Dining Around the World in Downtown Reykjavik

As more people are traveling to Iceland, the restaurant scene is becoming innovative and multi cultural. Over the recent years, Icelanders and visitors, both have been demanding sophisticated cuisine that incorporates global flavors. Icelandic chefs are also realizing that they have an abundance of fresh ingredients such as Arctic Char, lobster, lamb, salmon, beets, parsnip and more, available to them. The new fusion menus are allowing chefs to be creative, adopting herbs and spices from other cuisines, to create a different genre of food.

FishCompany is an interesting concept restaurant located in downtown Reykjavik, Iceland. The original building that house the restaurant use to be a parking lot, and when excavated, found to be the old harbor. It is now a beautifully restored modern cave looking restaurant. The cozy atmosphere is created with exposed brick walls, historic windowpanes borrowed from a church, rustic sheep blankets used as curtains. There is also an outdoor patio next to a pond where guests can dine under the sunny skies of Reykjavik.

What makes the FishCompany stand out is their concept of an adventure around the world through food. A world map made in copper hangs on the living room wall, giving a hint of what’s to come to your plate. The menu features Taste of Iceland and Taste of the World, two very unique sets of selections created using local Icelandic ingredients, yet inspired by global cuisines.

FishCompany Restaurant Iceland

The dishes on the menu are categorized by country – Spain, Fiji, Norway, Madagascar, etc. and the featured ingredient, such as Chorizo, Beef, Lobster, and Chocolate. The server tells me that the countries are not meant to suggest that they are original recipes from those places. The Icelandic chefs at Fiskfelagid’s kitchen draw inspiration by spices, sauces, landscapes and cultures to create edible art that take the diner on an adventure around the world.

Here is a sampling from what I tried…

From the Icelandic Menu

SORRELL – Breaded and deep-fried Cod cheeks and a couple of pan-fried scallops sat on top of cauliflower puree and mint jus. It all came together brilliants with slices of smoked Icelandic skyr (similar to strained yogurt) and a touch of smoked cod foam for a molecular gastronomic presentation. Visually, this dish reminded me of the diverse landscapes of Island – white glaciers, brown rocks and green moss.

deepfried COD CHEEKS & fried SCALLOPSLAMB – A colorful plate of neatly placed prime lamb cuts decorated with thinly sliced beetroot chips. The lamb was crispy on the outside, moist and delicate on the inside, unlike the gamy texture it can sometimes have. Peas, onions and rhubarb sauce formed the base.

panfried PRIME OF LAMB

WHITE CHOCOLATE – A house created dessert, which really doesn’t have a name to capture it all, but should definitely go viral. There is white chocolate cake pudding, burnt caramel cake, buttermilk sorbet, rye bread crumbs, and crushed dried raspberries. A delicious version of Icelandic bread pudding I would say.  

Icelandic milk pudding

From the International Menu, I tried a few staples that can’t be compared to their origins but were done very well.

JAPAN A large wooden plank of mixed sushi presented salmon, tuna and lobster rolls. The fish was as fresh as it can be and even the wasabi had a moderate kick. It was accompanied by sewed salad and thinly sliced ginger.

IRELAND At first glance, I thought it was an Irish stout dog, but in fact there was no meat on this plate. Carefully smoked and rolled Arctic Char fillet was made to represent the classic Irish dish. The Arctic Char tasted a lot like salmon, but buttery in texture. Of course, it was locally sourced as well.

Arctic Char

ITALY – Italian classic dessert, tiramisu was rather unconventional. Served in a mason jar, the proportion of mascarpone to ladyfinger was a little off balance. Nevertheless, it still tasted like a great dessert.

All of the dishes have an extensive wine and beer pairing to go along. Don’t be surprised to find selections from as far as Chile and South Africa to go along with your Sambal Lobster Curry.

As you leave the restaurant, take a pause to see hundreds of post it notes written by diners. This at the spot review process is cute and you can read some of the comments (mostly good) left by satisfied guests before you.

fishhouse

The chefs at FishCompany have recently released a cookbook “Around Fish Company” that is available at the restaurant. It has some of their favorite recipes along with photos of Icelandic scenery that inspired them to create those dishes.

Fiskfélagið (FishCompany Restaurant) – Vesturgötu 2a, Grófartorg – 101 Reykjavík – 552-5300 – info@fiskfelagid.is http://www.fiskfelagid.is

Tandoori in Iceland

When I visited Iceland in 2009, I wasn’t sure what to expect from its culinary scene. Iceland has known to be exorbitantly expense due to its distant location, extreme climate and scarce population. Out of its 300k citizens, only 4% of the population is employed in agriculture. They primarily grow potatoes, turnips, carrots, tomatoes and cucumbers. Other than that, the farmers keep cattle, horses and sheep. Being surrounded by waters, seafood is definitely a big source of food and export for the country.

I saw all of these items on the menu but did not dare try the horse meat. I try to stick to being a pescetarian whenever possible. While there were lots of options for seafood lovers, the most pleasant surprise I had was the Icelandic lobsters. They are very different than the North American lobsters, being smaller in size, almost like a prawn. Also, their texture is much softer and when cooked well, they melt in your mouth.

The Icelandic lobsters preparations varied at the different places I tried them at. In Vik, there was a huge plate of scampi style as well as a lobster meat pizza. In Reykjavik, there were lobster tails in a cream butter sauce with julienned vegetables.

Perhaps the best dish that I tried was tandoori lobster tails at an Indian restaurant in Reykjavik. There were a dozen tender juicy lobster tails perfectly marinated with spices and grilled to perfection. They were served with a mint yogurt chutney and fresh baked naan. Only if i could find the Icelandic lobsters here in the south, I would be preparing this recipe at every special occasion. Until then, just make do with regular American lobsters.

Recipe for Tandoori Lobster Tails

4 medium lobster tails, (removed from shells) meat only

½ cup plain yogurt

¼ cup tandoori paste

Mix the yogurt and tandoori paste in a large bowl, add the lobster tails. Cover and refrigerate for one hour. Heat a grill to 350F. Place the lobster tails on the greased grill surface and cook on each side for 2-3 minutes. Do not overcook the lobsters as they will become too dry and chewy. Serve immediately with mint chutney.