The family-run Slippurinn Eatery in the Westman Islands is one of Iceland’s beloved regional restaurants. Open only during the summer, and with a focus on slow cooking, wild herbs, and top-quality local ingredients, the 150km journey doesn’t discourage capital city foodies, who sometimes plan an island getaway based around their booking.
In fact, getting some fresh ocean air and sailing into the mountainous, bright green harbour of Heimaey during the summer months is all part of the Slippurinn experience—and something to dream of during the winter season.
So it was a welcome announcement that Slippurinn executive chef Gísli Matthías Auðunsson would take over the kitchen of Reykjavík restaurant Apotek during the January off-season for a four-day pop-up. The seven-course tasting menu comprised classic dishes peppered with fresh twists and new ideas, whilst staying true to the slow-cooked, locally-sourced philosophy that has landed Slippurinn on the culinary map.
The meal begins with two starters. First comes a plate of crisp hardfiskur flakes and brittle shards of dried kelp, served with a roe dipping sauce, and paired with a glass of dry Drappier champagne. There’s a thought-out approach to creating a balanced dish that’s immediately noticeable; the rich colours are carefully composed on the muted earthenware, and the mixture of crunchy, creamy, salty and sweet shows a rare and welcome attention to detail.
This is followed by immaculately plated, melt-in-the-mouth foal carpaccio dressed with nutty rapeseed oil, crumbs of goats cheese, and bright green nasturtium leaves. Food doesn’t come much more Instagrammable; it’s a good moment for a game of “Eat it, or frame it?”
Tail of two langoustine
Langoustine—often referred to locally as lobster—is a staple ingredient in Icelandic restaurants. Here, they come cooked to perfection, with a firm, slightly crisp texture giving way to a buttery, melting mouthful, set off by the addition of salty, vividly black sea truffles. The drinks pairing takes an unexpected turn when we’re served a fresh-tasting gin and dill cocktail, poured from a teapot. It’s a highlight in an evening of highlights.
The glazed cod collar, with a sculpturally protruding fin, is a meaty cut of fish served with fermented lovage, chicken broth, and potatoes. The fatty fish, carby potato and rich sauce merge into a comfort-food charm offensive that’s mirrored in the next dish: tender slices of medium-rare lamb rump steak with thinly sliced and grilled celeriac and pickled rhubarb. It’s a blissful combination: winter blues, begone.
We finish with two sweet courses: first, a creamy Skyr with blueberries, arctic thyme and crunchy toasted oats, then a silken milk chocolate ice cream with chervil sorbet, foamed cream, and a broken wedge of liquorice-studded meringue. Both are pleasingly decadent, and far superior to the usual afterthought dessert.
Fully sated, I relax into my chair as it begins to snow outside. It’s the tail end of January, and this Icelandic feast will almost certainly rank amongst my favourite meals of the year—or, at least, until Slippurinn opens again come summertime.
Read more about Sluppurinn in our 2017 cover story on Reykjavík’s restaurant revolution.