The food in Tromsø feels as fresh as the city’s numerous outdoor activities. Restaurant SMAK is only one of several eateries with a menu based on local ingredients.
“Having a high-quality restaurant this far north has its challenges, but we see opportunities”, says Espen Ramnestedt who runs Smak together with his wife Eva-Linda. Smak has earned a place on the respected restaurant handbook White Guide Nordic and seats only 24 guests.
In the city of Tromsø, world famous as a hub for brave Arctic explorers, proper meals using the best local produce have always been crucial.
Eva-Linda likes to spend time explaining the origins of the local ingredients to her restaurant guests. “I want to share the enthusiasm of our local producers.”
“We use the old techniques and traditions that have been passed on for generations, and serve true north Norwegian dishes, the tastes of my childhood, with a modern touch”, Espen explains.
At this fine dining spot, you can expect delicacies such as fish soup with lobster, rosefish and carrots, potato waffle with vendace roe (“løyrom” in Norwegian), along with a neat use of prize-winning local cheese and sour cream.
You also have Presis Tapas, the versatile Bardus Bistro, the internationally oriented Kitchen & Table, and Compagniet, which claims to be the city’s oldest restaurant. In addition, people rave about the new food court Mathallen Tromsø, known for its tasty seafood and relaxed vibe.
And, because everything from seafood to vegetables grows slower in the climate of the Arctic than in other parts of the world, it all tastes fantastic. The Tromsøya island is a treasury of high-quality fresh ingredients and has inventive and skilled chefs to make the most of it.
“The scenery surrounding the city is overwhelming”, adds Eva-Linda of Restaurant Smak.
The food culture mirrors the city’s strong heritage of explorers. From the 1850s Tromsø became a hub for hunting expeditions and scientific exploring of the Arctic and was soon called “The gateway to the Arctic” and “The Paris of the north” because of its international vibe.
“Even when you’re in the middle of the city, the mountains are so close you can almost reach out and touch them”, says Espen of Smak, before heading off to a nearby farm where ingredients for this evening’s dinners are waiting.
Find more inspiration on Tromsø’s official website.
More and more restaurants in Tromsø take advantage of the abundance of local fresh ingredients all year round. Expect to find everything from reindeer to shellfish on the menus at places that offer relaxed fine dining.
Go for cod served with the season’s local ingredients, shellfish, fish burgers or fishcakes, or pick and choose between sashimi and sushi à la carte. Get a table next to Skirri’s aquarium or by a window at Arcantandria or Fiskekompaniet with views of the sea and the vibrant street life.
The city’s main street is full of small independent cafes serving excellent coffee like Solid, Lugar 34, and Kafé Globus, but also nearby places like Art Café, Svermeri, and Kaffebønna.
Get into the local mood and mindset by asking for an Arctic seaweed cocktail, that happens to be the signature drink of Bardus bar. Try a locally brewed beer you didn’t know existed at any place in the city, or just grab a glass of wine with good friends.
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