From Iceland — Absolutely Fabulous

Absolutely Fabulous

Published December 16, 2009

Absolutely Fabulous

Regarded as one of the best restaurants in town, VOX serves New Nordic Food, a modern take on Nordic ingredients and traditions, and an extensive wine list herded by three-time sommelier of the year Elisabet Alba Valdimarsdóttir. New Nordic Food was originally introduced by previous chef Gunnar Karl Gislason who left earlier this year along with restaurant manager Ólafur Örn Ólafsson to start his own kitchen, Dill, at the Nordic house. The pair has done well for themselves, but how is VOX doing without them? Lead by Jóhannes Jóhannesson, it turns out VOX is in good hands.
    Following the super-star sommelier’s recommendation, we chose the seasonal menu (9900 ISK) and, to my date’s jealousy, I had the accompanying wine menu (seasonal menu with wines 16900 ISK).
    What seemed like an innocent 5-course meal turned out to be a smorgasbord of almost twice as many flavours: First, some cumin flavoured laufabrauð Christmas crackers. Then, delicious radish; after that, an espresso shot of creamy reindeer soup with heart and kidneys, followed by Christmas herring from the West Fjords with horseradish ice cream. And we hadn’t even gotten to the actual menu.
    The proper first course, shellfish served with jellified pasta consommé and Christmas brew, was light and sweet, with sea buckthorns adding a sour kick. With it, an equally light Château de la Ragotiere Muscadet Sèvre et Maine 2007 from the Loire in France, followed by an award winning Australian Semillon and delicate salt fish wrapped in gel, with apples, walnuts and a quail egg.
    The next course, lamb with pickled carrots accompanied by an Austrian red—and a good long glass of water for me (I was quickly learning the perils of the wine menu).
    Once I had regained my wits, it was time for the high point of the menu: wild goose breast, full of flavour, perfectly cooked to melt in the mouth, accompanied by goose leg confit in beer, mushrooms, potatoes and cloudberries – again a brilliant berry pick from the VOX team. As for the grape, it was a marvellous dark Argentinean Las Moras Black Label Malbec 2006.
    And then, predessert: buttermilk with rye bread, dill and beetroots, and for proper pudding ice cream, berry sorbet and an almondy thing, which was a bit on the dry side. The white dessert wine Muscat de Beaumes de Venise La Pastourelle Delas 2007 on the other hand was positive surprise for this dessert wine atheist.
    It took us a mere 3 hours, but we managed to eat 5 courses and another handful of tasters, and in my case downed with 5 glasses of wine—an accomplishment in itself. But the true accomplishment was the dinner. Without a fuss, downstairs of the hotel Hilton Nordica, in a space that has something of the air of hotel breakfast room, the dinner served to us was consistently superb: perfectly cooked, with wines equally well selected, not to mention service that was skilled and timed like clockwork. Dinner at VOX was well worth the only five stars of 2009.  

  • VOX, Hilton Reykjavík Nordica, Suðurlandsbraut 2 WHAT WE THINK: Fabulous
  • AMBIENCE: Hotel breakfast room meets fine dining SERVICE: Pro
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