Last weekend, I dined at Matur og Drykkur with a few close friends – a new restaurant in the fish district of Reykjavík serving “Inspiring Traditional Icelandic Cuisine.”
The past month I have only heard good things about this place and I thought, since I missed out on the Þorrablot festivities, now was a great time to try a restaurant that served “good old traditional recipes and the best Icelandic ingredients to create fun and tasty food.”
I have, however, been hesitant.
In Iceland, we celebrate the month of Þorri (Thorri) in January and February as a tribute to old culture. We eat traditional Icelandic food called Þorramatur consisting of dried fish, sheep head, rotten shark, hung meat and lots of heavily salted or pickled food. There is a reason we only eat this once a year served with lots of brennivín (or all year round for poor tourists) – this food is sort of gross. And smelly!
So a restaurant specializing in this type of cuisine is harder than it sounds! The fact that the head chef and owner of Matur og Drykkur, Gísli Auðunsson, is able to serve such beautiful food that is tasty yet still maintains the tradtional Icelandic element is impressive. I imagine this is what the high-class Vikings were eating.
Matur og Drykkur “logo”
We were greeted at Matur og Drykkur by a witty host who was also our waiter for the evening. He started us off with a blueberry refreshing cocktail and then noted any allergies we may have before starting us on our chef tasting menu.
The first dish was dried fish, whey butter and pickled dulse. If you grow up in Iceland, then you grew up with dried fish. Dried fish is our beef jerky. We usually eat this with Icelandic butter, but now I need to figure out how to make whey butter…
Next came the double-smoked lamb with buttermilk and nutmeg and the pickled herring, rye bread, beets and cured egg yolk. I am not a smoked lamb fan and my Icelandic heritage has been questioned because of this, but I did like the pickled herring. If you go to a Þorrablot in Iceland, you WILL get smoked lamb and pickled herring – but it will not be this pleasing to the eye.
Trout smoked in sheep’s dung, horseradish and burnt flatbread. Did you read that? SHEEP´S DUNG! In Iceland, we love our sheep and back in the day, Vikings were resourceful during the cold winter months … which you can see at the Þorrablot buffets – serving svið (boiled lambs head), ram testicles, svið jelly, liver sausage, blood pudding…
I tasted this trout before I read how it was prepared and it was quite nice.
Salted cod croquettes and horseradish remoulade.
This was my favourite appetizer of the evening. It is fried and hot and the horseradish remoulade is delish.
„Lúðusúpa“ or Halibut soup with mussels, apples and raisins. Good but rich, so I decided to leave a bit since the main course was yet to come. This was not part of my childhood, but lúðasúpa was served daily at Alþingi.
Bluefin tuna, sea truffle paste and roes.
Lamb, potatoes, arctic thyme, rhubarb jam, winter kale and crowberry sauce. Sunday classic in Iceland. I am not kidding. My parents have lamb every. Sunday. Evening.
If you are visiting Iceland and want to eat like an Icelander, then try this delicious lamb.
Two of my friends do not eat meat – but eat fish – and they had the Arctic char with mashed potatoes, cucumber, smoked buttermilk and beer mustard. According to the menu, the earliest sources mentioning food in Iceland describe the streams and hollows of 872 as full of trout.
Trout is by far my favourite fish, but the lamb here is definitely the winner.
My non-meat eating friend:
Dish 8 (!)
Icelandic twisted doughnut “Kleina” and caramelized whey.
Kleina’s are the reason I gained 20 kg my first year after moving to Iceland. They are just so good. And they are available in every bakery in the city. And there are bakeries on every f*ing corner in Reykjavík. So I stopped eating them unless it is a special occasion.
This was a real treat.
Next time I want to try the cod head cooked in chicken stock with dulse. The table of 10 next to us ordered this as a main course and what a site. Ten massive cod heads on a dish…staring at you while eating. It smelled heavenley though!
The most surprising thing about this evening is that I am not exploding from being full. The serving sizes are appropriate and we left feeling comfortably satisfied.
Now I know what all the hype is about!
Takk fyrir mig Matur og Drykkur
Tags: icelandic food, matur og drykkur
Made in the USA to parents made in Iceland. After graduating from the University of Florida and working a year in Finance in Washington DC, I wanted to give Iceland a try and be closer to family. I finished my masters degree in Financial Economics, but love fashion, beauty, health and spiritual wellness. I still feel like an American in Iceland and like an Icelander in the States, but both are home.
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