Iceland is a land of exquisite beauty and breath-taking vistas. But for me, that wasn’t its only draw. It’s a culinary destination that I was eager to experience. Especially enticing was the opportunity to savor freshly caught seafood from pristine waters. My research began with one requirement—to find restaurants that did not serve whale. (Note – I found out that most Icelanders don’t even eat whale; it’s mostly on the menu for tourists.)
One restaurant floated to the top of my list—Resto. Not only were the reviews glowing, but it happened to be only a block from our hotel. It was the first reservation I made, two months in advance.
As we entered Resto, there was a warm feeling to the décor and even a golden glow as the sun was dipping toward the horizon. Comfortably ensconced at a table by a window, we perused the charmingly handwritten menu. I couldn’t decide between the specials and asked our server for advice. She didn’t hesitate, recommending the sautéed plaice with capers, parsley, and butter.
Wow, was she ever right! It was the most tender, moist piece of fish I’d ever had. It literally melted like butter in my mouth. The capers were the perfect complement, giving a hint of saltiness to the flakes of succulent fish. I savored my dish, thankful to have discovered such a gem of a restaurant in Resto.
Mom, who has quite a small appetite, chose an appetizer for her meal: garlic sautéed scallops with curry, apples, and coconut cream. It, too, was spectacular. As with my fish, the scallops were cooked to tender perfection. (Note – Icelandic scallops are quite small, more similar in size to bay scallops than the larger sea scallops.)
Mom and I aren’t big on sweets, so we skipped dessert. Yes, I know, blasphemy. Nonetheless, we left the restaurant quite satisfied. As a matter of fact, after such an incredible dinner, I couldn’t imagine leaving Iceland without indulging in another meal at Resto.
On our last day, as we drove back from the Snaefellsnes peninsula, mom and I phoned, hoping to luck out and get a table. Unfortunately, they were booked solid but told us to call back later; perhaps they’d be able to fit us in. After I hung up, I looked expectantly at mom, wanting her opinion on our chances. She said not to worry, we’d be in epicurean heaven again, without question.
I’ve learned to never doubt mom. When we called back, we were told to come on in. As we walked over, I mulled over the menu. Should I order the plaice again? Do I try something new? If only we had more time to sample the whole menu!
Once again, I asked our server for advice. “Try something new,” he urged, suggesting the sautéed ling with langoustine and a Madeira sauce. I was speechless, yet again. I didn’t know that langoustine could be so tender. It takes a deft hand for seafood to be so expertly prepared. The impeccable skill of the chef shined through.
The ling was a perfect accompaniment to the richer langoustine. And the side of potato purée was ideal for sopping up any remains of the delicious sauce.
Salmon is mom’s favorite fish, and she couldn’t resist the salmon tartar appetizer. It was accompanied by an artfully displayed egg yolk, which added a hint of richness to the dish. Mom called it the best salmon she’s ever had.
We were also craving salad, so the chef went off-menu and made a vibrant and colorful fresh salad for us to share. Even the salad was beautifully plated.
We decided to indulge in a little dessert, sharing vanilla ice cream with berry chutney (which the chef split on two plates for us). The ice cream was luscious and creamy and the not-too-sweet chutney gave a nice contrast in both flavor and texture.
It was the perfect dinner with which to end our trip. My compliments to the owners, Chef Johann Helgi Johannsson and his wife, Ragnheidur Helen Edvardsdottir, on creating a wonderful place to experience Icelandic cuisine at its finest.
105 Reykjavík, Iceland
+354 546 9550