It’s not because you’re at the end of the world, and there’s only one supermarket in the whole town, and (nearly) everything has to be flown in from the mainland, that you have to survive on fish, berries and outdoor meals. The supermarket offers a variety of food and there are several delicious restaurants in town. Longyearbyen has no cuisine of its own. As there is nearly no locally produced food, and everything (locally caught fish, whale meat, seal, reindeer …) is brought in from the continent, you’ll mostly eat continental and Norwegian meals. Or you can enjoy Thai specialties in the Thai restaurant, or make your own Pad Thai with Thai ingredients from the tax free supermarket 🙂 ). Yes, I managed to use 4 times the word Thai in one sentence in a blog about an arctic place (I’ll tell more about that later …)
Most of the restaurants are based in one of the hotels & guesthouses or located in the main shopping street. Barentz Pub and Spiseri & Brasserie Nansen (Radisson Blu), Vinterhagen (at Mary-Ann’s Polarriggen, with outdoor bar around a large wooden hot tub), Funktionaermessen Restaurant (Funken Spitsbergen Hotel), Classic Pizza (with the northernmost kebab!); Fruene Coffee and winebar (in the shopping center). And a little bit more outside the city center, between Nybyen and Longyearbyen, a white house stands alone in the middle of a field. It’s Huset, one of the most famous buildings in town. Wine lovers will adore Scandinavia’s largest wine cellar, party animals can go wild in the nightclub and according to a lot of people and travel guides they have the best meals in town. Don’t forget the different bars and cafés in town where you can impress people with your outdoor adventures and your encounters with polar bears.
During our stay in Longyearbyen, we prepared outdoor meals and used the kitchen in our guesthouse. But of course, we also wanted to get a taste of the local kitchen. A journey isn’t complete as long as you haven’t tried some local dishes. The first time we tried Kroa (part of Basecamp’s Trappers Lodge) was in the middle of the afternoon, after our morning hike. We hadn’t eaten and as we were getting hungry, we started looking for a place where they still serve meals in the afternoon. We had read about this cool restaurant with an adorable setting where you can eat pizzas and snacks all day long. As this was also the first restaurant we encountered in Longyearbyen (it’s at the beginning of the shopping street when you’re coming from the Nybyen side), we entered the place and we immediately felt home.
Kroa is built out of wood from the old coal mines and from parts of a building from the Russian settlement Barentsburg. Even though there is a lot of wood, the place doesn’t look heavy or dark. Lenin is watching you enjoying your catch of the day, the chef’s specialty (Kokkefrokost), a pizza or maybe seal or whale (depending on the offer). The pictures next to the bar take you back Spitsbergen’s trappers’ and mining history. The huge windows give a nice view on the snowcovered surroundings when you’re drinking a cup of coffee or a hot chocolate. The staff is very friendly and nice, the prices are reasonable (in Norwegian norms) and the food … The food is delicious! Some sources say that the food in Kroa equals the dishes in Huset. And that is saying a lot. Historical references, the arctic details and the feeling of a trapper’s cabin give it that little extra. After our afternoon pizza/Kokkefrokost break, we wanted to try the à-la-carte menu. My boyfriend and I immediately booked a table for Friday night (highly recommended, especially in the weekends) and we had a very enjoyable evening: the night was falling, it was freezing outside, and we had one of the most yummy meals in this tremendously cosy place.
The map of today