|EATING FISH MORNING, NOON AND NIGHT: A sandwich with smoked and cured fish I assembled from the breakfast buffet at the Icelandair Hotel Reykjavik Natura.|
|NOON: Fylgifiskar, a popular Reykjavik fish market with tables and chairs, offers a lunch platter with servings from two of the three fish entrees prepared that day, along with roasted potatoes and salad, plus free crab spread, bread and coffee.|
AND NIGHT: A creamy soup with tender, lobster-like langoustine tails and scallops is part of the fixed-price seafood gourmet feast at Fish Company, one of Reykjavik's best restaurants.
SNAPS BISTRO BAR
IS MY TOP PICK IN REYKJAVIK
By VICTOR E. SASSON
REYKJAVIK, Iceland -- If you love seafood, this big island in the North Atlantic is your paradise on earth.
One of the greatest fishing nations in the world follows through with some of the greatest seafood restaurants I've ever seen.
At the best places, prices easily equal or surpass Manhattan's finest, including Marea and Esca, with a la carte entrees going for about $35 to $85 each.
One concession is that even though Iceland is considered part of Europe, tipping is unnecessary.
Budget dining is an oxymoron in Reykjavik, the capital city, unless you eat fast food.
You'll find the best restaurants packed with Icelanders, tourists and foreign business people on expense accounts, and dinner reservations are a must.
Restaurants serve an astonishing variety of seafood from pristine waters prepared in imaginative ways, and service is usually excellent.
On a week-long vacation, our dinners for two ranged from $73 to $223 with wine or beer, lunches for two were $28 to $64; and breakfasts for two ran from $62 for a huge hotel buffet to $73 for hummus, eggs and coffee at The Grey Cat, a funky basement cafe (all checks included an 11% tax on food and alcoholic drinks).
If you're a meat and poultry eater, many fine-dining restaurants serve Iceland's superb free-range, grass-fed lamb, as well as naturally raised beef.
You'll also see meat from minke whales and puffin on menus, but I wasn't interested in either.
Portions in fine-dining restaurants are generous, so we could have spent less by sharing entrees. Unfortunately, I eat only seafood, and while my wife loves fish, she also enjoys beef, lamb and chicken.
And when we chose a three-course, fixed-price dinner over ordering a la carte, we couldn't finish our food, especially if we drank beer and ate the complimentary bread.
My thanks to Bo Olafsson, whose family owns and operates The Fish Dock, an Icelandic fish market in Closter, N.J., for tips on where to eat in Reykjavik.
You can also find guidance at the website of the free English-language newspaper, The Reykjavik Grapevine.
|Menus show prices in Icelandic kronas. During our stay, each U.S. dollar was worth about 104 to 108 kronas, according to the exchange rate on my credit-card statements. The bills shown are worth roughly $10 (1,000 kronas) and $50 (5,000 kronas).|
|Snaps Bistro is in a residential neighborhood in Reykjavik.|
Service was terrific: Preparation of dishes and ingredients were explained in detail.
Our dinner of Langoustine Tails, Arctic Wolffish; and grass-fed Lamb Chops with fries, a green salad and bearnaise sauce -- washed down with a quarter-bottle of red wine -- totaled 14,550 Icelandic kronas or about $137.
Snaps Bistro has the perfect balance of food quality, sophisticated preparation, service and price.
Website: Snaps Bistro Bar
|Granola is served with bread and butter, and you can get extra-virgin olive oil on request.|
|We drank beer, including this Icelandic White Ale (about $14 a bottle).|
|The hefty check came in an empty purse.|
|We walked in circles until we saw this sign to Fish Company, which is down a flight of stone steps on the lower level of a building.|
At Fish Company, we made the mistake of taking the server's suggestion to order a price-fixed, three-course seafood gourmet feast called Around Reykjavik, listed on the menu for 8,400 Icelandic kronas per person (more than $80 each).
The creamy soup with langoustine and scallops was sinful, and I've never had halibut that was so fresh and tender.
But we ate bread, and each of us had two bottles of beer ($14 to $15 each), so there was way too much food.
When my wife couldn't finish one of the large pieces of halibut on her plate, our server said the restaurant didn't supply takeout containers.
So, we asked for just the sorbet portion of the elaborate dessert listed, and I ate the last of her halibut.
Our check totaled 22,800 kronas or about $210.
Website: Under a Bridge
Indian food in Iceland
At Austur-Indiafjelagid, an Indian restaurant in Reykjavik, I ordered a delicious, fresh-tasting Tandoori Salmon.
My wife had the Goshi Kalimirchi Dinner with big pieces of grass-fed lamb, which she couldn't finish.
We drank Mango Lassis and ate Garlic Naan bread.
I looked in envy at another couple demolishing an enormous lamb shank, two side dishes and plenty of basmati rice, and thought me and my wife have to start sharing dishes.
Our check totaled 12,085 kronas or about $112.
|My wife's dinner of Indian-style Icelandic lamb.|
|A Mango Lassi is a blend of yogurt, water, spices and fruit.|
|A private dining room at Austur-Indiafjelagid.|
My wife's entree of tender whole Langoustine Tails and Icelandic Flounder.
I was bowled over by my entree of Icelandic Catfish with Pesto covered in an array of fresh greens and vegetables, including shaved corn. The restaurant says it buys directly from farmers and fishermen.
The restaurant is so popular we had a time limit of 2 hours after we arrived for our reservation, but that wasn't enough time to have Fish Market's highly touted tasting menu (about $115 per person).
Each of us had an a la carte appetizer and entree, plus a large glass of beer.
The extraordinary seafood was matched by the service, and even food runners can describe what went into your dish and how it was prepared.
Our check totaled 23,380 kronas or about $223.
Website: Iceland's Freshest Ingredients
A skewer of monkfish at Sea Baron, an informal seafood restaurant near Reykjavik Harbor.
Skewers of fresh seafood are displayed in a refrigerated case in Sea Baron's front dining room. You order and pay at the register before you are seated.
A weird touch is this wax figure of the restaurant's founder seated in a corner of the rear dining room.
|Lobster Soup is the best dish at Sea Baron.|
Then, we were shown to a table that was still covered with the mess left by previous customers. What a turnoff.
The best dish we had was a small bowl of Sea Baron's tender Lobster Soup.
Website: Try the lobster soup
We returned to Fylgifiskar, a fish market that serves lunch, on our last day in Iceland for bowls of Oriental Fish Soup, made with coconut milk and coriander, and fragrant with Thai spices, above and below (about $15 each).
When we had lunch the week before at Fylgifiskar, one of the selections was Ling with Moroccan spices, left, made with shelled pistachios and pitted black olives. On Facebook: The Fish that Follows Other Fish.