'Exotic' tasting menu - 8.900 ISK
2004 Conde Nast Traveller Hot Table
The Seafood Cellar - the pearl of Icelandic gastronomy - is probably Iceland’s best restaurant. The sublime taste and innovative presentation of the food is one step ahead of Vox , Gallery, Silfur and other premier restaurants. Condé Nast even gave the Seafood Cellar the coveted ‘Hot Tables’ award in 2004.
The flagship 'Exotic' tasting menu consists of three courses, but add everything together and you have at least 12 different dishes to taste. I‘d therefore thoroughly recommend you go there feeling very hungry.........
And a message for meat-loving landlubbers: don’t worry, it’s not all seafood! A third of the Exotic Menu is made up of meat dishes, but because they’re light meats, you can easily get away with ordering just a gutsy white wine for the whole meal. With this kind of exciting fusion food, the fail-safe wine option is an Alsace Pinot Gris (I recommend the Trimbach at 6,200 ISK) but you could try other powerful aromatic whites such as a Riesling and Gewurztraminer.
Now where do I start? There were so many dishes that I may have confused a sauce or two, but to emphasise the vast scale of the feast, I have written down all the dishes on the menu:
Starters - 4 dishes
- French bread with sesame oil blend and nut mixture. Unusual but delicious spin on the usual bread/tapenade spiel.
- Seared cold reindeer fillet with bonito sauce and blackberries. Soft and light, the reindeer melted in my mouth but was given a tasty kick by the bonito sauce and blackberry combo.
- Sashimi selection; salmon, tuna and white tuna with red ginger and red & green seaweed - served on a rock of ice. Perfect fresh fish with intriguing salty seaweed and captivating iceberg.
- Fat, juicy, hot lobster tails in rich and creamy foie gras and truffle sauce. No doubt the pièce de résistance of the evening and was probably the most heavenly (but completely debauched) concoction to have ever passed my lips.
Main Courses - 3+ dishes
- Roast pork wrapped in bacon, served on truffle mash with a fried shredded pork ball in breadcrumbs. Juicy, but a rather fatty, cut of belly pork redeemed by heavenly crispy pork ball and deeply flavoured truffle-infused mashed potatoes.
- Huge mound of strips of duck with foie gras & bacon sauce and Jerusalem artichoke frittata. The duck was a bit tough but still tasty, and a lovely spin on the Jerusalem artichokes.
- Monkfish with cauliflower puree. A great combo of delicate fish and an incredibly pure taste of cauliflower.
- Tempura and plain fried saltfish. Interesting and great way to prepare salt fish.
- Tuna with truffle mash. Another dose of truffle mash - this time a bit strong for the soft, pink tuna.
- Salmon with mustard sauce. Fried salmon is always pretty heavy to start with, but with a powerful mustard sauce my stomach was starting to groan.
Desserts - 2 dishes
- Creamy chocolate mousse with explosive sherbet pieces, galangal ice cream and coffee biscuit. A very subtle, creamy mousse jazzed up by bizarre exploding sensations in your mouth. Refreshing ginger-likel ice cream was top class.
- Blueberry, strawberry and energydrink sorbets with fresh dragon fruit, kiwi, strawberries, raspberries and blackberries - presented on a dry ice waterfall. The refreshing fruits and sorbets were a perfect ending to a marathon of a meal, but the star of the show was without doubt when thick white clouds cascaded out of our dessert, across the table and down onto our laps!!
The main problem with the Seafood Cellar, and this is an observation which I have heard a few times, is that the venue feels a little cheap. The clean decor and clever low lighting hides what are essentially rather unglamorous pieces of furniture and fittings. My dinner partner was right when she said it had an air of “clean punishment”. The management could also have splashed out on some better glasses and, as a friend reported a few months earlier, the glasses were streaked and unpolished. I guess they thought the low lighting would hide that.......
At 7,900 ISK for the Exotic Menu, it may seem pricey but it's well worth the splurge. Don’t let my finickety criticisms put you off this fabulous treasure-trove of a restaurant.