From Iceland — SALT,Hotel 1919

SALT,Hotel 1919

Published June 24, 2005

SALT,Hotel 1919

Described as “chic, upscale and casual” on its website, the hotel restaurant, Salt, actually is. Each table is decorated with a small porcelain bowl with pink, white and black sea salts, each imported from its own continent. The salts are, I was told, expensive enough for the chef to be constantly on the look-out that customers don’t spoil them.
As the chef gathered various courses into an extensive meal for my Italian companion and me, he surprised and pleased us both … but even if this may seem like a perverse complaint to make, too much so. A bit less would have been a bit more, as the rainbow of different flavours at some point turned into a brownish mess … perhaps because, strangely, given the restaurant’s upscale cooking, the same wine was served with all parts of the meal, up to a wonderfully innovative main course of Coca-Cola-glossed quail.
Each element of the meal was more or less delicious – the pumpkin soup, lobster, wild mushroom risotto and quail being my personal favorites. But add snails, foie gras and halibut and you feel as though you were hijacked by an upscale culinary conspiracy. The place being merely a week old, this is in line with the somewhat insecure staff – each member being charming and industrious, as a unit they seemed to be somewhat less than secure.
The extravagant dinner was topped off with a triple desert, one part of which was the now imperative hot chocolate fudge. As everyone seems to serve this it can become a very practical index of a restaurant’s quality. It is, if I’m not mistaken, basically an underbaked muffin, and needs some delicacy in preparation. This time round it was delicately prepared, but the ingredients not quite chocolaty enough.
I’m being something of a prick, but this restaurant sets its standards high and can be measured accordingly. It is among the most promising and potentially amusing kitchens I’ve been to, but not quite there yet.
I’d also like them to make stronger coffee.
Salt, Hotel 1919, Pósthússtræti 2, 101 Reykjavík,
Phone: 599-1000.

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