In Iceland, “I’ll meet you tomorrow” means anything from five days to a month. It’s a confusing and hopeless act that leaves many people questioning if it’s really a statement any longer. Perhaps it has become the Icelandic version of the American, “How are you doing?”–essentially meaningless.
Lunchtime may be the answer to this dilemma. If you’re supposed to be meeting an Icelander on your visit or simply trying to connect with someone you matched with on Tinder, it’s the perfect time. You have a set time limit (typically an hour) and it’s a functional outing: you need to eat. You could always grab a burger or a hotdog, but sometimes you want a little glitter in your weekday. This leaves you with Iceland’s two major meat groups, lamb or fish.
The Rack Of Lamb at Apótek (3790 ISK) is a fine fancy lunch and is a real bargain when you use the NOVA two for one deal. It’s accompanied by smoked celeriac purée, grilled leaks, baked carrots, pickled onion petals, spinach and a dill cream.
Apótek as a lunch venue is unique. It’s one of the few places that has space and light. It’s a large room set against west facing windows that keep the room bright, but never irritatingly sunny. You’ll see people wearing designer clothing from JÖR or Kormáks & Skjaldar. You’ll see tourists studying maps, and occasionally snapping photos. It’s fancy, but relaxed and without pretension–except possibly the 400 ISK macarons (or “french macaroons”). They are delicious, though.
Icelandic lamb is known for its lean, fine grain. The meat is tender and subtle. This is because the lamb are slaughtered at six months, rather than the usual 11 months. During the summer, the sun is up nearly 24-hours, resulting in the lamb eating more and gaining weight quicker. They live fast and die young. Several chefs, including Washington D.C.’s Robert Wiedmaier, consider Icelandic lamb to be the best tasting in the world. And in the end, that’s all that matters, right?
The reason I selected this particular lamb dish as “Lunch Dish Of The Week” is because it manages to be contradictory in its delivery, but works as a dish. It seems like it would be heavy–a rack of lamb at lunch?–but it manages to be light and comforting, subtle but distinct. The meat isn’t overly seasoned or strong in flavour, and the tiny smokiness of the celeriac pairs extremely well with everything on the plate. The acid from the pickled onion petals blends with the slight oiliness of the lamb to give the whole dish the freshness and aroma of a salad.
The worst thing that could happen is your lunch date bails and you eat alone. However, this could also be the best thing. They were probably cramping your style anyway. You’ll experience so much more on your own. The better you look, the more you see.