Sometimes you go to a hotel restaurant and you find a dead polar bear.
What does it all mean?
Am I at a hunting lodge?
Elsewhere, an arctic fox was snarling at me from a log. Taxidermied, of course.
The hotel is known for being in the middle of no where away from light pollution. It has lawn chairs in the front for viewing Northern Lights and a nighttime wakeup service. Like many other out of the way hotels in Iceland, it had its own restaurant attached.
The restaurant faces a river where they catch local salmon and probably turn it into a mayo spread for breakfast. Most of the time, it hosts northern lights seekers like us.
Instead of a simple country lodge, the hotel hosts a high end, white tablecloth, black vested service, prix fixe only restaurant.
Like any high end place, after deciding to eat there, you look for the balance between budget and starvation. We looked around at the few tables that were seated, and noticed portions that were about 2-3 times a canape, so we decided to settle for the eight course option instead of the four course option. The next restaurant with edible food would be 30+ minutes away, and the gasoline would cost about as much as the difference in the meals.
Cold tomato sorbet in hot tomato soup 9.5/10: The soup was so fresh that I felt like I bit open a sweet juicy tomato on the vine while it was scorching hot outside. But I am not a savage, and I was at a dinner table where my bowl had a bowl and matched my tablecloth. The sorbet was light and helped round out the acidity of the soup. It was so good that I might start spooning herb/fruit/vegetable sorbets into my soups at home.
Langoustine 9/10: Langoustines are a local specialty. They call them lobsters here, because they are fat but still more tender. They are fatter and wider than the more common cousins that you see in grocery stores in the US. We had to try it to decide if we wanted to hunt down platters of langoustines later by the sea. The decision is a resounding yes. the poached granny smith apples were a great touch.
Cauliflower 6/10: I don’t know why the cauliflowers often miss the mark. Not enough char, too much rawness. Maybe I just like them the way I like them.
Salmon and egg yolk 8.5/10: The egg yolk was cooked evenly to a perfect temperature so that it could be molded into the shape of an ice cream scoop with pointy ends. It is the deep golden colored thing to the left of the salmon. I was just amazed by the small margin of error when making this egg!
The salmon tasted fresh like it was from the river outside. I believed the server that it was from the river even though I was watching the river the whole time, and I can say with certainty that no one from the kitchen ran outside while we were there ;).
Cod 8/10: The cod was a bit on the salty side. I’m starting to get tired of the artichoke puree and cream, but it’s not the fault of this restaurant. It seems to be how cod is made in Iceland. But the fish really couldn’t be fresher. The dish was beautifully presented.
Lamb 9.5/10: Lamb was tender, but under-seasoned. It was fresher and better cooked than the one at Tryggvaskali, which earns it the extra half point.
More guests came, and the service dropped off a cliff here! As you can see, the room is much darker. The sun was gone! In Iceland, the process of that bright sunlight from the cod to this twilight coloring of the sorbet takes ONE HOUR.
Rhubarb 9/10: There was some kind of alcoholic cream, and who doesn’t like alcoholic cream? By the time this arrived I was passing out from having to wait. Also the sun was setting and we missed the sunset trip we planned! booooooo
Skyr 10/10: Thank god the brown piles are caramel and not more artichoke puree. This was an amazing panna cotta. I already liked Skyr as it was and thought it was the best “yogurt” I ever had… or at least in the top two… possibly because it’s not yogurt. This just made my night. It was in the top 3 things that I ate during the trip!
Overall 8/10: the food was great, but I wasn’t a fan of the portion sizes forcing us to order the bigger prix fixe, which then made the meal super long, and we missed the sunset. The service was nice and attentive when the restaurant was not filled.
We did not end up seeing the lights that night because of cloud cover, but if you have the dough to stay there, the wakeup call is a nice service. (It is also offered at many of the Icelandair hotel chain restaurants that are just as expensive.)
In the end, the meal was peachy-keen. or should I say… cheeky-keen?
Best barstools ever.