From Iceland — In the White Room

In the White Room

Published December 3, 2010

In the White Room

Vox. I had heard the name as if it were legend. This mythical place that sends taste buds to heaven and wallets into therapy. To say that I was anxious to discover for myself what all the fuss was about is an understatement; I was downright giddy.
Thus, my date and I procured a taxi to the Hilton Nordica Hotel (Suðurlandsbraut 2) at the hour of our reservation and quickly found ourselves ushered toward a miniscule table for two, butted up against a wall at the far end of the pure white space in which we were the only diners. The combination of the stark design, the lack of other patrons and the isolation of our table made us feel rather isolated. We whispered across the tiny table to one another for fear that our voices would carry all the way out to the reception desk with a complete lack of other bodies to absorb the decibels.
Our waiter came to take our order. We would have the Seasonal Menu with wines (18.400 ISK, or 9.900 ISK without wines).
I love a good surprise, so when the waiter brought out a lopsided set of bowls containing some homemade chips and a skyr-based dip I was thrilled. My date and I happily grazed upon this upscale snack until the amuse bouche arrived—Icelandic shrimp with horseradish granules, apple purée and sugar. This was an interesting bite, with the hottest (flavour wise) item on the plate being presented in the form of icy shavings. Points for creativity.
Next up was a small bite of slowcooked cod with ceps and cep bullion, a rich little dish and the moistest, most tender cod I have ever sunk my teeth into. This was followed by a selection of breads to nosh on before the first course presented itself.
While still devouring the breads we were presented with a langoustine doused in too much dill. The miniature crustacean was further flavoured by unique floral notes. The white wine that had tasted quite sour ahead of tasting the langoustine all of a sudden was light and fresh.
The reindeer tartar that was served next was the opposite of what I expected. When I last had reindeer I found it too gamey, but this was so dainty and light that it melted in my mouth; doubly so when followed by a sip of the Spanish Mas Petit with which it was served. The sauce aside, the tartar tasted too much of mayonnaise, however, and did nothing for the dish but weigh it down.
The waitress poured a glass of Abednego from Australia and I enjoyed its smoky flavour while a duo of duck was placed before me. The breast was dry. It just was. It was disappointing. But the slow-cooked thigh meat was delightfully tender. The cabbage purée and beets were a nice combination, adding acidity and sweetness, but the chanterelles were unusually salty, almost offensively so. This would be the low point of the night.
Pre-dessert presented itself to be a refreshing pallet cleanser of bumbleberry and juniper granité atop herbed skyr with crumbled brown sugar. It was a lovely and sweet segue into the real and simple dessert of skyr with blueberries and crispy oats. The Italian sweet wine with which dessert was served was, indeed, very sweet and didn’t appeal to me, but my date enjoyed his glass to the last drop. Dinner at Vox was enjoyable, that much I expected, but it didn’t blow my socks off to the extent that I was lead to believe. There were nearly as many misses as there were hits, though to be fair, a miss by Vox standards is still a grand slam in nearly any other establishment. But then again, expectations are high when dining at what has become known as one of Reykjavík’s finest dining establishments, so any misstep is a glaring disappointment.
Vox (Suðurlandsbraut 2)
What we think: Sufficiently impressive food
Flavour: Sophisticated and complex
Ambiance: Stark White
Service: Professional
Rating: 4/5

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