Dining at Perlan is always an uplifting experience, if not only for the fact that the restaurant is located near the top of a grand structure, providing an excellent view of Reykjavík. The floor even revolves at a slow and steady pace. The restaurant has experienced bouts of greatness interspersed with low points during its fifteen year run; while the service and atmosphere has always been of the highest standard, the food itself is less consistently good, although the last few years have seen a change for the better.
“Christmas buffets” have long been popular in Iceland, serving as a venue for families or co-workers to sneak a preview of impending holiday feasts. Arriving for this purpose on a Monday night, my companion and I were met with a pleasant Christmassy atmosphere. After showing us to our table, our waiter (who provided a competent and professional service throughout our stay) brought us a nice glass of Chianti and a pre-starter in the form of wild geese soup.
The cream infused soup tasted fine, if bland, and was actually more reminiscent of standard mushroom soup. The starter table was an altogether more exciting affair. Choosing from a wide selection of starters, we sample bits of every available course. The whale carpaccio was well suited for fans of such delights (which I am), marinated herring on rye has yet to let down and some smoked eel on boiled eggs fit the mood nicely. Not as fitting to the Christmas theme (which just screamed “traditional Icelandic!”) were tomatoes with mozzarella and basil and a Tandoori style chicken.
The main buffet table was loaded with many a salty delicacy. The casserole and reindeer ball courses were actually so salty that I had a hard time finishing them. Another drawback was the pre-boiled potatoes served. We had better luck with the turkey-leg course and the hangikjöt (smoked lamb) was exquisite. They even managed to get the white sauce right, which is uncommon for restaurants. The absolute high point of the evening was tender and juicy venison, served with an addictive wild mushroom sauce.
After wondering what Latin styled background music had to do with Christmas, we headed to the dessert table – and what a table. Laden with sugary cakes, ice creams and cheeses, it was without a doubt the high point of our evening.