My first dinner review in Reykjavik was at the spacious Grill Market. After a rather freezing afternoon whale watching in the Arctic a hot shower and quick change had me relaxed as ever and ready for my first real taste of just how creative the culinary scene in Iceland is becoming. Our server was an energetic and always smiling blond who accommodated our every hope and dream. While Sarah flipped through the menu and waited on our first cocktails I walked around the interior space upstairs and downstairs to get a better impression. I really started to fall in love with Scandinavian design all over again. The downstairs was huge and featured a beautiful stand alone bar, spiral staircase and lounge area filled with vintage furniture.
Sitting back at the table we had four cocktails ready for us to sample. Two martinis and a raspberry and blueberry mojito. We both looked up at ourselves and smiled. A quick clink of the glass and we placed our order. The first food to grace our table was a bread board which featured a large slathering of Icelandic butter (stars in my eyes) and the most bizarre looking black salt. I asked the server to explain the pile of salt on our board and she exclaimed “this is volcanic salt from the recent eruption.” Grill Market is the only restaurant in Reykjavik that is serving this edible volcanic ash on its tables to be sprinkled atop its dishes. So, Sarah and I slathered our butter on a slice of rye and sprinkled flakes of black volcanic salt…took a moment to stare at the situation and then just took a giant bite. It was heavenly! The volcanic salt gives a nice crunch and creates an unforgettable experience for the culinary tourist “…and then we sprinkled volcanic ash on our bread from that eruption that totally ruined air travel in Europe, remember that one? It tasted so good!”
The restaurant clearly loves using local products and actually has a tab on their website which showcases their favorite farmers. Inside the restaurant this is also apparent as the walls are covered in images of farmers with their products. Iceland really is a farm to fork destination with a focus on showcasing the bounty of the season. I do think this tradition stems from their history as a country which had to smoke and salt their fish, can and preserve their berries and pickle their vegetables (and sheep testicles).
Highlights of our meal included the grilled chicken wings on skewers covered in a tangy peanut sauce, local grilled lamb and a phenomenal beef tenderloin with mushroom fondu. Our dessert offerings were plentiful as we ordered the tasting plate covered in decadent little treats. If that wasn’t enough I insisted we order the traditional Hnalllpora a layered cake which features pear, pistachio and cream.
Grill Market is one of Reykjavik’s top restaurants with a focus on showcasing local ingredients and unveiling Iceland’s capital as a unique culinary destination. By the time Sarah and I waddled out the front door the entire restaurant was packed with locals and a line was forming at the door. Make sure to make a reservation before flying over the pond.
anis, vanilla vodka, guana purre
Pineapple Ginger Martini
vodka, ginger, pineapple
Saint Clair, Vicar’s Choice Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand
Grilled Chicken Wings
skewered with homemade peanut butter
Grilled Corn Cob
with icelandic butter and volcanic ash
Deep-Fried Vegetables in Crispy Dough
with organic Greek Yogurt
Angelica Lamb from Halla At Ytri Fagridadlur
with red onion and lime
potato salad, yogurt and ocean shrimps
mushroom fondu, mixed vegetables, salad with feta and spiced nuts, crispy frites
pear pistachio and vanilla cream
Sweet Milk Ice
Grill Market Chocolate
with mascarpone sabayone, warm caramel, coffee ice cream with rice krispies and gold leaf
Apple and White Chocolate Cake
peanut sorbet and red current jam
Whey Cheese Pudding
skysorbet, florentine and pistachio foam