Published September 30, 2019
If there’s one thing better than an informative, fun tour round Reykjavík, it’s an informative fun tour that centres around eating—a food tour! That’s right, the Grapevine went on a Reykjavík food tour, courtesy of Your Friend In Reykjavík. YFIR offer a number of different, high-quality tours around the city but the way to this Scottish lassie’s heart is definitely through her stomach, and I was fully ready for all the wonderful, delicious weirdness Icelandic cuisine has to offer.
The tour started at Sæta Svínið Gastropub, where we were presented with a beautiful plate of smoked puffin. A traditional food source in the past, puffin is still regularly eaten on the Westman Isles, especially during national festival ‘Þjóðhátíð’ in August. In this case it was served alongside a sauce made from native berries—pretty delicious stuff.
From there it was on to Hressó, one of Reykjavík’s oldest pubs, for a bowl of one of Iceland’s more accessible foodstuffs—warming lamb soup. Current figures put Iceland’s sheep population at about two thirds the size of its human one, so it’s not surprising that lamb is a very commonly eaten food here, in a variety of forms.
From Hressó we headed down towards the harbour to check out the local seafood—but not before a pit stop at the city’s best hotdog stand, ‘Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur’. ‘Pylsur,’ are a ubiquitous snack food in Iceland and can be found at gas stations all over the country, served with a variety of sauces and both cooked and raw onions. If it’s good enough for Bill Clinton and Kim Kardashian, it’s good enough for you.
Our first seafood stop was Saegreifinn, or ‘Sea Baron’. This famous restaurant was founded in 2003 by much-missed Reykjavík character Kjartan Halldórsson and is a favourite of locals and tourists alike. We devoured their infamous lobster bisque, which lived up to the reputation, as well as minke whale steak, which tasted like beautifully tender and rich beef. Finally—with I must say, some reluctance on my part—it was time for the famed fermented shark. And you know what? It wasn’t actually so bad. Look, I’m not saying I loved it, but it’s an experience for sure. And anyway, it tastes nowhere as bad as it smells, so hold your nose and go for it.
Our last seafood stop was at Icelandic Fish and Chips for—well, yes, fish and chips. But Icelandic Fish and Chips fry their fish in an organic spelt batter and serve it with crispy roasted potatoes and side sauces made from fresh Icelandic skyr, providing an elevated experience of a British classic.
We finished up our Reykjavík food tour back at Sæta Svínið once more desert and a pint of Einstok Icelandic White Ale. A refreshing end to an insightful day into the national foodstuffs of this funny little rock nation. Skál!