Spitsbergen, Svalbard, Norway
ABOVE: You may get an opportunity to eat polar bear in Longyearbyen--but then again, a polar bear may get the chance to eat you.
Restaurants in Longyearbyen
You might expect Longyearbyen to be a gastronomic desert, but you'd be wrong: The two leading hotels have upscale restaurants that wouldn't be out of place in Oslo or Bergen.
Check the "Food and Beverage" section of Spitsbergen Travel's Web site for descriptions of the Brasseri Nansen at the Radisson SAS Polar Hotel Spitsbergen and the Funktionaermessen Restaurant ("Employee's Mess") at the Spitsbergen Hotel, which has come a long way since the days when it served as a dining hall for coal-mine managers and office staff. Both hotels also have bars where you can get snacks or light meals along with your drinks.
I had excellent and imaginatively prepared meals at both hotels' restaurants during my stay. I can also testify that the Radisson SAS bar serves great cold sandwiches on baguette rolls, and the club sandwich that I had in the Spitsbergen Hotel's bar was a full-fledged meal with a roasted chicken breast, egg, bacon, tomatoes, and other items between slabs of bread with French fries on the side. (It would have been the perfect finish to a day of snowmobiling; for me, it was merely a cure for hunger and jet lag.)
Kroa, a.k.a. Steakers Svalbard, is a fully licensed bar and restaurant in the center of town. It's owned by Basecamp Spitsbergen and often has Arctic specalties on the menu.
Mary-Ann's Polarrigg has the Shang-Po-lar Dining Room and Winter Garden, where you can preorder lunch or dinner at Mary-Ann's Dahle's centrally located guesthouse.
In the Lompensenteret shopping mall downtown, Classic Pizza is a relatively low-cost option for dining in or pizza delivery to your hotel. Other restaurants in Lompensenteret include Kafé Busen (lunch and dinner at moderate prices) and the Fruene Kaffe & Vinbar (lunch at midday, wine bar and dinner from late afternoon and into the evening).
Huset is off the tourist track: It's a long bike ride or walk up the valley, on the opposite bank of the river from Nybyen. Huset's services include a café, a restaurant, a nightclub, a 25,000-bottle wine cellar, and a tax-free kiosk where you can buy tobacco, souvenirs, and cook-at-home meat from Argentina.
If you have access to a refrigerator or kitchen during your stay, you can save money on lunch and the occasional dinner by purchasing groceries at Svalbardsbutikken (see next page).
Finally, if you're looking for a unique apéritif or nightcap, choose from the vast liquor selection at Karls-Berger Pub, which offers everything from an 1802 cognac to rare malt whiskies and rums.
Next page: Shopping in Longyearbyen
Photo copyright © Heike Mirabella.
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