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Oct 3, 2010 11:48 AM

Tromsø - Help please

Going in Jan 2011.
Any information (first or trusted second-hand) please.

Looking particularly for local specialties.

Even better if sounds as good as the following place (in Longyearbyen):

Mary Anne's Polarrigg;
Arctic and Thai food (sometimes combined, such as whale stir-fry). Takeout available (not that that is a priority!).

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  1. No help from Chowhounds, but at least I can provide some info.

    If you are there on a Sunday, your choices are VERY limited. Almost everything is closed INCLUDING hotel dining rooms. Pizza and Doner Kebabs are almost the entire choice. Fancying neither (what have they to do with Norway or the Arctic?), we explored – and choices for local food are well hidden or don’t exist.

    The better options (slightly) are Asian. Thai House (on Storgata) was packed solid, so we couldn’t try that, but we got the last table at Lotus (on Sjøgata). Not the cheapest place around, but most of the food was pretty good. The vegetables, in particular, were cooked perfectly; but avoid the chicken as it seems to be ‘reconstituted’ – looks like boneless chunks, but has no meat texture at all – same consistency as the deli chicken-breast that has clearly been re-formed into a chicken shape.

    We were there early in January, and several places were closed for vacation (and/or renovation), so the best choice seemed to be Arctandria which, indeed had a very interesting menu. A pity that many of the dishes were unavailable – in fact I doubt that they’ve been available in recent history. The explanation was ‘That’s the old menu – we have a new one’ – but the one posted outside was identical to the web menu (which is still on the web as of February) – just a few of the choices we wanted were available. In particular, seal, whale and shark were nowhere to be found. Reindeer is there (it’s EVERYWHERE), and ‘Arctic grouse’ (which I assume is ptarmigan, which was also available in several places). Probably half the people in the place had the same issue – the server was apologising all night long. But nobody walked out, so this strategy certainly seems to be successful! They persuaded us to stay by offering to phone around and find these ingredients at other restaurants (which we could then try another night), but as the main course arrived we were informed that no other places had these either. Food was competent but I still felt duped so won’t recommend Arctandria.

    Other (open) options for fine dining were equally bizarre. Restaurant Aurora (in the Radisson hotel) is a member of a Northern group of restaurants that offers traditional ingredients. That looked promising – except they proudly advertised their specialty was Memphis-style ribs and the rest of the menu was typical of a U.S. Roadhouse style menu (but did have the ubiquitous reindeer). This time we did pass!

    So overall, my recommendation is to try Emma’s (on Kirkegata) – it was closed for holiday and renovation while I was there (it had been on my shortlist), but has to be better than the others!

    2 Replies
    1. re: estufarian

      I was in Tromso two week-ends ago, abd finally got around to eating at Emma's Drommekjokken after having heard great things about it for may years (and not having been able to get a table at previous occasions in Tromso).

      Overall verdict : Not amazed and fairly disapointing. We had a fixed menu with wines. The wines very either boring or did not fit the food. Also got the strong feeling the the waiters knew nothing about wine in general or the wines being served. The food varied in quality. The starter was Cod Cheeks in Batter. Great delicasy, but the cod cheeks were smothered in the extremely thick batter, and the bernaise sauce seemed to be coagulating. Cannot remeber the second course, but it was not more than ok. The main course was lamb, and this was delicious. The desert also did not make a big impression.

      From people in the know (i.e. my wife who regularly spends two weeks there), the new place to go to is Fire Roser. I took a look at their wine list, which was extremely impressive.

      1. re: Viking10

        Thanks for updating this thread. Two posters, both of whom say to try a restaurant they haven't yet tried!
        Must be a record of some kind - and sort of sums up Tromso dining!

        I just remembered, the best thing I had in Tromso was Skyr. Bought at one of the markets, this was my big discovery on a trip to Iceland, and the Norwegian version was pretty good (albeit a little less attractive in texture, being slightly grainy).

        If anybody reading doesn't know Skyr, it's very similar to yoghurt but, technically, is a cheese (and also lower fat). Safest choice is the vanilla if you've never tried it before.

    2. Someone asked for info on Tromsø restaurants in recent Oslo thread.

      Since there hasn't been much discussion on Chowhound about Tromsø other than in this thread here, I thought I'd post some names of restaurants and websites so that hounds can at least look at the websites and try to search for more information about these places from other web resources before arriving in the city. (Caveat: I haven't vetted all the websites, so some of them might turn out to be duds.)

      These come from the Tromsø 2011 guide that is available at the airport and from hotels. The guide actually lists eateries according whether they offer breakfast, lunch, or dinner. I'm not going to bother with the distinction here -- all of these places offer either lunch or dinner -- and I am not including every restaurant listed in the guide:



      Emmas Drømmekjøkken

      Emmas Under

      De 4 Roser


      Fiskekompaniet Sjøsiden



      Skarvens Biffhus


      Thai House Restaurant

      Yonas Pizzeria

      some hotel restaurants
      Pelikanen Restaurant (Scandic Hotel)

      Restaurant Aurora (Radisson Blu Hotel)

      Brassieret (Rica Ishavshotel)

      Astro (Clarion Hotel Bryggen)

      a few other places I either passed by and saw a fair number of customers in, or saw recommendations for:

      Il Mare (portside)

      Peppe's PIzza (portside) -- pizza chain branch

      Egon -- another chain restaurant

      1. Probably everyone reading this thread already knows that restaurant food in Norway is more expensive than in most of the rest of the world.

        Just to give an example of current prices from Tromsø city center (based on perusing menus -- I didn't eat any of these)

        burgers run about 150 NOK (at current exchange rate, about US$27)
        small pizza 110 NOK ($20)
        medium pizza 200 NOK ($37)
        Thai meat, Indian, or Chinese meat or chicken dish 150 - 250 NOK ($28-37)
        Arctandria restaurant's platter of whale, seal, and reindeer 305 NOK ($56)

        4 Replies
        1. re: racer x

          So have you eaten anywhere yet? I think I'm gonna be eating lots of Asian food on this trip which isn't what first comes to mind when you say you're going to Norway. Along with squirreling away food from the breakfast buffet in the hotel, maybe we can get out of there without spending $100 a day on food and drink.

          1. re: Joanie

            No, I didn't eat any restaurant food while I was there. It was just a short visit, and my stomach had been upset, so I couldn't imagine spending so much money when I probably wouldn't have enjoyed it much anyway under the best of circumstances.

            I felt better on the last day and was going to try to eat at Emma's, but their website wouldn't allow me to book a table for one. Maybe if I'd called, they might have made an accommodation, but I hadn't been that enthusiastic about going there anyway, so I didn't bother.

            When I went by Arctandria to look at menus (there are several eateries in that building), the seafood aromas in the air smelled really good, so I was going to try to have dinner there, but I went hiking and ended up getting back too late. (Not sure whether they accept solo diners there either -- didn't ask.)

            1. re: racer x

              Are you saying places don't allow one person to eat dinner? Do nicer restaurants not have bar areas? I know I sat at the bar in a nicer place in Oslo 10 years ago but remember that being not such an easy thing to find in Helsinki a few years ago. And the place I ended up (as my friend was having a hissy fit in the hotel) was more of a waiter station than anything else.

              1. re: Joanie

                I couldn't say. It's just that Emma's website wouldn't allow me to book a table for one. (As a test I even tried making a reservation for several months out, but kept getting a message saying no seats were available. Yet I found that I could have booked a table for two for the very next day.)

                So I don't know if that was just specific to Emma's, or even if it was just specific to their website reservations scheduler.

                I know there are other cities where certain restaurants refuse to accept parties of one. Seoul is an example.

        2. I know this is a bit of a zombie thread, but I was just in Tromso using chowhound for some ideas and scouted out a couple of the recommendations here. Ended up eating at De 4 Roses and it was excellent, for the most part. Would definitely recommend it to any chowhounds looking for a creative take on traditional Norwegian cuisine using local ingredients. Mostly deconstruction and reinterpretation.

          Also looked into Arctandria. Didn't eat there, but sounded like the focus was simple & fresh seafood, including a couple options that struck me as controversial as an American such as whale carpaccio.

          4 Replies
          1. re: rushbikes

            But did Arctandria really have it?
            Much of their supposed menu seems fictional!

            1. re: estufarian

              I can only presume so as it was listed on their printed menu at the restaurant.

              1. re: rushbikes

                The standard response: 'That's an old menu that we haven't replaced'!!!
                - for about 2 years (or more) by my reckoning. It seems to be a come-on as few people will leave after they've been seated,

            2. re: rushbikes

              That place did look great but we ate cheap the two days there.

            3. Am heading to Tromso in a few days, and with a family group of 6 I would like to book some restaurants in advance.

              Does anyone have any more recent experience/ advice to add here by any chance?

              Thank you!

              5 Replies
              1. re: Kavey

                Quick update - I had a tumble and broke my right thumb the day before we were due to fly out. So my husband and I had to cancel and my parents, sister and her fiance went ahead without us. So, no Tromso eating for me!

                1. re: Kavey

                  Hope you are already recovered. And hope your relatives had great views of The Aurora.

                  1. re: estufarian

                    I have a cast on for the moment, and frustrated by quite how much one uses one's thumb for, I'm right handed and it's my right thumb too!

                    They didn't see the aurora the whole week, sadly.

                    Thanks for your kind message.

                    1. re: Kavey

                      I've traveled with a broken wrist, I would have soldiered on altho winter time would be tough.

                      And hearing about their lack of northern lights makes me esp. thankful that we caught them in Finland our first nite out this pasat Oct.

                      1. re: Joanie

                        It's no longer recommended to fly with a cast on, they ask you to have them cut through for flying and re-plastered on arrival - didn't seem straightforward or advisable.

                        Furthermore, as I'm right-handed, I am currently struggling hugely to do up buttons (on trousers etc), do up shoe laces, put on my bra... let alone wash or dry my hair and a hundred other tasks. This in my own home, rather than small hotel room or ship cabin with limited space.

                        Given the cold winter gear I have has quite a few laces and buttons and is bulky and hard to handle, it wasn't practical in any way, just imagining doing a shore trip, popping inside to use a toilet and not being able to undress and redress without help!

                        Plus, on a ship (our trip included a 4 day cruise), I would feel very vulnerable to further injury without my strongest hand available to hold on to handrails when going up and down stairs, or moving about in stormy seas.

                        It was a no-brainer to cancel, to be honest.

                        The doctor also advises that, given where the break is at the base of my thumb's proximal phalange, it was not worth risking further damage and that made total sense to me.

                        People do travel with injuries, but a week's winter holiday in Tromso hardly seemed important enough to me to do so, on this occasion.

                        It's not like I can't go another time, and the cast will be off in another 2 weeks!