Facing the icebergs, the northernmost starred restaurant in the world

ILIMANAQ: Far beyond the Arctic Circle, on the 69th parallel north, two-Michelin-star Faroese chef Poul Andrias Ziska has laid down pots and pans in Greenland, opening the territory’s only award-winning ice cream restaurant.

It is in Ilimanaq, a hamlet of 50 inhabitants hidden behind the icebergs and accessible only by boat or helicopter, that we find since mid-June « KOKS », the most northern starred that the famous gastronomic guide has ever known.

Facing the sea, the restaurant, transferred from the Faroe Islands with its precious stars, is housed in a narrow black wooden house, one of the oldest in Greenland. The service is limited to around twenty people, which accentuates the timeless character of the experience.

On this harsh land where agriculture is virtually absent except in the south some 1,000 km away, the chef is experimenting with local production, including whales, not to mention seaweed.

« We try to focus as much as possible on Greenlandic products, from halibut to snow crabs, musk ox and snow hen (ptarmigan), different herbs and berries, » Ziska told AFP.

From the pontoon where visitors sometimes have the chance to admire the whales, the team can also directly fish for capelin.

Until a few months ago, the young chef with round glasses ran KOKS at his home in the Faroe Islands, where he won his first star in 2017, his second in 2019, and won the title of the most isolated Michelin in the world. , in a lost corner of the archipelago.

He plans to return there for a permanent installation, but explains that he has always wanted to rub shoulders with another territory in the far north of Europe, « Iceland, Greenland or even Svalbard ».

To finally choose this place located one hour by sailboat from Ilulissat, the third city of Greenland famous for its huge glacier.

Local products

« We just thought it was better, funnier to do something completely different, before moving into our permanent restaurant, » he told AFP.

With twenty dishes, the long menu delights the taste buds for some 2,100 crowns (280 euros), excluding drinks.

The young chef thus serves a large whole wing of ptarmigan: the meat is threaded at the end on a skewer with mushrooms and reindeer fat. Or a sweet cream made from limpets, a mollusk, served directly in the shell.

« The menu is exquisite and takes you back and forth to the far north, » judge David Gualandris, a charmed visitor. « Whale bites, freshly caught fish and seafood and elaborate desserts, everything is bursting with flavor ».

An unexpected landmark for a gourmet restaurant, Ilimanaq – in Greenlandic +place of hopes+ – is home to a small community of 50 souls living in picturesque wooden houses, next to hiking trails and… a luxury hotel, an ideal stopover for wealthy tourists in search of new frontiers.

According to Ziska, customers in Greenland are different.

“There are a lot of people whose number one priority is visiting Greenland, and second they are visiting the restaurant,” he says.

« In the Faroe Islands, we mainly had people who came to eat in our restaurant, then of course to visit, » explains the 30-year-old.

In addition to adventurers already seduced by the harsh landscapes, the Greenlandic tourist office wants to bet on gourmet travellers.

« The unique combination of high-level gastronomy, the inherent sustainability of North Atlantic cuisine and the characteristic nature and resources of Disko Bay (…) is exactly what we are looking for for reach a certain type of holidaymaker », explained the director of Visit Greenland, Hjörtur Smárason, when announcing the installation of KOKS.

A long-unrecognized destination, Greenland – a territory four times the size of France – welcomed more than 100,000 tourists in 2019, almost double its population, before the Covid cut the momentum.

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