I’ve had lunch here once before and was pleasantly surprised by the stunning quality of the food. Perhaps it’s the inconspicuous location or the unimpressive façade, but this place hardly seems to get any mention—I’ve certainly never heard anyone rave about it the way I have raved about it. But now that the standard had been set, could the Seafood Grill live up to my expectations?
This was a question best left to the shrewd attention of my mother, who had agreed to assist me. She arrived a little earlier than I did and was therefore obliged to wait a little. However, she asked me to pass on to my readers that the maître d’ was most cordial to her, and kindly offered her a seat by the reception as well as a look at the drink menu. Upon my arrival, we were seated immediately, water poured into our glasses by seemingly invisible hands and the menu promptly presented. So far, our evening was off to a promising start.
Since my mother and I don’t go out often, we decided to start off with a celebratory cocktail. I chose the house cocktail, which turned out to be a fun passion fruit concoction with an exotic sprinkle of vanilla. My mother’s mango spritzer was less exciting, but at least refreshing.
Choosing our meal took a little more time, as there were several tempting options: not only various starters and grand entrées, but also lighter mains such as sushi and seafood pasta. Most helpfully, there’s a selection of set menus such as the Fish Feast and Lobster Feast, which range from 5,600–8,700 ISK and include at least three courses. Our waiter provided a few recommendations that helped us finally piece together our meal.
My mother opted for the Fish Feast, as it included the famed shellfish soup, and I decided to start with the perch and grilled langoustine. The soup was light and frothy in texture, like sea foam, but incredibly rich in flavour. My perch and langoustine starter came with Jerusalem artichokes, pearl onions and celery salad, all perfectly cooked to preserve their juicy sweetness. It was such a succulent and well-balanced dish it could easily have sufficed as main course. We also ordered two glasses of the house wine, an aromatic Spanish viura. For 1,300 ISK, I’ve seldom found such a nicely balanced white wine.
Our main courses left little to be desired: the grilled fish combo of perch and cusk was deliciously savoury and the same could be said of my salt cod and grilled pork belly. The vegetables were highlights in their own right and not merely supplementary colorations (the creamed barley and carrot mousse were particularly exciting). If I had one quip about food, it would have to be that my salt cod was, ironically, just a teensy bit too salty. I might have been overly sensitive to this, however, as the starter had left me subtly but surely satiated.
We finished off our meal by sharing dessert (a relief since we were so full). The creamy white chocolate mousse with raspberry meringue would have been perfectly pleasing on its own, but it came with a dill sorbet that could only be safely described as interesting. My mother didn’t enjoy it, but I found it innovative and refreshing.
On the whole, the evening was everything I had hoped for with only a few minor flaws. I’ve seldom experienced such smooth service in an Icelandic restaurant, which is often sadly lacking in standards compared the quality of the food. If you’re looking to share a romantic meal (or treat someone special—like your mother) then the Seafood Grill is, in the unforgettable words of Mary Poppins, “practically perfect in every way.”
What we think: An underrated gem in Reykjavík
Flavour: Savoury, French/Icelandic fish-fare
Ambiance: A candlelit dirftwood forest
Service: Pleasant and accommodating
Price for 2 (no drinks): 7000 – 12000 ISK
Our rating: 4 1/2