From Iceland — A Very Long Wait

A Very Long Wait

Published December 17, 2010

A Very Long Wait

The Fish Company (Fiskifélagið) is located in a charmingly dark space underground at Vesturgata 2a. A bustling, cave-like locale, it provides fine sanctuary from the cold winds outside.
My companion and I were seated in a nicely situated table for two nearby a rather large and boisterous party and scanned the menu briefly before notifying the waiter of our joint selection: the ‘Around the World’ menu with wines (16.500 ISK – 8.900 ISK without wines).
And with our order successfully placed we settled in and waiting for the chefs to present us what they will, which the menu promised would be a culinary delight of Icelandic meat and fish brought to life by spice and herbs from around the world.
Our tour began with a fresh and fruity Blanc de Pacs and fresh bread served with skyr butter, thyme butter and chilli sauce. Shortly thereafter our amuse bouche was served in a twee little jar; Icelandic halibut with beetroot paste, sour scarlet onion, chilli and oat crumble. It was the most complex and satisfying single bite ever to enter my mouth. A wonderful start to the tour.
The first official stops on our world tour were Canada, Malaysia and Iceland, three dishes served family style for my date and I to sample at will. The trio was surprisingly accompanied by a Jacob’s Creek Chardonnay, which we thought a rather pedestrian choice.
Canada delighted with servings of langoustine topped with mussel foam, essence of green apple, and mashed potato with almond crumble. It was altogether tart and buttery and delicious. Malaysia was equally enchanting; offering us a taste of thin and delicate minke whale drizzled with a salty and sweet seaweed balsamic soy sauce.
Rounding out the trio, Iceland represented itself in the form of salmon with rye crumble, dill sauce, mustard jelly, salmon tartar and cauliflower couscous—it was just as muddled to look at as the hodgepodge of items would imply. But I, for one, loved every individual component. The dill was not overly strong, the tartar was buttery and the couscous was smoky, almost like bacon, which complimented the salmon nicely.
Between destinations (an in-f light meal?) we were treated to salt cod with tomatoes three ways: foamed, jellied and puréed. The cod was served atop mashed potatoes with kale and broccoli and a hint of apple that harkened back to the Canadian dish we had just enjoyed. This dish, while it didn’t blow my socks off, blew my mind with its creativity. The foam, jelly and purée all tasted so much as if I were biting into a fresh tomato; it was fun to eat. The salt cod was, indeed, salty. But that’s the point, I guess.
Our glasses were filled with an Emiliana Shiraz and we were off to the United States. If I were to venture a guess we were, more specifically, in Texas, as we were presented with two kinds of steak—dainty fillets of foal peppersteak and miniature medallions of ribeye served directly off a tiny woodsmoke grill. The steak duo was sided by Portobello mushrooms, a delectably rich and fatty polenta, grilled tomatoes and a massive serving of French fries served casually in a paper bag. We were also given a small metal pitcher of a pepper sauce that was more au jus than piquant.
If I were American I would have been pledging an allegiance to my f lag at this point, as this was a truly enjoyable stop on the world tour. Aside from all of the meals components being done to (dare I say…) perfection—both meats could be sliced cleanly like butter and melted in the mouth similarly as well—but we also thoroughly enjoyed that a high-end restaurant had taken a classically accessible food and made it something dazzling, without a hint of pretension.
My date and I discussed the food. We discussed music. We discussed our respective careers and career aspirations. We discussed our childhoods and our adulthoods and our hopes and dreams and a million other things as we waited to depart the United States.
Then we waited some more.
Then we started discussing just how long we were waiting and dwelled on this topic for a lengthy amount of time as we waited longer still.
Maybe the restaurant was understaffed; it was very busy that night. Maybe the chef forgot about us. Maybe we’re just horribly impatient. No, that can’t be it.
When fresh glasses and a Saint Clair from New Zealand were poured we saw an end to our wait was nigh. One sip later and we were simultaneously back in Iceland, and in France and Italy.
France offered a large portion of coconut crème brulée with passion fruit jelly and chocolate ganache, which was good (crème brulée) and offensive (passion fruit jelly). Seriously, the passion fruit jelly incited pulling of horrendous faces both from myself and my date, it was so horrendously strong and sour that it added a massive imbalance to the dish and did not at all meld with the dainty coconut flavour of the crème brulée.
Iceland’s hazelnut brownie with skyr ice cream missed the mark and Italy’s tiramisu with chocolate chip ice cream, melon and melon foam led my date to liken it to “my mum’s dodgy trifle”. That’s not a good thing. It was confusing and disjointed and poorly executed.
Overall dessert was a letdown, especially after waiting ages for it to arrive.
After spending in excess of four hours at our tiny little table my date and I ventured back out into the cold, with nothing left to talk about but how long a night that was.
The Fish Company (Fiskifélagið): Vesturgata 2a
What we think: Thoughtful and inventive food
Flavour: Complex and interesting
Ambiance: Cavernous and Cosy
Service: Professional & Friendly
Rating: 4.5/5

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