I walk into the womb-like vestibule of Dill, still smelling faintly of tar and paint, with just enough lighting to help my eyes adjust to the dark interiors. The light grows as I walk up the stairs and so does my anticipation.
Dill 3.0 has only been open a few weeks. We normally do not review restaurants this early, but this is chef Gunnar Karl, and when he tells you that he is planning to turn the tasting menu-wine pairing concept on its head, you grab front row tickets post haste.
The space that once housed Nostra has been transformed into a rusty terracotta cocoon of warmth. Foraged greens in clear glass frames and burnished wood ledges with wine glasses strike a homely vibe. With the service abandoning the long-winded spiel about the restaurant-ingredients-techniques for easy conversation, I can’t help but feel I am at a friendly dinner party.
Echoing that same vibe, the wine courses—all natural—are offered for a group of dishes, rather than the traditional course by course pairing. In a fine dining setting such as this, the democratisation of pairings allows for refreshing dialogue between diners and the chefs.
Signature snacks arrive in rapid succession—a teeny disc of cod chip dotted with prunes, a thimble of ‘kitchen scrap’ consomme is a mouthful of deep dashi-like intensity, and the goose offal pate is like swallowing a Christmas bauble in the best possible way. Ruby red beets and equally bloody blueberries are raw and pickled with a light snow of horseradish, the stinging sharpness of which nicely augments the Blanc de Blancs de Bouzy ‘B3’ champagne from Jean Vessele.
The ‘onion cake’ however is already gaining notoriety. A rich, almost malty financier, the rendered onions interestingly recall foie gras-like butteriness. Cut with the sparkly wine, this remains a bite you remember long after the meal. Each of these heralders are perfectly one-bite sized designed to leave one longing for more.
Beyond tasting menus
A stream of demure and verdant local veggies arrive next. Matchstick like raw rutabaga becomes more than the sum of its parts with its coriander and chilli flecked rutabaga mash. The 2015 Chardonnay from Alexandre Coulange highlights the citrus notes of the coriander, making it one of my favourite pairings of the evening. Solfinn Danielsen’s curation is unmistakable.
Designed to reduce kitchen waste and to use ingredients in their entirety, the main courses each honour one star ingredient—on this occasion, cod and goose.
Fish bones are simmered for a soup, and when poured over tiny orbs of al dente potatoes it is a more successful reference to plokkfiskur than the quenelle of cod that preceded it. The dry 2017 Chenin Blanc from Garo’Vin is an arresting accompaniment, but the cod centres are so textbook I find myself longing for some guts and glory.
The goose breast with pickled crowberries reminds me that this is what the goose likely ate sans the copious puddle of seaweed butter of course. The punch is delivered with the intensely savoury goose leg broth, every sip studded with a brunoise of pickled root vegetables.
As I look back, however, it is the humble griddle-cooked potato flatbread I am thinking about. Nostalgia is a powerful ingredient in cooking and one that Dill has long teased. Here the bread with smoked cream cheese and hand harvested salt is a reminder of flatkaka and smoked meats traditionally eaten in Iceland, with neither of the two components actually being served.
Dill 3.0 cleverly curates an entire experience, be it the absence of branding except for subtle flourishes in the letterpress menu cards, the cutlery jar instead of place settings and the eclectic playlist. Even as the winning wine and dinner service are bookended by precision food, it is all designed to put you at ease, and really rattle fine dining norms. And that it does, with aplomb.
Visit the restaurant at Laugavegur 59, 101 Reykjavík. Make reservations.
Buy subscriptions, t-shirts and more from our shop right here!