Raymond Sokolov, a highly celebrated food journalist in the US, praised Reykjavík restaurants Panorama, Vox, Saegreifinn, 3 Frakkar and, to some extent, Sjávarkjallarinn in his latest “Eating Out” column in the Wall Street Journal.
From a restaurant in Iceland. The photo is unrelated to the story. By Páll Stefánsson.
“We are of course always stuck in the kitchen and therefore didn’t notice him, but we are naturally thrilled about his reaction and it doesn’t surprise me that he liked the horse fillets,” Úlfar Eysteinsson, master chef at 3 Frakkar, told Fréttabladid.
“If I could go back tomorrow, I think I would order the horse steak again. Here was meat with personality, plated modestly with potatoes, carrots and turnips. Lean and unforgettable,” Sokolov wrote.
Eysteinsson said Sokolov had come to the restaurant as a proper critic and kept a low profile. Then, a week later he called, asking if he could send a photographer to take pictures of the food he was served.
“The horse fillets are very popular among tourists,” Eysteinsson said. “I usually joke with them that the horses were massaged back and forth, spent lots of time in the sauna and listening to music.”
Sokolov also tried puffin, reindeer and a skyr version of crème brûlée at the restaurants he visited. The only disappointment was Sjávarkjallarinn, which Sokolov “reluctantly concluded […] was a kind of pretentious trap.”
Sokolov also commented on the crisis in his column:
“The money crisis explains why Panorama and Reykjavik’s other bubble-spawned luxury restaurants are so sparsely patronized now. […] But for anyone interested in sampling some intelligently cosmopolitan treatments of exotic ingredients, the time is now. Restaurants like Panorama or the very chic Vox in the Hotel Nordica or the marvelous bistro 3 Frakkar are, in effect, on sale for those of us lucky enough to arrive with dollars.”
Eysteinsson said he has noticed more foreign tourists dining at the more expensive restaurants in Reykjavík since the crisis hit. “They also allow themselves to spend more. It was largely unheard of that they ordered brandy and Irish coffee a few months ago. Now they dine like royalty and order drinks with all courses.”