It’s hard to imagine that a country with a population of only around 335,000 brings some of the most sustainable and pure ingredients to the table. We visited Iceland in November in hopes to catch the Northern Lights and few Icelandic horses, but we had a few restaurants on our radar also.
Iceland is surrounded by the ocean, so it’s no surprise that the Icelandic cuisine consists of seafood. Lamb and dairy are also popular in the Icelandic cuisine. Through our food journey in Iceland, we came to find that a lot of the food we ate was preserved either by pickling, drying or smoking.
We want to share with you the restaurants that we visited and why you should visit them on your trip to Iceland…
Kopar, Geirsgata 3, 101 Reykjavík Cuisine: Icelandic
What we ate: We all went for the Fish Festival, which is a two-course meal starting off with a gorgeous rich and creamy shellfish soup with rock crab, followed by the catch of the day prepared with a modern and exciting twist every day.
The soup was super tasty, with a strong taste of shellfish, but not overwhelming. It was creamy, but light at the same time. The catch of the day came with potatoes, cauliflower, pepper in batter and pickled onions. The fish was fresh and with the addition of the pickled onions gave it a lovely sharp taste.
WOW factor: If you’re looking to experience Icelandic cuisine at it’s finest with amazing views out onto the harbour, then Kopar is your best bet!
Forréttabarinn, Nýlendugata 14, 101 Reykjavík
What we ate: From their special Christmas menu, we chose the duck leg confit prepared with parsnip puree, pomegranate, kale, honey glazed roots and orange sauce. From the à la carte menu, we went for the hot smoked salmon with potato rosti and wasabi yogurt and the toasted Artic char and seared scallops with creamed local barley and green asparagus.
All three dishes tasted fresh and had unique ingredients mixed together. The duck leg was prepared well and was paired with some more picked onions to give it that added sweetness. The barley that came with the Artic char and scallops, was creamy and very savoury.
The restaurant has a laid back homely decor with its own Icelandic style, ideal for a bite to eat with friends. It’s only a short walk away from the harbour and a nice welcoming refuge from the chilly weather we experienced.
WOW factor: Unique cocktails featuring ingredients such as basil leaves and thyme.
Matarkjallarinn, Aðalstræti 2, 101 Reykjavík
Cuisine: Icelandic brasserie
What we ate: We had their Surf and Turf menu which featured slow cooked cod with green asparagus, smoked lamb and langoustine-hollandaise, a steak plank and langoustine with beef, lamb and pork and a chocolate Lion bar with raspberries and hot salted caramel for dessert.
The cod had a tangy taste from being cooked in lemon, but it was mild and not too tart. The langoustine-hollandaise with the lamb gave this dish a smoky taste to finish. The steak plank had quite a bit going on in terms of all the different meats, but it was small cuts of each, so it didn’t make it too sickening. The whole dish was flavourful and had lots of lovely features.
The Lion bar was the perfect finish to a very satisfying meal. It was dense and moist in texture, like a fudge brownie. The salted caramel gave it a richness and the raspberries made it tart and ripe.
Matarkjallarinn aka Food Cellar is a moodily lit, plush restaurant with live piano music and a nice atmosphere. It doesn’t look like much from the outside, but I particularly liked the decor in this restaurant, with its rustic cellar style look. This is a really lovely restaurant for groups and couples.
WOW factor: Live music with astounding food.
Hamborgarbúllan, Geirsgötu 1, 101 Reykjavík Cuisine: Burgers
What we ate: Cheese burgers with chocolate milkshakes.
Comfort food galore at Hamborgarbúllan aka Tommi’s Burger Joint. We had three deliciously creamy chocolate milkshakes that were just the right texture. They also have an espresso milkshake which we were told was meant to be amazing. The menu here is pretty simple, so we went for the beef burgers cooked medium with lettuce, tomato, cheese, ketchup and mayo. The burgers weren’t too greasy and went down very well. We tried three sauces with our fries; burger sauce, Bearnaise and chipotle mayo. All three sauces complimented the chips that we couldn’t pick a favourite if you asked.
The restaurant is located right in the middle of the street, however you could miss it, because it doesn’t have the best signage. The decor is quirky and draws on American diner style.
WOW factor: The milkshakes are made with Icelandic ice cream that is imported to their UK restaurants. The burgers are made by a top quality butchers in the UK.
Words by LDN AT HEART