Iceland is known for its seafood and some unusual dishes. I was certainly not about to try the Hakarl. Fermented shark? No, thanks. However, I did try some other foods I had never tasted before. When in Rome…
Here are some of the restaurants I ate at while I was in Iceland, including the #1 & #3 reviewed restaurants on TripAdvisor.
Humarhusid (The Lobster House)
TripAdvisor rank was #21 when I was there, but has since moved to #19
Amtmannsstíg 1 | 101 Reykjavík
Ambiance: As you can see in the photo, the vibe at this restaurant is a bit old fashioned. There are white tablecloths and a tiny vase with a single rose on each table. When I asked for a table for 1, the waitress was quite nice, but she went and retrieved another gentleman who I felt looked me up and down before seating me. Many of the people there were middle aged and up.
Amuse-bouche: The waiter was quick to bring me this little bite of salmon and catfish from the chef, a nice welcome to a meal.
Lobster Soup: It was super windy in Reykjavik, so I wanted to have soup. Although it is a starter, I ordered it as a main as it was a big bowl. There was a summer menu posted outside, which had peaked my interest, but the waiter informed me after I sat down that they didn’t have this menu any more. Disappointed, I settled for the soup.
The menu says the soup has lobster tails in it, but I think there was just one langoustine in it. I wasn’t crazy about the flavor of this soup. I don’t have a refined enough palate to know exactly which seasoning was throwing it off for me, but I wasn’t particularly impressed with this restaurant.
Lobster Soup: 2190ISK ($11.91)
1 Glass Pinot Grigio: 1590ISK ($8.65)
Total: 3780ISK ($20.56)
On a scale of 1 to 10, I give the Lobster House a 5
Sjavargrillid (Seafood Grill)
TripAdvisor Rank #3
Skolavordustigur 14, Reykjavik 101
I tried eating at this restaurant the first night I was in Reykjavik, but it was too packed and there was an hour wait. The next night I returned and it was still crowded. However, it was a warm evening, so when I asked if I could sit outside, I was seated right away. You should probably make a reservation if you plan to eat here.
Ambience: Above you will see what my outside table looked like. The host was serving me instead of a waitress. He forgot to bring me a glass for the water, but was generally a nice guy and served me fairly quickly. The wooden table was uneven and wobbly. There was one small heating lamp beneath the awning above me.
Hallgrím’s shellfish soup: I was disappointed with the fact that this shellfish soup only had 2 mussels and one little langoustine in it. The flavor really reminded me of the lobster soup from the night before, so I wasn’t crazy about it. The menu says it has fennel in it. If you order a seafood soup here in Norway, you generally get way more seafood in it.
Before I went to Iceland, I was debating whether or not I would eat the above, but I reminded myself, “When in Rome…” This is the Smoked European Shag, Puffin & marinated Minke whale appetizer. There is a scoop of blueberry sorbet there in the middle. From left to right in the photo: whale, shag, puffin.
The whale activated my gag reflex. Even when I drowned it in sorbet, I had to force myself to swallow it.
The European Shag is a seabird, which has dark meat. No, it did not taste like chicken. The name will of course be amusing to Brits (“Did you have a good shag?” etc.), but it actually was pretty good.
The puffin was also a dark meat, which was perfectly edible. That’s the best I can really say about that. If you can’t remember what a puffin is, they’re the adorable seabirds that look like this:
Shellfish soup: 2380ISK ($19.72)
Puffin, Shag, & Whale: 2650ISK ($21.95)
1 glass white wine: 1300ISK ($10.77)
Total: 6300ISK, About $52.44
As you can see, Iceland isn’t exactly cheap, and even though it’s the #3 restaurant on TripAdvisor, it ultimately didn’t feel like it should be a $50 meal. It was nice to taste something different, but I am not sure it’s worth the price.
On a scale of 1 to 10, I give The Seafood Grill a 6
Grillmarkadurinn (The Grill Market)
Laekjargata 2A | Reykjavik 101
The Grill Market is the #1 ranked restaurant in Reykjavik according to TripAdvisor reviews. Tucked away on its own little street, it can be difficult to find, but you would never notice by how crowded it is. I tried to go here the night I ended up at the Seafood Grill, but they didn’t have room for me anywhere. My last night in Reykjavik, I made sure to get here a bit earlier and I was able to get a seat at the bar, which is preferable when you are dining alone. Definitely make reservations to come here with a group.
Because I was sitting at this counter, I was able to chat with an American guy nearby who was also traveling solo. This is why it’s always better if you can find a restaurant with this sort of seating when you are alone.
The Rib-Eye: This was hands down the best meal I had in Reykjavik. I was sick of shitty seafood soup and went straight for the meat, which comes from local farmers. The steak was juicy and cooked well (I ordered it medium). It came with a clove of garlic, which they recommended rubbing on it. The mushroom sauce (the brown one there in the middle) was so good I had to ask for more.
I subbed the curly fries for the crispy potatoes, which was an awesome move. The garlic sauce the potatoes came in was great. The veggies were mushrooms and baby corn, which were also good. Yum, yum, yum!
Even though the tasting menu is only supposed to be for 2 or more people, the American guy next to me had convinced them to let him try it. By the time his dessert sampler came, he was so full he didn’t want it and let me taste what I wanted. I didn’t take a photo, since it wasn’t my food, but the chocolate mousse that came with it was really good.
Rib-eye steak: 5790ISK ($47.97)
2 glasses of pinot grigio: 2580ISK ($21.38)
Total: 8370ISK ($69.35)
On a scale of 1 to 10, I give The Grill Market a 9.