offers a five-course menu that is continuously updated, based on what’s available. Guests are free to order the full five courses, or individual pieces. “We love spoiling our guests – sometimes with complimentary appetizers or stories about our dishes,” says Lillehaug. Whether guests are from Lofoten, the rest of the country, or anywhere else in the world, they’ll be welcomed with opened arms and excellent flavours. “At the restaurant, our customers are our guests, and we treat them to the very same experience they would get if they came to our homes – the best food, flowers, polished glasses and cutlery, and the very best service we can offer,” she says.

Lofotmat: A small restaurant with a big heart

A small restaurant with a large heart

Lillehaug says that the staff at Restaurant Lofotmat truly pride themselves on their service. Offering an almost familial relationship with its guests, the kitchen allows visitors to peer in and watch the cooking process, and spark a conversation with their chef. Despite being a small venue, the restaurant has a big, beating heart.

“We share our knowledge and experience, as well as love for the culinary art, through food and service,” Lillehaug says. “We are the only ones who do what we do like we do, and I’m proud of that.” She adds that she’s proud of the staff’s ability to constantly strive for bigger and better, because they are fiercely loyal to their restaurant and craft, as well as their local area.

“We work with local farmers, suppliers, fishermen, and butchers. All baked goods, we bake here in our own kitchens, and we harvest a lot from local nature ourselves too,” she says. Along with ‘locality’, Lillehaug says Restaurant Lofotmat’s keywords are ‘humility’ and ‘honesty’. Their hearts beat for their local area and their customers; they take no shortcuts in their process and all the food is being made from scratch. “And most importantly, no one leaves our premises hungry,” she adds with a wink.

Lofotmat: A small restaurant with a big heart

Instagram: @restaurant_lofotmat
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