Iceland has always been on my bucket list and when the opportunity arose for me to go, I had to take it. The first thing that dawns on you is how expensive everything is! After booking flights, accommodation and a couple of tours. I decided to do some research for food and other places to visit.
One place that was mentioned several times, was the hotdog place. Now, there are several ‘wannabe’ hot dog places… don’t be fooled! You need to find the original with the long queue Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur. One of the cheapest meals and they take card too. These are lamb hotdogs that come with fried onion, crispy onion, special Icelandic brown mustard called pylsusinnep and a remoulade made with mayonnaise, capers, mustard and herbs and finally just normal ketchup. Definitely worth a try!
This is the cheapest thing we ate and we came prepared with some porridge, snacks and tuna dishes to tide us over for breakfasts and lunch. For example, a punnet of blueberries costs around £8 in the supermarket there. We did learn late into our trip that locals shop at ‘Bonus’ but it has reduced opening hours but would be worth a visit if you want to purchase more items there. Also, don’t buy bottled water there, tap water is delicious!
I’m really not kidding about the tap water. On my first night I was raving about the water on the table rather than the pricey wine! You can top up your water bottle for free in Reykjavik downtown as there are a few water fountains and on tours you can ask for restaurants to fill up your bottle.
Our first night’s meal was at a Lobster restaurant called Torfan. It wasn’t cheap but we didn’t go for lobster anyway as I was more tempted to try ‘Puffin’ (yes the cute, fat bird) and I’d never tried (or heard of) Arctic char. The puffin was absolutely delicious! The puffin was smoked with a blueberry glaze served with seaweed salad, pickled root vegetables and seaweed lava rock.
The Arctic char is a cold water fish similar to salmon, rare to UK, but common in Nordic countries. This was served with noisette potato purée, kale and hollandaise sauce.
Delicious meal and if you order a ‘small’ wine you actually get a carafe, which is pretty decent!
If you visit Fontana Spa, you will have a chance to try fresh geothermal baked rye bread which is slow baked in the natural hot springs for 24 hours. This is quite a heavy bread and quite sweet, but definitely worth a try with some butter.
Another snack, you have to try is the famous skyr (pronounced skeer), which is sort of a mixture between a thick yoghurt and marscapone cheese. It has a mild flavour but I chose to have the mixed berry version. It is low fat and high in protein, and I’ve started to see it more on the shelves of UK supermarkets, but I wanted to try it whilst I was there.
For any coffee lovers, I would recommend seeking out Reykjavik Roasters. I don’t drink coffee myself, but my two friends do and they gave this a two thumbs up. It’s also very near to Hallgrimskirkja (the stunning church modelled on waterfalls in Iceland).
For more dining, I recommend looking at the restaurants near the old harbour. It’s apparently where locals go and the fish there is great. Ask for catch of the day as you’ll get the freshest fish and you won’t be disappointed!
Our final meal was a recommendation by my colleague, who said that I would need to book this asap. I managed to get a table at the very small restaurant, Fiskmarkadurinn, or the easier name of Fishmarket. We all opted for the nine course tasting menu, but unfortunately they couldn’t accommodate a garlic intolerance so just two of us had this. I’ve pooled the photos into a grid, and I’ll do my best to remember each dish!
Middle row L-R: masala rock shrimp tempura with jalapeño cream, seaweed and rock melon, Volcano maki and scallop nigiri, maki with salmon and langoustine tartar and scallop nigiri with yuzu, salted cod with potato purée
Bottom row L-R: Icelandic mussels steamed with beer and served in a lobster broth, Grilled Icelandic lamb, confit of lamb shank, pickled beetroot and fried mushrooms and finally the amazing dessert! Dessert consisted of: chocolate lava cake, raspberry sorbet, passion fruit cheesecake and fresh fruit.
All in all, a pricey but totally delicious experience of a meal with a little theatre thrown in.
I definitely recommend Iceland for the culinary delights, the scenery and the northern lights. And if you want to bring back an amazing treat for colleagues, pick up some ‘Ris Buff’ which are chewy candy bits covered in milk chocolate with rice crispies.
Another tip is if you want Blue Lagoon face masks, buy them at airport as it is cheaper…not cheap but cheaper!