The Great Icelandic Culinary Adventure

In this article the focus is on the countryside and the diamonds out there, places worth putting a red cross next to for a great culinary experience
May 23, 2018
Kári Gunnlaugsson

“You know something is
happening but you don´t know what it is”, sang the great bard and the phrase
pretty well describes the phenomenon that is modern Icelandic cuisine. With
little or no tradition to speak of, access to a wide selection of quality local
ingredients and a few very serious chefs hell bent on making their own culinary
history. Just last year the first Michelin star to arrive in Iceland found its
home in downtown Reykjavik restaurant Dill. And there are in fact a handful of
restaurants contributing to the city´s growing reputation as a foodie
destination. However, in this article the focus is on the countryside and some
of the diamonds out there, places worth putting a red cross next to for a great
culinary experience. There are of course many other places out there but these
are simply a few picked out for being extraordinary.

Going clockwise heading north from
Reykjavik. About an hour out is Borgarnes and in the settlement museum (which
is great destination in itself for a bit of viking history) there is a lovely
restaurant with emphasis on the freshest locally sourced ingredients. An
excellent choice for lunch. If you are doing the amazing Snæfellsnes peninsula
check out Restaurant Narfeyrarstofa in Stykkishólmur right next to the
harbour. And if your journey takes you to the west fjords then a stop at
Restaurant Tjöruhúsið in Ísafjörður would be well worth it for some great
seafood. The north has also been checking in with Rub23 and Strikið in
Akureyri, also a little further north in Siglufjörður the Restaurant Hannes Boy
is a another good stop. Heading further east along the northern coastline a
great stop is in Mývatn at the Kaffi Dimmuborgir with a fantastic view of the
area. Once you reach the east of Iceland there are a few choices but to name
just two truly magnificent foodie destinations then there is the lunch buffet
at Skriðuklaustur, one of best locally sourced menus in Iceland plus
interesting history, and the incomparable Norðaustur Sushi Bar & Grill in
Seyðisfjörður which has been getting some serious international attention and
for a good reason too. On the border between east and south lies Höfn which
sports the great Restaurant Pakkhús. Driving along the south coast westwards to
Reykjavík there some good stops by the roadside but going for the good stuff
the two names that come up are the Restaurant at Fosshotel Hnappavellir, and
one of our all time favourites Tryggvaskáli in Selfoss which truly a must for
any serious foodie exploring the country.

Find out in any given place what their
specialties are and of course the Icelandic lamb is a local favorite and
pretty much qualifies as being organic after spending most of its time feasting
on highland herbs in the midnight sun. Also check out any local seafood, the
recepies for langoustine soup/chowder are about as many as there are kitchens
in the country and fish should be about as fresh as it gets whether you go for
the cod, the wolffish, the monkfish or the flounder. Most lakes, rivers and
streams in Iceland have either trout or salmon, so there´s another local
ingredient to be aware of.

Maybe the big thing about eating in
Iceland in 2018 is the absolute freedom of the chefs from any serious tradition
and therefore there is a melting pot of glorious feasting just simmering away
with great ideas and amazing dishes.

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