Published September 21, 2012
Fish Company (Fiskfélagið) is that really good seafood place you’ve heard so much about that is not Fish Market (Fiskmarkaðurinn). Everyone has gotten the two mixed up at some point so here’s a quick primer. Both restaurants share a liking for fish and a disliking for definite articles in the English language. Fish Market is on two floors, with an Asian-inspired menu and is the tropical sister restaurant to Grill Market (Hrefna Sætran helms both). Fish Company is below ground level, with that nice little pond thing in front and has a mostly Icelandic-themed cuisine, but likes to divide the menu by the main ingredient’s country of origin. I hope that clears things up.
If you are an Icelander born before the 1980s, then prepare to be subtly prodded into a k-hole of nostalgia when you enter Fish Company. The brushed copper, the perfectly pitched ‘60s and ‘70s mood music that would have been perfectly at home in a Wes Anderson movie, the mustard-coloured seats and vintage commemorative plates celebrating Icelandic municipalities to hold your bread. But I can’t say it ever feels too ornate or unwelcoming—the kitchen is open and has a window facing the street (they also have a live webcam of their kitchen on their website) and the rough stone walls are covered with a rainbow of post-its that guests are encouraged to write on. Although they probably should have left it at that—I’m not sure it was necessary to include another wall with multilingual writing done in a marker pen or a third wall layered with instant photos.
We decided on three starters to share: the sushi plate (2,800 ISK), the tuna with vanilla, parsnip purée and pineapple (3,300 ISK), and the whale with peaches, jalapeno and crispy oatmeal (2,700 ISK).
The whale was ultra rare and flash seared. The watermelon was lightly marinated and the peaches were fresh and played off nicely with the meat. It was excellent and even my wife, who normally doesn’t like whale, thought so.
The tuna was another savoury plate with fruit for balance. This was an impressive original dish but didn’t work quite as well—the pineapple blanketed the other flavours and the vanilla was barely noticeable. The tuna was excellent.
The sushi was the biggest let-down. The cuts were torn, uneven and wafer-thin, the rice was off the mark and the maki was so dull I barely noticed it. But the tuna and salmon sashimi were impressively fresh despite the visual appearance. Overall, I’d say skip the sushi.
My main course was the beer-rolled and lobster-filled arctic char, fried scallop, apple butter and turnip spaghetti (4,700 ISK). I didn’t really notice the lobster filling and the scallop didn’t take up a lot of space. But the char collapsed under the fork like butter on laxatives (sous-vide?). Freaking masterful. The Guinness jelly was a great idea and I could have used a little more of it.
Her main course was the “Hawaiian” one, a fried monkfish with rum and grilled langoustine with pumpkin purée, bacon-wrapped date, shellfish foam and orange glaze (4,800 ISK). First of all, not sure where they’re getting Hawaii from as none of these ingredients is particularly Hawaiian. Secondly, although I have nothing but praise for how they handled the fish, these people clearly know their way around the protein, I must say there was too much puree on that plate for such a modern restaurant. Thirdly, I couldn’t locate that date and I could have done without the foam. Fish Company isn’t the worst offender, but I’d love to see this aging foam trend disappear.
The dessert options are awesome at Fish Company. Very few places in Iceland pay much attention to it but here we have six dessert choices—almost as many as the starters. And they all look inventive and cool. Considering that and all the fruity ingredients in the main courses, I wouldn’t be surprised if the head chef’s background was in pastry.
I picked the sponge cake and liquorice brulée with anise milk foam, banana ganache and dulce de leche ice cream (1,590 ISK). Don’t be scared off by the liquorice, it takes up about 1% of the plate. I loved this dish, recalled bread pudding, tres leches and bonbons. But watch out as it’s really filling.
She had the tiramisu with raspberry and caramel chocolate cream, crunchy butter almond and ice coffee (1,790 ISK). Excellent dessert as well, although the ice coffee was too creamy and thick for my tastes.
The servers were more casual than, for example, at Lækjarbrekka, but they carefully explained the theme and ingredients of each dish and the service was fast and unobtrusive.
If you were a fan of The Seafood Cellar (RIP) then you will continue to find a lot to like at Fish Company.
What we think : Love it! Big old wine list.
Flavour: All over the place but with a (mostly) helpful country guide
Ambiance: We could only get a table at 18:00 so it was empty. Nice ‘70s ambiance.
Service: Casual, explained everything in detail.
Price for 2 (with drinks): 20–26,000 ISK