The cuisine of Iceland is extremely original: some of the traditionally accepted local dishes can even damage the stomachs of tourists who are accustomed to European food. The roots of the culinary traditions of Iceland began to develop in the middle ages. However, the products which are included to the dishes of Icelandic cuisine are of great ecological purity. The water is clean, the air too, and the cattle is grazed on ecologically safety grasslands.
Icelandic cuisine is not very rich and diverse because of the generally meager nature and not very favorable climate. The geographical location of Iceland determined the presence of seafood and fish in the majority of dishes. These are scallops, shrimps, salmon, shark meat, cod, halibut and many others. Speaking of meat, lamb is a primary ingredient.
So, here are 5 most iconic dishes of Icelandic cuisine, and spots of Reykjavik, where you can taste them…
Smoked Salmon is probably one of the most popular dishes of Icelandic cuisine. It’s not salty, but incredibly tasty. Sliced into thin pieces, smoked salmon is often served as a snack. Also, it’s strewn with pieces of finely chopped parsley, green onions and arugula. Because of the low salt content, the taste of salmon may seem unusual, but then you get used to it and start to enjoy the food with double pleasure.
Where to taste: In fact, it’s available almost everywhere. You can buy smoked salmon even in the local supermarket and eat it for breakfast with Icelandic black bread with cereals, or you can order smoked salmon at any Reykjavik’s restaurant.
However, the best salmon of slow smoking is served in Lava Restaurant (Address: Nordurljosavegur 9, 240 Grindavík), which is located in the famous thermal complex Blue Lagoon. This is not surprising, because its chef Viktor Örn Andresson was recognized as the best chef in Iceland in 2015.
‘Fiskur Dagsins’ – Fish of the day
Everyone knows that small Iceland is a world-known fishing country. Sea fish is caught all year round in large quantities, and small part of it is delivered to local restaurants and presented to visitors in the form of a dish called ‘fiskur dagsin’s – fish of the day. It can be cod, haddock, catfish or other kinds of sea fish, but it’s not important. In any case, be sure that you will get a very tasty dish: a portion of sea fish fillet, beautifully served with greens, potatoes, vegetable garnish and tender sauce.
Where to taste: You can taste the best ‘fiskur dagsins’ in Slippbarinn Restaurant (Address: Mýrargata 2, 101 Reykjavík). It’s served right on a grilling skillet, accompanied by broccoli, lemon and small Icelandic potatoes. By the way, potatoes in Iceland are always cooked with peel.
Icelandic lobsters and lobster soup
Icelandic lobsters differ from the usual lobsters by size. They are much smaller and look like giant shrimps. For this reason, in the restaurants of Iceland lobsters are served by 5-6 pieces at once. The most common dish is baked lobster tails with sauce. The dish is not only delicious, but also low fat. The second popular dish is lobster soup. It resembles the classic European cream soup, and most often it’s served as a snack.
Where to taste: The best spot, where you can taste any lobster dish is situated in the suburbs of Reykjavik, in the village of Stokkseyri. Fjörubordid Restaurant (Address: Eyrarbraut 3a, 825 Stokkseyri) is placed on the sea shore, and it can be quite crowded in summer. Therefore it’s better to reserve a table in advance. Lobsters are a specialty of Fjörubordid Restaurant, but it also offers several kinds of fish.
Being in Iceland, it will be an unforgivable mistake not to taste a hot dish of lamb. Icelandic lamb is a very delicate and tasty meat, which doesn’t feature a characteristic smell typical for this kind of meat. Icelanders adore eating lamb and knowing how to cook it. So, order this amazing dish to enjoy a unique taste of juicy, tender, melting lamb in combination with vegetables and delicious creamy sauce.
Where to taste: Lamb fillet is served almost in all restaurants of Reykjavik, but traditionally the best ones are Slippbarinn (Address: Mýrargata 2, 101 Reykjavík) and Lava Restaurant (Nordurljosavegur 9, 240 Grindavík).
At first sight, ‘plokkfiskur’ remotely resembles a poorly mashed potato puree. The dish is made from pieces of fillet of boiled fish (usually cod or haddock), with the addition of pieces of boiled potatoes. Fish and potatoes are mixed, sprinkled with cream sauce and baked in the oven. The dish is served with black rye bread and vegetables.
Where to taste: Among the places which offer really delicious ‘plokkfiskur’, we recommend to visit Settlement Center Restaurant (Address: Brakarbraut 13-15, 310 Borgarnes) situated in Borgarnes.
Summing it up, Icelandic cuisine is very diverse, but at the same time, it’s amazing and incredibly tasty. So, don’t miss to make sure of it by visiting above-mentioned local restaurants. Of course, use a rental car in Reykjavik in order to find them without wasting your time.