Monday, July 22, 2019

Grill Markadurrin - Reykjavik, Iceland

I made group reservations ahead of our trip for Grill Markadurrin (or Grill Market) in Reykjavik. It was listed as one of the best restaurants in Reykjavik by, which noted that the restaurant was housed in what had been an art nouveau New Cinema (Nyja Bio) from 1920 to 1998 before it was destroyed by fire. 
The front door (open).
The sign on a post on the courtyard leading into the restaurant. 
Sign on a post.
The kitchen, or at least one of them. 
We were seated downstairs, down a large winding staircase.
Culturetrip notes that Chefs Hrefna Rosa Saetran and Gudlaugur Frimannsson, two of Iceland's best, have a variety of meat, fish and game dishes, including plates for the adventurous, like minke whale, puffin and reindeer. Guide to Iceland listed it as no. 9 on its best restaurants in Reykjavik, Time Out listed it as no. 1 of its 9 best restaurants in Reykjavik, Tripadvisor currently rates it is #30 out of 343 restaurants in Reykjavik, and Savored Journeys listed it as no. 1 of the 10 restaurants they recommended in Reyjkavik. 

I was particularly excited to try their grilled whale steak, an appetizer. It was minke whale, and as described by our waiter, only lightly grilled for a few seconds on each side, then served with wasabi and soy vinagrette. It had an amazing look to it, dark brown with large patches of orange on top (perhaps fat?). It was already cut into thick slices and as I pulled the slices apart it revealed a very rare, very red inside. Amazing. It was very beef-like, served like sushi, with generous portions. With minke whale back-to-back (I'd had it the day before at Tapas Barrin), I liked the fully cooked version better at Tapas Barrin (it brought more of the flavor out), but the sushi version was still marvelous. I ate part of it with the wasabi and soy and part without. Particularly when it first came out and was a little warm, I liked it better plain. 

One slice of the whale next to the wasabi and soy.
For my entree I ordered horse tenderloin, "the most tender part of the horse," cooked medium rare (I was informed by the waiter that there was no choice in that matter). It was expensive, but still quite a bit less than the top-end beef steaks they were offering. I've eaten horse several times, in Japan, China and Kazakhstan and the day before in Reykjavik, and this was a very different preparation from what I'd seen before. The loin was cooked in one big chunk and I cut it open to reveal a very pinkish/red center, probably more rare than medium rare. It was good, but I would probably rate it as my least favorite of all the horse dishes I've tried. It was not as tender or flavorful as other horse meat I've had and I was actually a little disappointed. It was very good, but my expectations were very high, because all the horse I've had before that was fantastic. 

Horse with fries and grilled vegetables.
The tenderloin cut in two.
That was my meal, but I got bits and pieces and views of other's dishes. Bill and Esmee share with me a piece of grilled monkfish with bell pepper, mandarin and garlic as well as wild eider duck from a salad. 
Monkfish - I've only tasted it a few times. It was good, but a little overdone for my taste. Very mild.
The duck was also very mild and extremely lean. I believe it was smoked. 
Our bread and butter were the most unusual combinations I've ever seen. 
The bread came out on a large rock.
The butter came out on a piece of slate. One dollop of the butter had salt scattered over it and was way too salty. One had no salt and was too mild. And I don't recall what the other was covered with (perhaps pepper, or pepper and salt). Surprisingly, I did not really connect with any of them, although the bread was very good. 
Judy had a grilled fillet of lamb which I tasted and it was okay. 
Mark and Lori had a a wonderful looking dish of beef tataki, which is either raw or barely cooked beef, cut up into small pieces, then covered with sunchokes, truffle dressing, coriander and chili and beautiful little edible flowers. I didn't taste it but the presentation was marvelous. 
Beef tataki
They also got a dessert platter with fruit, ice cream and sorbet. The photo I have doesn't do it justice, it was beautiful. It included pineapple, dragon fruit, some sort of melon and several kinds of ice cream and sorbet. 
Judy got a dessert of toffee filled with chocolate cake and accompanied by salted caramel ice cream. The ice cream had a chocolate knife piercing it with Grill Markadurrin emblazoned on it. Judy gave me a small taste of the cake and it was marvelous. 
Finally, Bill and Esmee got grilled corn with butter and lava salt. I didn't have any but the presentation was wonderful. 
Having experienced the best meal of my life at Tapas Barinn the night before, where every dish was good and a number were exceptional, my experience here was probably skewed. My minke whale was exceptional and the fruit dessert and beef tataki looked exceptional, although I don't know how they tasted. Otherwise, I was underwhelmed, probably because my expectations were so high. I would love to go back and try some more dishes and give it another try. 

1 comment:

  1. The part i really care about (the dessert) was divine.