Five Icelandic Eateries That Offer Much More Than Just Adventurous Fare

From www.justluxe.com, by Danika Garlotta
Five Icelandic Eateries That Offer Much More Than Just Adventurous Fare

From fermented shark and sheep’s head to sour rams' testicles, it’s fair to say that the type of food Iceland is traditionally associated with can be described as adventurous. These bold dishes aside, what many people outside of Iceland may not realize is that this small island country boasts a culinary scene that could soon be on par with the creativity of New York and San Francisco.

Chefs in Iceland are taking advantage of the area’s abundant wild game, seafood, and fresh local produce to breathe new life into Icelandic cuisine with their highly inventive dishes. From restaurants that give traditional foods a 21st century make over (like The Fish Company) to eateries that fuse local ingredients with Italian traditions (like Kolabrautin), it’s easy to understand why Iceland is fast becoming known as a culinary paradise.

After sampling the best of what Iceland has to offer, we can tell you this: Icelandic cuisine is many things, but one thing it isn’t? Boring. The menus being offered up by the below five restaurants prove it. 

The Fish Company (Fiskfélagi?)Photo Credit: No Destinations
The Fish Company (Fiskfélagið)

The Fish Company doesn’t simply push culinary boundaries, it breaks them (pine needle ice cream anyone?). By deconstructing historic dishes from Iceland, the Fish Company remains true to regional traditions. Notable is the filet of cod with shrimp, apple slices and celery carpaccio; salmon with egg yolk cream, and fennel salad with estragon foam. Our standout favorite from the tasting menu however, was the desert: a soft spruce sponge cake served with Icelandic Skyr sorbet, salted caramel and whey cream, with lemon meringue and oatmeal crumble.

Price Per Person: 8.900 ISK (approx. $70 per person)

Wine Pairing: Varies

Salmon crudo and black radish with hazelnut milk and paPhoto Credit: No Destinations
Kolabrautin

Located on the top floor of the newly constructed Harpa concert hall, Kolabrautin gives guests the opportunity to dine inside the unique building’s award-winning architecture—complete with panoramic views of Reykjavik. With a regional take on traditional Italian fare, this fine dining restaurant will transport you on a culinary tour through Italy.

Our meal was served in traditional Italian style, beginning with a seafood dish of salmon crudo and black radish with hazelnut milk and parsley oil. The pasta course that followed was gnocchi and pecorino served with baked kale, pearl onions, and smoke pine nuts. The meat course was a lamb filet accompanied by slow cooked pork belly with turnips and charred onions. To end the meal, we enjoyed Zabaione, a classic Italian dessert with puff pastry and crème fraîche ice cream. Wine pairings accompanied each dish, featuring an assortment of small production Italian wines that were hand selected by Sommelier and General Manger, Alba.

Price Per Person: 9.100 ISK (approx. $70 per person)

With Wine Pairing: 17.900 ISK (approx. $135 per person)

Warm winter salad of Jerusalem artichokes and ruccolaPhoto Credit: No Destinations
Perlan

Perlan is nestled in a revolving glass dome high on a hill above Reykjavik. Widely regarded by celebrated chefs and locals alike as the best restaurant in the country, Perlan was one of the first fine dining restaurants in the capitol. The polished service, exquisitely prepared food, and sweeping panoramic views all underline Perlan’s status as a world-class restaurant. 

Their tasting menu presents culinary highlights from around the world, each creatively prepared and presented. Our dinner started with a warm winter salad of Jerusalem artichokes and ruccola, followed by ling fish topped with shiitake mushrooms, fennel and onion foam. The main course was lamb filet and lamb shank with drizzles of hazelnut and celeriac purée, perfectly highlighting how the chefs apply modern touches to traditional ingredients. Dessert was Valrhona dulcey with coffee meringue, chocolate mousse, cherry sauce and delicate marshmallows.

Price Per Person: 7.390 ISK (approx. $55 per person)

With Wine Pairing: 13.890 ISK (approx. $105 per person)

Sous-vide arctic charr with green apples and fennelPhoto Credit: No Destinations

LAVA Restaurant at the Blue Lagoon

Built into the side of a towering lava cliff and overlooking the Blue Lagoon, LAVA Restaurant is led by Head Chef Viktor Örn Andrésson, who was the 2014 winner of the Nordic Chef of the Year competition. Their seasonal tasting menu features impressive dishes like arctic char with green apples and fennel, a delicious pan-roasted cod tossed in a creamy langoustine sauce, and perfectly cooked tenderloin served alongside wild mushrooms and Icelandic carrots. To end the meal, a savory dessert of Icelandic Skyr mousse with licorice-chocolate toffee ice cream was served, which stuns with its complex flavors and textures. 

Price Per Person: 9.200 ISK (approx. $70 per person)

Wine Pairing: Varies

Grilled chicken wings marinated in oyster sauce with hoPhoto Credit: No Destinations
The Grill Market (Grillmarkaðurinn)

The Grill Market serves up an inventive mix of dishes accented with distinctly Asian flavors. The chefs maintain close relationships with local farmers, ensuring they serve only the freshest ingredients to their customers. Their eight-course tasting menu is served family style and is uniquely prepared using only fire, smoke, logs and coal. Highlights include the grilled chicken wings marinated in oyster sauce with homemade peanut butter and “popcorn.” Also worth noting is the spinach and mandarin salad with slow cooked duck confit, and the filet of cod with Chorizo that is served with sun dried tomatoes and caramelized onion with couscous.

Price Per Person: 9.400 ISK (approx. $135 per person)

With Wine Pairing: 17.900 ISK (approx. $70 per person)

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