Nearing the end of our holiday and feeling the onslaught of something akin to gout, we steered towards the more simple and straightforward end of our list of restaurants.
IcelandicFish & Chips is a buzzing bistro that claims to serve the classic dish in a healthier way, and has organic credentials. Daily fish specials are fried in the owner’s own spelt and barley batter, and chips are substituted for potatoes roasted in either garlic or rosemary, or plain with Maldon sea salt.
Ling and Blue Ling were chosen to be coated in the aforementioned special batter. Substantial chunks of fish with lovely firm white flakes, as you’d expect from members of the Cod family, had been steamed perfectly while enveloped in their coat of golden batter. The Blue Ling, we thought, provided more depth of flavour than the common variety. Onion rings deep fried in the same spelt and barley batter were spectacular - shards of crisp batter giving way to the meltingly sweet onion inside. Being an avid chip lover, the potatoes didn’t really do it for me and were overly greasy, making me wonder whether proper chips might actually have been a healthier option. Homemade accompaniments on offer include ketchup and Skyr mayonnaises.
Busy tables, happy diners and a queue of waiting customers demonstrate that Icelandic Fish & Chips clearly has a winning formula, as well as being exceptionally good value.
And finally to the most quirky dining experience of our trip - Saegreifinn. Run by the Sea Baron, a retired fisherman who came up with the recipe for what has been called the “world’s greatest lobster soup” by Egon Ronay.
The lobster soup is the main dish on the menu, but there’s also a wide range of seafood served kebab style including Mink Whale, Angler, Catfish, Cod, Skate, Lobster, Halibut, Salmon, Lemon Sole, Plaice, Blue Ling, River Trout, and the Sea Baron’s famous smoked Eel.
It is the lobster soup however that takes pride of place. Served in a mug, the rich and deeply flavoured broth carries nuggets of sweet lobster (actually langoustine, which are sometimes called Icelandic lobsters). We also purchased a ridiculously generous pile of sweet scallops for pennies.
While not the most comfortable of dining experiences, perched on sea buoys and surrounded by fishing memorabilia - and a stuffed seal - I’ve never tasted anything quite like that soup, and would happily have guzzled a further mug or three. There were plans for this tiny place in the old harbour to be demolished to make way for luxury apartments. Who would have thought the economic downturn would have benefits?