Quiche was the big culinary trend of the 1980s, and it was hard not to find sun-dried tomatoes or an Asian-fusion creation on a menu in the 1990s. Now, it seems, foam is where it’s at. It’s the f-word of Reykjavík haute cuisine.
It’s unclear exactly where or why this creation has emerged in the city, but I’ve eaten at several restaurants where froth is a favoured feature. Vox is leading the pack in the field of creative foam. We savoured it in the soup pre-starter, the mustard foam with gravadlax, a suspiciously frothy Jerusalem artichoke mash with the main dish, and in the strawberry sauce of the dessert.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise. After all, Vox is famous for its modern creations. The foam, although perhaps overused, is just one example. The seasonal menu makes good use of both local Icelandic ingredients (such as Akureyri blue cheese, kvöldsól fruit wine, and the ‘witch craft’ tea which formed the core of an outstanding ice cream) and imported items (Jerusalem artichokes and cherries).
Prices are some of the highest in town, but you’re paying for some of the best food. The Seasonal, a five-course gourmet extravaganza, costs 6,900 ISK or 11,800 ISK with wines to match each course. The Icelandic Fisheries Jurisdiction, a four-course special, is 5,900 and 10,000 with wine. Choosing the option with wines is highly recommended. The restaurant sommelier’s choice of a rich golden Sicilian chardonnay was a perfect counterpoint to the delicate turbot fillet and earthy artichokes.
Aside from the food, Vox scores highly in the other prerequisites for a memorable evening. The service is among the best in the city. Great care is taken from the presentation of the cutlery, to the pouring of the wine, to the explanation of each dish. Servings are the perfect size, and the wait between courses keeps just the right pace. Surroundings are plush, if on the corporate side. Chocolate brown curtains blend well with the creamy linens and there is a long modern fireplace for atmospheric warmth.
Residents of 101 may bemoan the fact that they need to take a taxi home from relatively distant Vox. It’s worth it. While you’re having post-meal chocolates and coffee in the bar and listening to the live jazz music, you’ll feel it’s a special, if slightly frothy, experience.