First off, Siggi Hall does not offer a traditional style buffet. Rather, the various dishes from the buffet are grouped together on tray according to tradition; starting with fish courses, moving on to cold meat dishes, then hot meat dishes and finally the desert table. It was certainly nothing I had expected, but I can honestly say that this method of presenting the Christmas buffet exceeds the more traditional buffet style. The only drawback is that you cannot see what you have to look forward to, so restraint in the first two rounds is hard to muster, leaving you full by the time you get to the main courses.
For me, the key to a good Christmas buffet lies in the essentials. Several dishes are imperative, while others could be regarded as interchangeable. The first real test is the herring. With six different varieties on offer, the standout was the herring with mustard sauce, with the very Icelandic Brennivínssíld, or Black Death marinated herring a close runner up. However, the curry herring was not very exciting, while the other varieties fell somewhere in between. The traditional Icelandic salmon was also a highpoint.
The most essential of the essential Christmas foods, Icelandic hangikjöt, or smoked lamb along with the second most essential dish, the smoked pork fillet, were both featured on the second tray. The hangikjöt is prepared in every Icelandic home around Christmas, with each family preparing the meat according to traditions passed on through generation. Obviously, with such a dish, everyone has their own idea on how the meat should taste, look and feel. I realise that there is never a single right way to prepare hangikjöt, but to my taste the meat was a tad to smoked and the flavour a little to strong. The smoked pork fillet, a main course for my family on Christmas Eve, was cooked exactly to my liking.
Although a word must be reserved for the excellent reindeer steak and the exquisite potato gratin, I must mention the superb desert table. While the crème brûlée and the tiramisu tasted heavenly, it was the pavlove with berries and vanilla sauce that made my day.
With his firm grip on the Christmas essentials, and delicious augmentations in the “interchangeables,” Siggi Hall’s Christmas buffet is a delicious treat, easily recommended for all.