Monday, September 19, 2016

Food Affair: Fine Dining In Iceland with Strikid, Akureyri

After a whole week camping out in the wilderness of Iceland eating mediocre camping food, I’ve finally had enough. So I researched online in search of the best restaurant in Akureyri, and handpicked Strikið Restaurant and Bar to take care of our first splurge dinner in Iceland. It is voted by travelers as one of the top 3 restaurants to visit in Akureyri, at first, I was a little wary of it being a tourist trap, but turned out, it was not only good, it went beyond my expectation.  


Right off the main shopping street in downtown, located on the 5th floor of an office building, Strikið is a one of a kind upscale restaurant that offers sublime Icelandic cuisine with a killer view. I did a huge mistake by arriving at the restaurant with my backpack, camping gears, wearing my camping clothes. As the elevator door opened, we saw the Sunday-night crowd all in their finest semi-casual (at least) clothing. While I was still weighing between running away or digging a hole, a waitress warmly greeted us and asked if we would like to keep our bags in the storeroom. Oh yes please, what a relieve!  

Ambiance and Service

       We were politely ushered to our table, which was should I say, the best table in the restaurant? Our table was strategically placed at the right corner of the indoor setting next to the glass wall, offering an unobstructed vista of the oceans and the great fjord. The restaurant has a beautiful patio, which I would love to grab a seat if it wasn’t drizzling. 
       Strikið apparently is a popular choice among travelers and locals alike, attracting patrons of all ages: there was a group of 20-something celebrating a birthday, 2 middle-age having their first date (sorry it was pretty obvious), a group of 40-50ish men in their suits and ties (seriously? on a Sunday night?)… and many many more. People kept flocking in as the evening went on.  
       The ambiance was sophisticated, upscale-chic yet minimalist. The space was tastefully furnished with simple contemporary items and decor.  
We were introduced to our waiter of the night, who is a friendly, attentive gentlemen. Despite having a full house, the menu is handed to us promptly along  with the complimentary table bread. 


       Browsing through the menu, I noticed that they have a fun selection of cocktails so instead of sticking to Icelandic beer, I decided to take a fun spin: N° Iceland. We also took the Pioneer Sauvignon Blanc, the table wine.

       Our menu was customized that evening, the main chef, Mr. Garðar Kári Garðarsson put together a pretty impressive 7-courses meal, starting with the creamy Shellfish soup. The soup itself was orangeish-yellow in color with green dill oil floating on top. Shredded ginger and coconut added to the texture, roasted tiger shrimp was juicy and the Caridean shrimp and mussels are as fantastic. 

       When our appetizer hit the table, I lose it. First of all, the Reindeer and Puffin appetizer wowed me with its outstanding dish presentation. I’ve never eaten cured reindeer before, so when I tasted the first (extremely) thin slice, I was surprised that it actually melted in my mouth. As for the lightly smoked puffins, it was hard to put it in words... well I think they are a little chewy and whats the word... fishy? The turnips at the side were fresh and crunchy. The stout-cooked swede, delicious. 

       Not just a feast to the eyes, our starter-- White Skate and Arctic Charr was exceptional, with cherry tomato, black garlic, and celeriac root served as sides. A little sweet, a tinge of sourness, the flavors were extremely well balanced. 

       Our mains were served by the chef himself, explaining to us the highlights of each dish, what a nice personal touch. Our Wolffish and Caridean Shrimp were cooked to perfection and the pairing with potato mousse, parsnip, and mussels sauce was out of this world. The touches of lemon and capers added to the color (and flavor). 

The Lamb Pelvis and Shoulder was nothing short of a masterpiece. Lovely presentation aside, basically, those luscious pieces of lamb won the love of my palate. The sides consisted of angelica-rhubarb (one of the few vegetables that thrive in the north oceanic climate) purre and fenne salad dressed lightly with fragrant herb vinaigrette was simply delightful.  

       You thought I am done luring you with food but no, don’t you know girls have another stomach specially for desserts? I mean, how could anyone resist the lure of desserts? The chef served us with the local's favorite, skyr... only ours were elevated to a whole new level with a generous amount of the freshest berries, nuts, top with chocolate ice cream, decorated with herbs and flower. According to the chef, those berries and herbs were hand-picked by him that morning before coming to work. In short, allow me to say: such a perfect ending to a perfect meal.  


       As you can see, the head chef did a terrific job emphasizing on taste and artistic plating, the presented skills (as well as dedication) of the chef at Strikid are top-notch. The portion of each dish is generous. I thoroughly enjoyed the meal. 
       Although the price is high (in-line with other restaurants), so is everything in Iceland. Well, you'll have to accept this as a matter of fact in order to truly enjoy what Iceland has to offer (in terms of food, you know all those landscapes are free for all to enjoy). And let me assure you that it is definitely worth the splurge
       At the end of the feast, I met with the chef once again to express my gratitude for his effort and all those well-executed dishes…... at the same time planning his abduction in my mind. 

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Thank You for Reading! 
Miss Happy Feet was a guest of Strikid Restaurant. However, all photos and opinion are as always, my own. 

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