There has been a trend the past several years, beginning with Copenhagen’s NOMA, named best restaurant in the world three years in a row, and continuing with Geist and Amass, for Scandinavian and Nordic cuisine to move front and center on the global food table. That nearly unprecedented arc continues unabated to Iceland where Tapas Restaurant, located at Vesturgötu 3b, served one of the best, if not the best, meal I have ever eaten.
The warmly lit restaurant is divided into a series of rooms which immediately lend a sense of close comfort to the dining experience. The menu is extensive but we were intrigued by the Chef’s Tapas Menu :
– Icelandic spirit Brennívín
– Smoked puffin with blueberry “brennivín” sauce
– Icelandic sea-trout with peppers-salsa
– Lobster tails baked in garlic
– Pan-fried blue ling with lobster sauce
– Grilled Icelandic lamb Samfaina
– Minke whale with cranberry and Malt sauce
– for dessert, white chocolate “Skyr” mousse with passion fruit coulis
We also ordered two items from the restaurant’s regular tapas menu, i.e., foie gras de canard with grilled bread & jam, and bacon-wrapped scallops and dates with sweet chili sauce. Every single aspect of the meal, from the quality and presentation of the food, to the excellent service by the staff, was spot-on and flawless. When we shared the experience shortly thereafter via social media, and in person upon our return home, the visceral reaction was swift and unforgiving. Two items from our meal are the reason why. Puffins, part of the duck family, are a national symbol of the country. The white and black birds, characterized by orange beaks, can be found in Iceland’s coastal cliffs and were, for many years, only served as food to those who could prove residency. The second item is, of course, the Minke whale.
N.B. When we studied the menu, this weighed on us and we debated the appropriateness of ordering especially in light of the whaling issue between the States and Iceland (the country has issued strict quotas on hunting and the percentage of residents who consume the meat is extremely low.) We even asked the waiter if we could substitute two other items. Ultimately, however, we decided to order the meal and enjoy it as the chef intended.