Public House Gastropub: Reykjavik, Iceland

“I was finally able to check into my hostel. What I really needed was a nice hot shower and some down time after my long walk with Tod. I can’t believe how beautiful of a walk it was strolling near the water with the puffins and whales in the distance. We walked by some nice street art and statues. “When I get some relaxation, I’ll have to go back out there and explore, perhaps grab some dinner.”

 

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A couple hours later I was putting on my jacket, combat boots, and scarf. I didn’t realize how chilly Iceland was in April, good thing I prepared myself. I walked out the door, turned left and started walking. I wasn’t sure where I was going or what I was going to do, I just knew that I needed to put something in my belly. I walked past a coffee shop called Te and Kaffi and decided to go back to get a nice hot beverage to warm myself up. Not being able to understand the menu, I told the barista at the counter to just pick something to make me. She insisted that I order a swiss mocca, that I had to have one before I left Iceland. She handed me the hot coffee, I took a sip, looked at her, and flashed her a smile. It was one of the best coffee’s I’ve ever had.

There was a bench in front of the window, I took my coffee and sat down. It was a perfect spot to sit and people watch as I decided where I was going to eat. I noticed that a few people were walking into a restaurant across the street. I skimmed the restaurant walls and read “Public House Gastro Pub.” For some reason the named sounded familiar. I pulled out my phone and started to browse through why I thought I’ve heard that name before. It occurred to me that a friend I met in Beijing recommended it to me.

I got up, left the coffee shop, and walked straight to the restaurant’s entrance. As soon as I opened the door I was greeted by a waiter, and was sat at a table facing the bar. He handed me the menu and gave me a few minutes to figure out what my indulgence would be tonight. Before I opened my menu, I looked around the restaurant. Colorful chairs sat next to the neutral, warm tones of the bar in front of me. There were dark wooden tables and chairs complimenting the cranberry red painted walls. A big window towards the entrance let in the natural light from the outdoors.

“Miss, can I get you something to drink?” I snapped out of my trance forced upon the ambiance of the establishment. His blue eyes staring at me waiting for a response. Unsure of what to order, I told him to surprise me with a nice local Icelandic beer. Within a moment he disappeared towards the bar. As I waited for my drink, I finally decided to look into the menu. The first thing I noticed was that their menu was influenced with asian dishes, cooking techniques, and Japanese flavors. This made me nervous because I don’t prefer fusion cuisine, I’m more of a traditionalist when it comes to food, especially while traveling. The more I read the menu, the more I realized their use of local ingredients, and the huge variety of small plates, similar to a dim sum joint. I figured I’d give it a try, besides I was told it was a good place to eat.

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My waiter returned to my table holding a pint of the Einstok White. He placed it down on the table and proceeded to take my order. “I’ll have the duck and butternut squash dumplings.” He nodded and left me with my beer. I excitedly grabbed my beer and took a sip, after all I’m in ICELAND?! The beer had a nice cold and crisp start with a well rounded finish of spices in the back notes. I could taste oranges and a bit of coriander. It was the perfect first European beer.

When the food arrived, I was practically drooling. The duck, a perfect medium rare with crispy skin played with my taste buds as the fig and yuzu glaze complimented it perfectly. The acidity from the ponzu pickled enoki mushrooms really brightened up the dish, however I was a bit disappointed with the hazelnut crumb. It was more like a puree, which made the texture of the dish as a whole a bit flat.

After the duck, I anxiously threw a dumpling in my mouth and sadness overwhelmed my face. One I love dumplings and two I love butternut squash. If combined, I’d hope for a fantastic dish. I couldn’t taste the butternut because of the spices being used. It over powered the delicate flavor of the squash filling, which was also in an undercooked dumpling shell. It was suppose to come with black garlic, which I didn’t see or taste. It wasn’t a bad dish, I just think it was poorly executed.

Would I come back? Probably! I can’t let one dining experience ruin a potential fantastic revisit. I’m sure some of the items are really tasty, I just however already have a red flag when it comes to fusion cuisine. So maybe next time when I do come, I’ll see what their puffin dish is all about.

 

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