Review: Við Pollinn at Hotel Ísafjarðar, Westfjords

After a long travel day I had a quick nap and shower before meeting my guide Gustaf. My first dinner in Westfjords was at Við Pollinn, conveniently located at the Hotel Ísafjarðar. The restaurant is one of the regions most elegant and does an excellent job at showcasing the bounty so unique to Westfjord.  I was seated at a table right beside the window which allowed me to stare at a towering snow capped fjord in the distance. I started off by ordering a Viking Lager one of Iceland’s most popular local brews. Our dinner was an interesting adventure through the unique culinary landscape of Westfjords.

We started off with a bowl which when under the nose reminded me of the ocean. The dish was made up of perfectly cooked fried linge and warm mussels with a sweet carrot vinaigrette. Our second dish was most unique, featuring two breasts of wild fowl which nest along the regions tall cliffs. Most interesting was the blackbird which tasted gamey but also had a lingering aroma of ocean breeze. It was as if the flesh of these birds had consumed ocean salt which now perfumed my palate. The poached pears, rhubarb and blueberries all created a nice contrast with the razorbill while showcasing the regions fresh seasonal fruits. Our final dish was a trio of sweets with a unique highlight being the dessert made of skyr. Skyr is an Icelandic cultured dairy product, similar to strained yogurt. Technically, it is a fresh acid-set cheese but is consumed in a similar fashion with fresh fruit in the morning. It is much thicker (almost a paste) than most North American yogurts and worked well with the chef’s mango selection. I finished off dessert with a cup of espresso (to give me a buzz for the hours of writing I had ahead of me), glass of cognac (to warm my soul) and a plate of truffle chocolates (one needs no reason).

The Menu:

pan fried linge with mussels and carrot vinaigrette

fried razorbill and blackbird with red wine poached pears, rhubarb compote and blueberry sauce

chocolate cake and skyr mango cake served with ice cream

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