☆ Dill Restaurant, Iceland

Our reservation for Dill Restaurant was made in early Jan 2015 after Chef Tom Kerridge from UK was seen visiting them during his trip. We had a pleasant surprise, when we realised that they were one of the participating restaurants for the Food and Fun Festival in Reykjavik from 25th Feb to 1st Mar 15, moments before we make our way to the restaurant.

The core element of the festival involves world-acclaimed chefs travelling from France, Italy, Scandinavia and the USA and collaborating with some of Reykjavik‘s finest eateries. Each chef is assigned to a participating restaurant and collaborates with the host Chef to prepare a special menu made from Icelandic ingredients only. Chef Even Ramsvik from Norway was the chef at Dill Restaurant for the week-long event. His restaurant- Ylajali in Oslo, Norway had been awarded 1 Michelin star in 2014. We are excited to be able to enjoy a dinner by 2 established Chefs in one seating.

Dinner commenced with 3 snacks starting with Pickled carrot, fresh cheese, caraway seeds. The toast was crispy and went well with the cheese. It was followed by Beetroot, chicken  liver, roasted yeast. The staff reminded us to hold the chicken liver using the leaf which was used to wrap over the beetroot which will otherwise stain our fingers. Lastly, the crispy chicken skin, smoked eel, onion powder which was like a light and airy cracker.

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For the dinner menu, there were 2 options either the small menu with 4 courses or the big menu with 7 courses. Since its our one and only proper dinner in Iceland, we went for the 7 courses one.

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The first dish was Raw shrimp, frozen seatextures, miso, parsley. The raw shrimp was succulent and very fresh. Next was Salted cod, celeriac apple, fried cod cream. Iceland is one of the main producing countries of salted cod and is mainly produced in the town of Grindavík. While fermented shark seems too obnoxious for us, we were happy to try salted cod as it is also a very iconic Icelandic cuisine. The salted cod we had was cured and not the dried type, hence the flesh remained pretty firm. Unlike the Chinese salted fish, this salted cod doesn’t taste that salty afterall.

Third dish was Leek, hazelnuts, löjrom, seaweed, sour cream. The leek was first thrown into the charcoal fire and cooked till its outer layer became charred. It is then stripped down to its inner core before serving hence it has a char-grilled aroma. I particularly enjoyed the Löjrom (Swedish delicacy, roe of the bleak fish) with the sour cream.

I had to google to find out what a “Rutabagas” was, in case its something that we don’t eat. Turns out it is a type of turnip. So we went ahead with the dish of Rutabagas, cream cheese, sweet and sour DILL oil, millet. The rutabagas has a texture that is somewhat starchy like a potato, with a slight nutty taste.

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Fried pork belly, kale, black garli, salsify, pork jus, sol was our main course. The pork belly was rich, juicy and so tender that it almost melts-in-the-mouth. A well-executed dish that doesn’t have much of the gamey taste.

After 2.5 hours, we finally arrived at the desserts. First being Skyr, celery, roasted oats. When we saw Skyr on the menu, we were thinking “Oh well, we’ve tried this. We know what this is.“. It didn’t cross our mind that it turned out to be so different from what we had in mind. The skyr mixed with celery and topped with crushed oats, turning it into a totally different dish. I liked the resulted texture of crunchy celery with nutty oats.

Lastly the Winter apples, green juniper, frozen buttermilk. I liked how it has a crisp thin layer (akin to the layer on creme brulee) and the frozen buttermilk. A nice refreshing end to our meal.

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The check was delivered in a nice Icelandic wool pouch…how I wish I could bring this home…

P.S Chef Even Ramsik went on to win Food & Fun Festival Chef of the Year 2015. =)

Photos from the previous nights, our trip to the magical Ice Cave in the morning and the trip back to Reykjavik from Hofn:

Ring road_04

1st night at the countryside with clear sky but no sight of the Northern Lights…But guess what, the next morning the staff at the guesthouse asked “Did you see the lights last night? There was a little at around 11pm.” We were both stunned as we were so tired that we only woke up from 12am onwards to wait for the lights…. =(

The 2nd night…when I woke up and saw the dazzling stars in the sky when I peered through the window, I decided to go out and snap some nice starry sky photos when “Voilà! I saw the green hue from the camera photo!”. That’s how I got my first shot of the Northern Lights. The lights were not exactly visible to the human eye despite having an activity level of 3-4 that night. I quickly changed the direction of my tripod and attempted to take a few more shots.

Northern Lights_01

Though its not a spectacular display, at least we can say that we’ve seen the Northern Lights before and get it checked on my bucket list. But after seeing this, I yearn to visit Norway or Finland in hopes of catching a more visible and stronger aurora… (I know…greed is a sin). Stayed 2 days at Guesthouse Skalafell for 2 big reasons – Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon and the chance to catch sight of Northern Lights.

Northern Lights_02

There’s so much to take in during this trip, many firsts for me. First time seeing Geyser, Northern Lights and now the Ice Cave! Went to one in the Vatnajökull with Ice Walk. It was AWESOME…the group almost didn’t want to leave when the time’s up!

Vatnajökull Ice cave_01

A hard time choosing which photos to use here.

Vatnajökull Ice cave_02

Chose one with a man in it to show the size of the cave we were in. After finishing the tour, we made our way back to Reykjavik and stopped by the Black sand beach at Reynisdrangar. We didn’t get to see the beach 2 days ago cos it was too foggy when we arrived. The sky was clear today but it was still very windy.

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The basalt sea stacks holding strong fighting against the relentless pounding of the raging waves. Our tripod almost toppled from the wind force…while other photographer’s sturdy tripod managed to hold its ground.

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The black sand actually looked more like polished pebbles upon closer observation. Really liked the many geological sights in Iceland which presented great photo opportunities. A pity that my photography skills couldn’t capture the full spirit of the majestic landscapes here… Iceland is undoubtedly a wonderful place for photographers to visit, they’ll be guaranteed to have a whale of a time here.

[Update in 2017]

Dill Restaurant becomes the first Iceland Restaurant to earn a Michelin Star!

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