We didn’t know what to expect from Icelandic cuisine, especially since we heard all about the traditional dishes such as whole sheep’s head and rotten shark. I was so pleasantly surprised to find that it had a fresh, international cuisine that offered lots of vegetables, fish, and game. I chose three outstanding dining experiences to share below. Happy reading!
Lunch on our first day was at Café Paris. They had a pretty extensive menu with local specialties which include lots of lamb and seafood. I had the smoked salmon and bagel which was enormous and delicious. I was barely able to eat half; luckily hubby was still hungry and helped me out. The prices were good, the café was very cozy, and I definitely look forward to going back!
Just a note that Reykjavik has a big café culture, which is perfect for getting in out of the cold for a coffee or even a mid-afternoon glass of wine.
For my birthday dinner I chose tapas- a fairly unusual choice for Iceland some might say, but one of my favorite types of food and ways of eating. We went to Tapas Barinn, a dimly lit, basement restaurant with lovely old wood, candlelight, and a long bar. Their menu was huge, and we took our time reviewing it. Again they had some i-n-t-e-r-e-s-t-i-n-g local specialties. . . puffin or whale anyone? I can be adventurous at times, but I must say neither of these sounded appetizing. We decided on lobster tails baked in garlic, oven baked tomatoes with pesto, grilled giant scallops with tomatoes, and patatas bravas, one of my absolute favorites at tapas bars worldwide! While waiting we were served delicious soft bread with a black olive tapenade. Being the olive fiend that I am, I loved this, and after a long day of walking, I must say I had more than a couple of pieces. Our tapas were amazing with the standout easily being the oven baked tomatoes, which I am planning on trying to make at home very soon.
A Naestu Grosum
On our final night in Reykjavik it was snowing massive snowflakes, and for awhile we pondered staying in and eating toast for dinner. Luckily our more adventurous sides won out, and we decided to try the much talked about vegetarian restaurant, A Naestu Grosum. Walking there and getting covered head to toe in snowflakes was an experience in itself. . . a very fun and romantic one! The city was quiet, the lights were twinkling, and we were thoroughly relaxed from walking, spa-ing, and breathing in the super fresh air. The cold was forgotten the second we walked into the small restaurant space. The warmth of the room, and the warmth of the smells- curry, garlic, peanuts – instantly filled me with joy. We were able to choose our own seat, and once settled went up to the counter to order. They make two main dishes, it seems, per day, plus salad, grains and some veggies. I got a Vietnamese peanut vegetable dish, which was a colorful bounty of every veg I could think of . My meal came with a mixed salad, and I chose the yogurt dressing. YUM! They also sell a limited selection of wine, and we had some red which further helped to warm us up. I left stuffed, happy, and ready for the walk in the snow back to our lovely apartment!