Venison with chocolate sauce, Lapland fish soup, sugudai: the foods to try in Arctic restaurants

A guide to unusual restaurants of the Arctic and an introduction to the unique Arctic menu

10.09.21 // Local Arctic cuisine is gaining in popularity among tourists and the inhabitants of northern regions. In recent years a number of top-quality restaurants have opened in the Polar region, offering their own unique and vibrant menus alongside traditional Russian and European dishes.

Venison in chocolate sauce with a view of the Yamal capital

Salekhard is one of the booming cities of our country. A large number of modern buildings have sprung up here in recent years. One of the city's landmarks is the cable-stayed Torch bridge over the Shaitanka River. Its single tower is home to the Panorama Restaurant. Its halls take up two floors, and all the walls are made of glass, so you can admire the views of the Yamal capital from any table.

At Panorama, you can sample northern Arctic cuisine, and not just the classics, but also gourmet cuisine. One of the dishes on the menu is Wellington venison. It's a loin fried on all sides in a flaky pastry with mushroom caviar and bacon. Another delicacy from the restaurant is venison with chocolate sauce. The dish became famous all over Russia when it was prepared by John Warren, presenter of the NTV channel's Poedem, poedim! (Let's go, let's eat!). Fish lovers will enjoy muksun, a fish found in the desalinated bays of the Arctic Ocean, in the lakes of the Taymyr, as well as in Siberian rivers and in the Far East.

Another northern fish that can be found on the local menu is broad whitefish, baked with potatoes in a homemade sour cream sauce.

The average cost of a meat dish is RUB 1,000 or more, and of a fish dish is RUB 500–1,000.

Panorama Restaurant in Salekhard

To Murmansk's Tundra for Lapland fish soup

Tundra is a grill bar in Murmansk, but if you check out the variety it offers, you could safely call it a restaurant. The original modern interior, wide panoramic windows, and rich cuisine attract a large number of customers. Realising that local food is going to be in high demand, they have put a special Made in Arctic label on it.

A masterpiece of local cuisine, the Pomorskaya appetizer consists of crab, scallop, smoked wolffish and salmon roe. Another appetiser is a grilled venison salad with spiced pear and lingonberry sauce. The Arctic speciality first course is Lapland fish soup (with cod, salmon and prawns with cream). The seafood offerings include baked in wasabi sauce crab in the shell, halibut in miso sauce and salmon with potato tartare.

Many visitors come to the Tundra specifically to try venison. In addition to the classic grilled reindeer meat, there are other venison dishes such as roasted venison with smoked potatoes, stew with wild mushrooms, tongue and pizza with smoked venison.

The local alcoholic beverages include a northern berry tincture made from cloudberries, cranberries and lingonberries.

The average cost of a meat or fish dish is RUB 500–700.

Tundra Grill Bar in Murmansk

Sugudai at Norilsk Restaurant in Norilsk

Norilsk Restaurant is a big establishment with several dining halls. A highlight of the interior is dozens of old black-and-white photographs of the town the restaurant is named after. You could spend quite a while looking at them, diving deep into the history of Polar Norilsk.

Here you can try the muksun sugudai. Sugudai is a dish of fresh fish eaten by the indigenous peoples of the North; it can be made not only of muksun, but also of bream, whitefish, nelma and other fish. Black pepper, onion, salt, oil, and vinegar are added to the raw fish.

Also on the menu are salmon forschmak, venison roast, and venison liver pâté with cranberry sauce.

The average cost of a main course starts from RUB 1,000.

Norilsk Restaurant

Shulyum — northern shurpa, Kirovsk style

The Severny restaurant in Kirovsk offers charcoal venison with salted lingonberries and leek butter, as well as Murmansk salmon steak, Murmansk cod fricassee and venison dumplings.

The original hybrid of northern and southern cuisine is venison shulyum (shurpa, a rich soup).

Three types of northern fish — salmon, halibut and cod — are used to make Kolsky-style fish soup.

Also on the menu are cold-smoked northern fish snacks such as halibut, butterfish, catfish and lightly salted salmon.

The average cost of a dish is RUB 400–1,000.

Severny Restaurant in Kirovsk

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