With new gastronomical adventures awaiting in Iceland for a short weekend visit, first thing’s first, to pick up one of Lotus Car's new, affordable and reliable cars with their personalised service and own personal touch making our trip so much more pleasurable knowing that we are looked after with weather updates and advice.
Arriving in Reykjavik we are always drawn to the old harbour district which is fast developing as the cool part of town with its many boutiques and restaurants. And now it has its own street food hall, Grandi Mathöll (Foodhall at Grandi), inspired by the great European food halls. And as you would expect they get it just right in the curious Icelandic capital of culinary delights, doing justice to this new and innovative way of feeding the traveller who loves to explore food from around the world as well as the local produce. Here we can celebrate Icelandic culture and industry being informed that the idea for the hall was conceived in the innovation centre upstairs.
The food hall, which overlooks the harbour with expanding views of the iconic Harpa Concert Hall and the colourful fish vessels in the old harbour, is located in a refurbished fish factory in the Grandi Harbor district of Reykjavik. Here you will find several artisanal food stands like Kore who serves a wild style spicy fried fast food, LA-style Korean TaKo, NY Korean Fried Chicken and Soju wine from the motherland, simply delicious and a great start into this culinary journey.
For bubbles and the most delicious salmon and fresh seafood, childhood friends Dagbjört, Inga and Sirrý bring luxury to your daily life and the Icelandic food culture with a wonderful combination of sparkling wine and seafood at Lax (Salmon). Salmon is the main fish on the menu, cured, smoked and grilled, with a selection of hot and cold seafood according to the season being the first in Iceland to have a super cool Prosecco on tap, perfect to enjoy at the bar table.
FJÁRHÚSIÐ (Sheep shelter) specialises in Icelandic lamb, known for its unequalled quality and distinct delicate taste originating in the freedom the animals enjoy in Icelandic nature. They roam freely in the mountains over summer, feeding from a varied menu of herbs and grasses, then gathered by farmers in the beginning of autumn. The chefs here also grow their own herbs and vegetables and offer spring water from the north-east of Iceland, a real treat if you are so inclined.
Fusion Fish and Chips is not to be missed, offering probably the best fish and chips we have ever tasted, a fusion of different traditions and classic dishes with a new approach including some Nordic and Japanese influences enhancing the main ingredient of Icelandic cod which is caught and processed by the family running the stall, the raw material 100% traceable.
Still feeling peckish? Well, fear not, The Gastro Truck is a food truck serving juicy take-away food with a twist with their Crispy Spicy Chicken Burger (also available in a vegetarian version). The idea is to offer high quality street-food that could bear a label of gastronomy. It means easy and accessible take-away food which is full of nutrients and pure, fresh ingredients.
To round up this delectable experience, Vietnam offers high quality and colourful dishes, with fresh Icelandic ingredients and if this was not enough there is also The Pop-Up Truck allowing entrepreneurs to sell their dishes without having to incur significant costs for starting up a restaurant, having the truck on a trial basis for a couple of months.
Last, but not least, we enjoy a glass of a rather splendid Bourgogne red from Micro Roast Vinbar, situated in the middle of Grandi Mathöll with a great view of the harbour. Already looking forward visiting the sister venue, Hlemmur Mathöll, occupying a former bus stop shelter in the east of the old town, we have been told what not to miss of their gastronomical spectrum, one being the arctic char at Kröst, the brainchild of one of the most exciting young chefs around, Böðvar Lemacks. It is a tempting prospect to try everything on the menu, but our modest choice of fine French wines, cured meats, and various grilled delicacies leave us wanting for more for our next visit.
Taqueria La Poblana serves authentic Mexican tacos and other delicious fare from the region. Founder Juan Carlos Peregrina Guarneros cooks food the way his mamá and nana taught him: Home-made soft corn tortillas served with delicious meats and veggies and freshly made chili sauces. By contrast, Skál! is an experimental bar & restaurant with a focus on foraged Icelandic ingredients and local traditions. Behind Skál! are chef and entrepreneur Gísli Matthías (founder of Slippurinn and Matur og Drykkur) and Björn Steinar Jónsson, founder of the Saltverk saltworks in Reykjanes.
Authentic Vietnamese street food is on offer at Bahn Mi: Vietnamese coffee and bánh mí sandwiches formed at a crossroads between French and Vietnamese cuisine. This medley of crisp pickles, savoury meats, sriracha, and fresh aromatics may just be the perfect sandwich. All based on Davíð Viet Quoc's secret family recipe passed down through generations. For the Icelandic counterpart, at Rabbar Barinn you will enjoy fresh, locally-grown vegetables, bright flowers, warming soups, juicy sandwiches, and wholesome juices. Bryndís Sveinsdóttir transports the freshest available produce directly from volcanic soil into the city's tote bags contributing to this very wholesome menu.
With these varied selections of local and exotic foods the new Reykjavik food halls have proven to be a success, centres of attraction for the busy tourist. Next time around there will undoubtedly be new choices, new tastes, new aromas filling the halls. Something to look forward to.