Located just a stone throw away from the picturesque harbor, Matur og Drykkur shares a building with the Saga Museum. We walked there after a relaxing morning tour with Bike Reykjavik. We couldn’t find the restaurant at first glance despite it being pretty noticeable just around the corner. The fact is that the appearance of the restaurant from the outside is not exciting enough for an innovative restaurant. But once we got in, the appearance doesn’t matter anymore. It was so low-key, yet such a hidden gem.
Ambiance and Service
Our charming waitress who spoke excellent English ushered us to our table. Her service was friendly, relaxed yet very attentive, she really did her best to make sure we had the best experience. When it comes to drink pairing, she was more than excited to talk us through our options: Icelandic ales, Icelandic schnapps….
Setting inside an old fish processing factory, the decoration is eclectic yet classy, with welcoming quirky vibes filling every corner of the quaint space. In the background, there is a huge timeless black-and-white photo reminding the patrons what it was like to be in this building hundreds of years ago.
Looking at the menu, it is not hard to figure out that the great team from Matur og Drykkur draws inspiration from the history of the property. Undoubtedly they've mastered the best kind of storytelling, through the flavors, taste, and smell.
I loved the fact that there is a bar area where you can watch the chef as they plate the dish.
The table bread was the first to reach our table. Oh, how do I even start… the dense homemade caraway seeds bread was amazing enough. When eaten with decadently creamy whey butter, it set the bar extremely high for the rest of the day.
We took a customized Icelandic menu, which consisted of 6 separate courses. I almost had a heart attack looking at the menu that reads “…. in sheep dung” but when the dishes started showing up on the table, every creepy little doubt just vanished. Each of them is beautifully presented on mismatch plates, looking absolutely mouthwatering, so relax, don’t let "dung" in the name deters you.
The explosion of flavors sent my taste bud into an utter craze. Although they might sound radical to average internet-trained cooks like myself, the bold flavors actually complement each other surprisingly well.
Let me run you through the great stuff I’ve happily sent into my GIT. The party started with 3 entrees: Lamb chips, Fish chips and Trout smoked in sheep dung... What?! Yes, you read it right, but believe me, it tasted exceptionally incredible... Well, its okay if you don't believe me... God knows a dish that has the word "dung" in its name could taste gourmet? You just have to come and try it yourself!
|Lamb chips, Iceland|
|Trout smoked in sheep dung|
Next up, the double smoked lamb chips, which they were smoked 2 times with buttermilk and nutmeg.
The fish chips is another local favorite. I heard that in the past, Icelander dried the fish in order to store them up for winter. It was served with browned butter and pulse.
The desserts were great. I had Skyr exalted by strawberries and licorice crumbles. And my travel partner opted for the beautifully twisted Klein and caramelized whey. Those twisty treats put sweet and savory to a perfect balance.
Now for the main, the Whole Cod head reminds me of home. Well, in Malaysia we have a similar dish called the Curry Fish Head. The concept and purpose are the same, which is: a dish made out of unwanted fish heads turned out to be the bomb! However, Icelanders' take of fish head is slightly different. After exporting the other "good parts" of the cod to Spain and Portugal, Icelanders were left with the heads, so eventually they created a great dish out of the unwanted body part. It involves braising a huge Cod's head in chicken stock with dulse, done according to a traditional recipe dating back to 1800. The head made with "lots of lovage" came out so beautifully, evenly glazed, with deep fried fish tongue and potato salad as the side. It took us awhile until we decided to dig in. While it might sound gross to others, but guess what? we enjoyed and cherished it to the very last bite.
The potato salad was a gem on its own. As starter, it was beautifully decorated with seaweed chips which tasted heavenly. The potato cubes are tossed in sour cream dressing and had it's flavor enhanced by dill oil.
Though minimalist simple, the flavors of those innovative dishes were spot on… though innovative and the brilliant spin did not strip the Icelandic traditional dishes off their integrity.
Chef Gísli Matthias Auðunsso really does a great job in celebrating Icelandic everyday food, bringing them into the spotlight. I could not have asked for a better introduction to Icelandic cuisine.
Thank You, Chef Gísli and the wonderful team for your great Icelandic hospitality!
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Thank You for Reading!
Miss Happy Feet was a guest of Matur Og Drykkur. However, all photos and opinion are as always, my own!