Dining at world's end

Flip Byrnes went out of her way to enjoy an idiosyncratic Arctic meal.

It looked like we were never going to make it. The wooden, reinforced boat navigated a tight iceberg alleyway, ramming her way through the ice. Up ahead was the 50-person settlement of Oqaatsut but between us was 500 metres of solid frozen harbour.

It was no problem for the rugged Danish captain, who dropped an anchor and a ladder. Just like that, we clambered overboard, walked across a frozen ocean under a blazing 10pm sun and into a magnificent dinner.

After being rescued during a month-long polar expedition across the Greenland icecap, I found myself deposited in the small east coast Greenland town of Ilulissat awaiting my team. It was here that I got an invitation by a fisherman to dinner, "just up the road".

"Just up the road", on a coast with no roads, was an hour-long trawler ride to the Oqaatsut settlement and the mythical restaurant named H8.

The unusual name refers to the code given to Oqaatsut during World War II, when each settlement in Greenland bore a letter and numeral on a house roof to guide disoriented pilots. For the past 10 years, the actual building H8 has housed one of the most unexpected, remote, non-Michelin starred fine dining experiences in the world.

The "road" to Oqaatsut from Ilulissat is studded with icebergs, carved from one of the worlds' fastest moving glaciers, the World Heritage-listed Jakobshavn Icefjord. A companion hung overboard with a net. "Fishing?" I asked. "Sort of", came the reply.

Slowing the boat, she managed to score the perfect catch, a block of 10,000 year old ice with a net. It was the flawless black ice - perfect for tea water or cheeky on-board vodka.

Sipping and listening to the crackle of ice formed from a time when dinosaurs walked the earth, we came in sight of Oqaatsut, a collection of candy-coloured smudges in the snow. Fifty souls call this outpost home, sharing a building with running water, a church which also schools five children and, of course, the drawcard, H8, perched on the edge of the frozen harbour, inviting us in with a puff of chimney smoke.


If I'd known about the restaurant at the end of the world, I would have trekked here faster. Warm in temperature and ambience, blonde beams hold the roof and dainty curtained windows frame the vista outside. Inside was a traditional Greenland spread.

There was a smorgasbord of slices of whale and cubes of blubber, smoked salmon, trout, cod eggs and liver, morsels of catfish and an ocean of shrimp, accompanied by German salami and Danish cheese.

H8 is almost a secret and the German owner operator Ingo seems comfortable with silence and mystery.

Ask why he chose here and you will receive a small smile and a shrug.