Opened in 2007, Fishmarket has already collected a Conde Nast Hot table listing, a Food and Wine Go list mention and a strong reputation among the locals.
From fish skin in the rail to bamboo on the walls and a playful and ambitious Icelandic-Asian fusion menu put together by the 27-year-old head-chef and co-owner Hrefna Rósa Saetran, Fishmarket is definitely chic.
There is a raw bar for sushi and a robata grill, “the Cadillac of grilling”, originating from Japan and fuelled by Japanese charcoal. Despite the name, the carnivore will not starve either. There is both a bar and extensive wine list too, though we chose to drink water throughout the meal.
I started off with a sushi selection (2500 ISK), an ample plate of maki, nigiri and sashimi from the raw bar. The fish was fresh, but the bland rice and too generous a covering of sauces and roe did not do the flavours justice.
My date chose squid tempura (2700 ISK) from Höfn in Hornafjördur. The squid was delicious, it was of wonderful texture and neatly presented on a rice-cooker-grid-type of a thing. The tempura batter, though, was a little on the heavy side.
I had redfish with scallops and pecan pesto (3900 ISK) as a main course. The redfish was well prepared, but the scallops were gluey, merely inspiring the thought: “I am chewing on a dead mollusc here.”
My date chose monkfish and monkfish cheeks deep fried with water spinach, camembert and noisette sauce (4600 ISK). The cheeks were fantastic and the spinach good, the camembert and monkfish filo pastries bad. The whole dish was ruined by its presentation. The deep valley shaped bowl allowed the liquid from the spinach to soak and ruin the pastry and batter of the monkfish and cheeks, leaving a soggy swamp of a dish.
For dessert, we shared a Snickers cake (1900 ISK), kitschy and good, and my date gulped down a muddy espresso – a sad regular even in the greatest of restaurants, though it was served to us with aplomb by young charmer Tommi.
Over the course of the visit we were served by five different staff members with varying levels of professionalism, from Tommi the redeemer and the lovely head waitress to stumbling performances from the others.
All in all, Fishmarket’s atmospheric setting, ambitious menu and the concept raise expectations high, but our visit was plagued by constant little misfires. Next time, I will try the tasting menu (8900 ISK, served for whole table only), which has gathered praise from left and right.
- Website: www.fiskmarkadurinn.is
- What we think: A fun concept and a chic setting, but our trip to the market was hobbled by inconsistencies.
- Flavour: Iceland meets Asia
- Ambiance: More New York than Reykjavík
- Service: From charming to sketchy