The first restaurant I had the pleasure of visiting in Reykjavik was Tapas Barinn, a charming little place in the city center on the corner of Vesturgata and Ægisgata streets. They serve handcrafted cocktails and a glorious selection of tapas.
The decor of the restaurant is inspired by the wine bars of Barcelona, with white washed walls and wooden tables.
The menu is filled with over 50 tapas dishes alone, meaning that number doesn’t include entrees. It’s hard to choose what to get – even more so when you’re already a generally indecisive person, especially when it comes to food. When traveling to a new country, you want to get a taste of what’s culturally authentic, no? That’s why Tineey and I decided to try the Icelandic Gourmet Feast, as well as a few other tapas dishes on the side.
Our corner table in the back of the restaurant. // The tasty bread basket with fresh made Hummus and Olive Tapenade.
The Icelandic Gourmet Feast is a collection of 6 dinner tapas + 1 dessert tapa, created using traditional Icelandic ingredients incorporating a Spanish flair. This tasting menu is ISK 6.690, or just under 60 USD. I had read about most of the key meats used in Icelandic cuisine, specifically puffin and whale – wasn’t sure how I felt about the idea of trying it, but I kept an open mind. I’m glad I did. Perfectly presented, here are the dishes from our dinner.
1. Smoked puffin with blueberry “brennivín” sauce
Puffin meat is similar to that of duck – it’s darker meat, extremely tender and the dish was served cold. The sauce was tangy but packed a punch, probably from the brennivin, which is the traditional Icelandic schnapps derived from potatoes and cumin.
2. Icelandic sea-trout with peppers-salsa
The sea-trout tastes and feels like salmon. I didn’t realize it wasn’t until I couldn’t find any salmon on the menu. It was wonderfully cooked – a little rare on the inside but flaky and soft at the top. The peppers-salsa adds a cold, colorful and fresh taste to the fish.
3. Lobster tails baked in garlic
No 1/2 pound lobster tails here. The lobster tails are small compared to the ones we’re used to in the U.S., but I prefer this size better because they’re juicy, and flavorful throughout every bite. This was a classic tasting dish – no surprises, just buttery goodness.
4. Grilled Icelandic lamb Samfaina
Served hot, this dish had a slightly mediterranean vibe to it. It was served hot and on a skewer, with an awesome, savory sauce.
5. Minke whale with cranberry and Malt sauce
Man, this is probably one of the most exotic meats I’ve ever eaten, but it was so worth it. The whale was so tender, perfectly cooked and although a bit on the saltier side, absolutely delicious.
6. Pan-fried blue ling with lobster sauce
This dish tasted like another classic, served with mashed potatoes and lobster tail drenched in a light, buttery sauce.
7. White chocolate “Skyr” mousse with passion fruit coulis
Good GOD this was amazing. Skyr is Iceland’s version of Greek yogurt – it’s in between a thick yogurt and a cheese custard. This dish was served with a sorbet and coulis, a thick sauce made from passion fruit puree.
To wash everything down we got a pitcher of the Passion Fruit Sangria. It was filled with fruit and served with fruit-filled glasses. I definitely recommend trying any one of their cocktails here, but this sangria was definitely one of the best I’ve had.
Two tapas dishes we tried that were not part of the Icelandic Gourmet Feast are the ones below.
Bacon wrapped scallops and dates with sweet chili sauce
Need I say more? Doesn’t the photo make your mouth water? We saw bacon and immediately ordered it.
Kangaroo a la Crocodile Dundee
Yes, yes, yes. The kangaroo is on the top of the list of most exotic meats consumed. I actually really enjoyed it because of the tomato sauce. It was hearty, served warm and super tender.
This was an awesome way to merge the traditional foods of Iceland and the warm flavors of Spanish cuisine – there are plenty of dishes to choose from (the menu has over 70 items), so whatever it is that you do choose to try, know that it will most likely be delicious. Highly recommended by myself and a whole bunch of others on TripAdvisor (read reviews here). Take a look at the menu here.