The world’s northernmost located gourmet restaurant may be De 4 Roser (The Four Roses) in the Norwegian city of Tromsø, at 69,65 degrees North. Here the sun is shining around the clock 24 hours during the summer season, so fine dining under the Midnight Sun is an absolute opportunity.
De 4 Roser opened its branch in Tromsø in June 2009, after having existed in Harstad, a three hours long boat trip further south, since 1996. At that time, four colleagues from the hotel and restaurant business wanted to show the local people a new and different world of dining out, and the restaurant turned up to be an immediate success. Getting six on the dice in Norway’s biggest daily newspaper a few months after the opening surely helped to convince the locals, and scepticism was changed to pride by the Harstad inhabitants. The name of the restaurant came out of the fact that the premises were upstairs from a flower shop.
Today, only one of the four original founders, Grethe Byberg, is still involved in the business, now together with new co-owner Trond Dahle. Byberg worked at one of the first Norwegian gourmet restaurants, Cats in Oslo, during the 80’s. Later she was Food and Beverage Manager at Nordic Hotel in Harstad. Together with Dahle she decided to establish a restaurant in Tromsø, after being sort of headhunted and persuaded by a large development agency building a new office and apartment complex in the centre of Tromsø. The developers wanted to give this lively university town, also known as the Paris of the Nordic countries, something completely new in fine dining.
The food at De 4 Roser is inspired by the French and Italian kitchens, but is heavily based on local products. The location so far north implies that short-travelled ingredients must be the core of their business. But of course, there is no disadvantage having fish so fresh that it still is beating its tail while delivered at the door by local fishermen. Daily they may offer the chefs at De 4 Roser catfish, halibut, arctic char or cod (skrei). The same applies to reindeer, local grouse or lamb from farms on islands in the area. In the autumn the chefs may go out in the forests surrounding Tromsø to pick wild mushrooms like chanterelles and ceps. The rare, but amazing yellow cloudberry is of course also found in big amounts in the region.
The Head Chef since the opening days has been Tromsø-born Odd Andreas Tjønnås, with working experience from Engø Gård in the south of Norway and Luihn in the town of Kristiansand. His wife Mari-Mette Tjønnås has also served as Chef at De 4 Roser, mainly focusing on the desserts. Chef de Cuisine Lasse Fisker was the Sous Chef for two years before he was promoted in August 2014.
One of the most unusual combinations to be served at De 4 Roser could be a parfait based on the peculiar Norwegian brown cheese. Not to forget foie gras combined with ginger bread during Christmas time or ice-cold cloudberry soup. Another niche product which can be enjoyed at the restaurant is the so-called Gulløye-potet (gold eye potato), a small and very special brand of potato being grown only in Tromsø north of the Polar Circle. The long and cold growing season makes it quite small and indeed very special in taste.
Like in Harstad, De 4 Roser in Tromsø is situated on the first floor, with a charming small café on the ground floor. The restaurant manager, Trine Eilertsen, was working downstairs when being offered the job one floor up. Previously she had worked at Restaurant Solvold in Sandefjord (Odd Ivar Solvold won bronze in Bocuse d’Or in 1997) and Emma’s Drømmekjøkken in Tromsø, after getting her certificate as a professional waiter at De 4 Roser in Harstad.
The interior in restaurant De 4 Roser is classic modern, with eye-catching photos by the renowned photografer Pål Laukli on the walls. But it is the sight out through the large windows that really makes the evening extra spectacular. Here you can enjoy an amazing meal while looking out on the Midnight Sun in the summer months, and on strong winds, rain and snowstorms during wintertime.
Written by Ulf