Land of Fire and Ice: Nourish (Part 1)
Every dish I ate in Iceland far exceeded my expectations. From casual restaurants to fine dining, each dish was made with fresh ingredients that were uniquely prepared. In short, the food on this island nation does not disappoint. Below are some great spots to try in Iceland.
Reykjavik Kitchen is a family owned and run restaurant in the center of the city. Their speciality is fresh, Icelandic meat and fish. Before arriving in Iceland, I had read that the fish and lamb are exceptional. I was determined to try both.
The restaurant provided complimentary bread with whipped butter. I must say that the bread in Iceland is outstanding. No matter the restaurant or type (rye, sourdough, dinner rolls...), I was impressed with the quality everywhere I went.
On that note, going to a bakery in Iceland is a must do. I would recommend Braud & Co, a very well known artisan bakery in the city.
Everything, from the loaves of fresh baked bread to the pastries, is amazing! If you can find it, try some hverabrauð, an Icelandic speciality. Hverabrauð dough is placed in a stainless steel pot and buried under Iceland's black sand for 24 hours. During that time, the dough is baking underground in the heat of the geothermal springs. The result? A golden-brown, moist, perfectly cooked loaf of rye bread.
Sorry for the bread digression. Back to Reykjavik Kitchen. I looked over the menu and decided on the lamb, and...well...WOW!
Lamb ribeye with pumpkin and potato gratin, parsnip chips, carrots, charred romaine lettuce and truffle butter.
Icelandic lamb is completely unique in flavor. First, it is exceptionally tender. The lambs roam freely in extensive pastures and are fed a diet of wild grasses, moss, herbs and berries. Those flavors came through in every tasty morsel. This dish was incredible.
Having experienced the lamb that Iceland is so well-known for, my next goal was to try Iceland's other meat speciality, the fish. The place to do that was Messinn.
The name "Messinn" is derived from the term “mess deck,” which in Icelandic, refers to where the chef onboard a fishing vessel cooks. Messinn is a small, seafood restaurant that specializes in the freshest fish cooked in a pan or skillet, so that is exactly what I ordered.
Plaice with chili, tomatoes, parsley, lemon and garlic butter.
The fish comes to you still sizzling in the pan. I love that sound.
Simple ingredients and perfectly cooked, fresh, fish. They nailed it.
Since Iceland is known for the freshness of its fish, I decided to try it in its purest form - sushi!
Sushi Social is the perfect name for this restaurant, which not only has great sushi, but a wonderful social vibe as well. The restaurant is bustling with activity from the sushi bar to the waiting area, where conversation is lively, and the food is wonderful.
Hanging from the ceiling are hundreds of colorful, origami birds. Some fly free and some are in bright, red, chandelier bird cages.
Another chandelier is made from a string of bulbs surrounded by a collection of kissing dolls.
Wagyu beef nigiri
The beef was sprinkled with maldon sea salt which makes an appearance in most Icelandic dishes. This mineral-fresh sea salt is produced using energy from geothermal hot springs in Iceland.
Torched laxa, bleikja, and gullsporoi.
Seared salmon, arctic char, and yellowtail nigiri.
Whether it's Icelandic or Japanese fish preparation, this country does fish very, very well.
Lava restaurant is built into a lava cliff with views of the famous Blue Lagoon.
The dining room overlooks black lava rocks, covered in bright green moss, and the blue waters of the lagoon, creating beautiful contrasts.
Rye and sourdough breads with whipped butter and maldon sea salt.
There's that amazing, Icelandic bread again. And this whipped butter with maldon sea salt was divine.
Blue ling, fresh from the Grindavik harbor, with apples, small potatoes, hollandaise and fennel.
This was another Icelandic fish dish that was perfectly cooked. It was crisp on the outside and the inside melted in my mouth.
Hold tight. There is one more Iceland post to come. I saved the best for last.