Most informal communication between Icelandic locals and visitors of this volcanic island have for decades revolved around the question “How do you like Iceland?” In recent years, however, visitors of this country have been taking the initiative, asking much better suited questions. Such as: “Where should I go out to dinner?”
For the past year or so, that question has been frequently answered with the magic word: “Messinn.” The restaurant’s name is derived from the term “mess deck,” which, in Icelandic, refers to where the chef onboard a fishing vessel cooks. The menu itself is heavily influenced by the legendary Ísafjörður fish restaurant Tjöruhúsið. Its signature dishes are actually skillets—fillets of cod, wolffish, salmon or even fish stews are served in the same pan they are cooked in, seasoned and buttered to perfection, with new potatoes and fresh veggies. The works!
Real fish dreams
Jón Mýrdal is the owner of Messinn. “It’s no secret that the basic idea is heavily influenced by Tjöruhúsið, where I used to work during the summers as a young man,” Jón acknowledges. He was until very recently the owner of Húrra and Bravó, two very popular bars in Reykjavík. Now, Messinn has his full attention, not least after opening a second location in the Reykjavík harbour area.
“Even when I started Bravó five years ago, my dream was always to open up a fish restaurant,” says Jón. “The idea was there, but Bravó’s location, wasn’t ideal. When I found the place in Lækjargata I saw I could finally realise this dream of mine, and since we opened it has been a real success.”
Various Google and TripAdvisor reviews support Jón’s words, and Messinn’s original location on Lækjargata has been more or less booked out since its inception. The 55-seat restaurant was, therefore, perhaps too small for the ever growing clientele.
“The problem was really that taking large groups was beginning to be too much of a challenge,” Jón explains. “As soon as a group of 10-15 would enter, the staff was under immense pressure. Orders slowed down, which wasn’t really fair to the other customers. That was why I jumped on the chance to open up the second location. It has a terrific view of the harbour, and it is extremely spacious. Now we can welcome groups of any size without any added pressure to the kitchen.”
The second location offers a buffet of fish skillets, rather than serving them individually to each table. But are the skillets any different from the original Messinn? “We do also offer all of our classics,” says Jón. “But the positive thing is also, when catering a buffet, it presents an opportunity for some experimentation. We can always add a new dish to the table and just see how our guests like them. If it’s a success, then who knows? There could be an emerging star on our menu.”
Messinn Granda serves a daily fish buffet. Lunch is served 11:30 AM-2 PM, and costs 2,300 ISK, and dinner is from 6-10 PM, costing 4,950 ISK.