Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Lækjarbrekka: Reykjavik, Iceland

Lækjarbrekka--the pronunciation is on you to figure out--was supposed to be our big "fancy" meal while in Reykjavik (that didn't strictly turn out to be the case, but that's a different story).  Their website is here, (in English, Icelandic, and Japanese) and we decided to go with the "Feasts" (prix fixé) menu.  These were three course meals, and while expensivish*, they were a pretty good deal, although wine was not included.  Which, by the way, the house red is quite nice.  Sadly, not all the feasts listed on the website were offered when we ate there, but no regrets were had.

*I understand that cost is relative, based on personal habits, income, currency conversion, and so forth.  I try to describe restaurant prices based off of what I think a more "normal" person would consider expensive, since I personally don't think $50 (excluding a 20% tip) is an unreasonable sum of money for a meal that someone else made and served to you, and I happily dropped nearly $500 on a meal for two once upon a time (note: totally worth it).  But that's just me.  PS  You should tip in the US.  If you can't afford to leave at least a 15% tip (based off the total bill) when you go out to eat, you can't afford to go out to eat.  Like it or hate it, that's how it goes.

I had the Icelandic Langustine Feast, which was slightly different than the website's menu.  The first course was creamy langustine soup with a taste of cognac and whipping cream, and it was absolutely divine.  Perfectly smooth, with the lovely sweetness of langustines, the warmth from the cognac, and the coolness from the cream.  Think of the best lobster bisque you've ever had, and this was probably better.  The flavours all played beautifully off one another, and did I mention the perfect, velvety smoothness?

My second course was langustine three ways.  The first way the tails were grilled in garlic butter (4 tails), which were beautifully flavoured, slightly crispy where they were grilled, and smooth and sweet and moist on the inside, and thankfully, popped from the shell (as is traditional with the tails, but still much appreciated; I hate having to pick at my food before I can consume it).  Also on the plate was tempura fried langustine chunks (about 2 tails worth), which were delicious, but probably the weakest part of the meal.  They were nice, but they just didn't shine compared to the other preparations.  Lastly were chunks of langustine (again, about 2 tails worth) in saffron sauce.  The langustine was very simply done; it might have just been poached in the saffron sauce, given how succulent and moist it was.  I'm not a big fan of saffron usually; I don't know why, but I don't like the flavour of saffron--normally this suits me fine, since I have expensive enough tastes already.  This sauce, however, could make me change my mind--I'm fairly certain the vast amounts of butter in the sauce may have had something to do with my enjoyment.  Icelandic butter is like crack, by the way, it's so good.  And there was a load of the buttery saffron sauce, so I was able to dunk my tempura langustine in it as well.

Third course was dessert, and that was an interesting concoction.  I adored the creativity, if I wasn't a big fan of the flavours.  Essentially, it was an ice cream torte: the bottom layer was solid dark chocolate (not ice cream, but chocolate), the middle layer was a blueberry sorbet (I don't really like blueberries), and the top layer was an anise ice cream (also don't really like anise).  The flavours all combined beautifully, however, and went very well with the strawberry coulis that was on the plate.  The combination of the textures was also really intriguing; a bit unexpected, but nice.  The solid crack of the cold dark chocolate, combined with the cold, ever-so-slightly grittiness of the blueberry sorbet, and the almost foamy smoothness of the anise ice cream.  All in all, totally worth trying, even if the flavours were not my first choices.

Adam had the Lamb Feast, which was also totally fabulous.  His first course was lamb carpaccio and smoked lamb with a crisp salad.  Choosing the better of the two preparations was not possible--they were both excellent in their own ways, and neither of us could decide which was better, though I wasn't given multiple chances to compare!  The carpaccio was buttery soft and smooth, as delicate as you'd expect lamb to be, and while I would have never thought of lamb carpaccio (more of a beef thing in my mind), I'm glad someone thought of it, because it works really well.  But then I like my meat cooked at medium or less (mostly less...I like steak tartare, carpaccio, and sushi, and pork should be pink in the middle).

His second course was roasted lamb with crispy roasted potatoes and a thyme sauce; simple, traditional preparation, and oh so tasty.  He was given the option of cooking time, and after a confused look at me (he didn't get lamb much before we met, and to be fair, not much after, either), he ordered it as the chef suggested, medium rare (which is how he eats his steaks, so that was ok).  It was probably the best of everything we ate at Lækjarbrekka, and that's really saying something.

But Adam's dessert was also to die for.  It was the chocolate special of the house, and it was three small chocolate dishes.  The first was a small ball of chocolate sorbet.  Again, simple, but the sweet and the chocolate were perfectly balanced, making for a rich, flavourful, but not heavy sorbet.  The second one was a tiny chocolate soufflé.  Again, simple and traditional, but soufflés do require some mastery, and this one was light and airy and moist, and rich, but not overpoweringly sweet.  And the size was really cute.  The last of the three was the true masterpiece, however.  It was a white chocolate mousse.  I'm not a mousse fan, nor do I particularly like white chocolate.  I would have cheerfully beaten Adam to death for it, however.  Perfectly smooth, a bit thin (which is probably what I liked it, but it also worked well to put a bit on the soufflé), and all the nice flavours that exist in white chocolate without the flavours that I associate with cheap tasting chocolate (as white chocolate so often does to me, even not-cheap white chocolate).

All in all, I would completely recommend Lækjarbrekka.  Lonely Planet describes it as having half an eye on the tourist dollar (krona, whatever), and while that may be true, the food was top notch, and the building is lovely.  The service was also good, though we had problems getting the bill.  We had this problem elsewhere in Iceland, so I think it might have something to do with us not understanding the local protocol.


Food is one of the great passions of life.  It's at the very least one of my passions.  This blog will share my cooking experiences and experiments, as well as all the tasty food that I encounter on my travels.  I'll also post about wine and beer, including our experiments in home brewing.