Reykjavik trip report
Dining in Reykjavik is expensive but surprisingly some high end options are comparatively cheap. Service is well meaning but not attentive or engaging. Most low end locations employ young girls who appear to be still in their teens. Wine culture seems to be non-existent and asking for a glass of prosecco or cava for brunch at a high end restaurant causes a fair bit of confusion with them eventually turning up with a bottle of asti. Luckily we had a top ten dinner at Dill.
We tried the famous Baejarins Bezlu hot dog stand, which is a good basic hot dog, but nothing special. Icelandic Fish and Chips uses good quality fish but is otherwise like a good fish and chips place in your home town. They seem to have a number of Thai restaurants and we tried Ban Thai but found it to be very average. Brunch at Vox in the Hilton was well worth it, only about $10 more than breakfast at our hotel. Typical fancing brunch buffet with various salads, cold and hot options, a carving station and a number of desserts with a white chocolate fountain. Lunch Buffet at the Blue Lagoon was also worth the price but had a little less variety than Vox.
Back to Dill. I recommend taking a taxi not because it is far but because it is difficult to find. The restaurant is in a building which appears to be part of their university. The room is small with about 10 tables and large windows which overlooks a pond, a herb garden, and the city. The restaurant is considered part of the New Nordic thing and they pride themselves on using local ingredients and tableware. The chef had worked at Noma and Dill represented Iceland in the Nordic Prize
They offer several tasting menus with wine pairings but have no wine list. We opted for the 7 course menu and I believe it was only $20 more than the three course menu. The tables were set with tree branches that had crisps hanging on them, a dip was brought over for these. Next some raw shrimp on a rock with mayo. Lastly was some very thin, dried, double smoked lamb with a mustard. Two breads were offered one to go with a cider butter and the other with melted brown butter. A great start to the meal.
I'm not going to go into detail for every course. The first proper course was shredded rutabaga with celeriac and flowers. Beautiful presentation and big flavours. Many of the dishes featured herbs, spices or vinegar. I imagine pickling is common for any isolated and cold community. Next was chervil soup with barely cook plaice. Plaice is not a favourite fish of mine but this had a divine buttery texture. A vegetable course was presented with a mussel cream. Each vegetable had its own proper texture and were scooped with a melonballer. The mussel cream added salty richness. There was a cod course which I thought was fresh from it's texture and taste but apparently it was salt cod. A best I've ever had moment. Main course was duck breast and confit of leg with rhubarb. The first dessert was a horseradish ice cream with caramel. I liked it, my girlfriend thought it was weird. It is not much different from wasabi ice cream. We ended with a berry dessert. I thought every dish was a hit. Flavours were balanced, properly seasoned, the right amount of components on each dish showcasing different textures, and everything cleanly presented. Portions of the main ingredients was also generous.
The wine pairings were good and worked with the primary ingredient on the plate. Their was even a good pairing with a beer from the excellent Borg brewery. Service was just as impressive with not a single misstep. Dishes were explained with enthusiasm and every dish which had a cream or liquid was pour table side. What made this even more impressive is that only the sommelier worked the room along with a runner and the kitchen, as far as I could see, was only one hot chef and one cold chef. They did all of this with composure and grace for a room of 30 diners doing tasting menus. I'm not sure if the head chef was cooking that night or if it was the sous (pictures online look a little different the the young guy on line).
The cost of the meal with wine and tip was about $150 CAD pp, a bargain in my mind. This was a far better meal then what I've had at Jean George or EMP and better than anything I've had in my home town of Toronto which has about 20 times the population of Reykjavik. Not that Michelin means much, but if they came to Reykjavik, I'm sure Dill would get a couple of stars. The price of wine in Reykjavik is high and the wines on offer at Dill are entry level which may hold them back from a higher rating in some minds. Definitely a top ten ding experience for me. Highly recommended.
Iceland seems mostly for nature lovers but late in the fall they also have the Airwaves music festival. I thought I would list the other restaurants which were nominated to represent Iceland for the Nordic prize since this maybe a helpful lead, they are: Gallery Hotel Holt, Humarhusio, and Kolabrautin. Sjavarkjallarinn has closed. Hope you enjoy your trip.