When people hear that I write about food, the first question is always: “what is the best restaurant in Iceland?” Or, much to their amusement, if it’s at a dinner party: “you’re not going to be reviewing the food here, are you?”
So, here you are, you bloodsucking cretins! My bloody top three list for the year of our Lord 2012 (in no particular order).
GRILLMARKAÐURINN (The Grill Market) Lækjargata 2A, 101 Reykjavík +354 571-7777 email@example.com Weekdays: 11:30–14:00 and 18:00–22:30 Weekend: 18:00–23:30
If it’s seared flesh you want, Argentína Steakhouse and Grillið at Hótel Saga are still a force to be reckoned with, but the year belonged to Grillmarkaðurinn (The Grill Market)—earthy, simple and elegant with a strong emphasis on locally-sourced, quality ingredients.
I have a sneaking suspicion that they will have a hard time maintaining this level of excellence and I’m frankly very doubtful that they are able to source all their ingredients from small, local producers. But there’s no denying that in 2012 The Grill Market were the undefeated champions of lunchtime burger specials, glazed ducks, and tender loins.
If you’re walking downtown in the afternoon, you won’t be able to ignore the smell.
FISKFÉLAGIÐ (The Fish Company) Vesturgata 2a, 101 Reykjavík Tel: +354 552 5300 www.fiskfelagid.is firstname.lastname@example.org Mon- Sun: 11:00–23:30
The design deliberately but subtly seesaws between the rustic and the stylized, and if you squint, you can almost imagine yourself in a small Icelandic farm. But I doubt anyone would confuse the menu with anything Grandma Nanna from Eskifjörður would have come up with.
The meals are categorised by nationality (often at quite a stretch) and they mix and match ingredients and flavours from around the globe, although the focus remains on local seafood. There is an impressive amount of skill on display; they avoid getting lost in the frivolous details (for the most part). This is a haven for strange ideas and experimentation but shy of the more obnoxious tendencies in molecular gastronomy.
All that and a killer dessert menu to boot.
SLIPPBARINN Mýrargata 2101 Reykjavík Tel: +354 560 8000 www.icelandairhotels.com/hotels/reykjavikmarina/restaurant/menu-at-slippbar Kitchen is open every day 11:30–22:00
In the business casual lounge category, it has to be Slippbarinn. An increasingly popular hangout for the downtown crowd, especially during the cocktail happy hour, Slippbarinn is working under a Spanish influence and offers a lovely selection of small courses and charcuterie without taking the step into tapas territory.
The head chef has already picked up the award for chef of the year here in Iceland (a small-scale, local industry award not unlike the James Beard) and the general consensus is that this is one of the success stories of 2012.
Try the plaice tempura, flatbread and the shredded pork (or duck)
Now slip out of these wet clothes and into a dry martini.