Skólabrú, Reykjavík, Iceland

On the last night in Iceland we were in Reykjavík. We strolled down the ‘main’ street and looked at various menus to see what might be a fun place to eat. I had been wanting to try puffin so was also looking for a restaurant that offered that. We finally decided on Skólabrú.

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We opted to split a first course, which offered the bird I was looking for. Villibráðar tvenna: Léttretyktur lundi með geitaosti; kryddjurtum og ferskum berjum og gæsa carpaccio með rauðlauk á salati, trufflum of sítrónu sósu, or in English, Wild-duo: Lightly smoked puffin with goat cheese, herbs and fresh berries and wild goose carpaccio with red onions, herb salad and truffle-lemon dressing. ISK 2,500.

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The smoked puffin (the one on the left) was nice – in addition to the magnificent presentation! Very tender, mild unique taste. This is what’s great about traveling, enjoying different food. The goose was also amazing. Very different – a bit chewier. Very glad I got to try this.

For the 2nd course we went with Steinbítur með mango, chili og engifersóso, grænmeti og hrísgrjónum or Seawolf with mango, chili and ginger sauce, roasted vegetables and rice. ISK 4,200.

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Had never had Seawolf which is what tempted me about this. It was a bit sweet of a fish, had some ‘body’ to it and just great taste. Another one that would be nice to find at the store at home.

The wait staff was excellent and attentive so check this place out if you are in Reykjavík.

Prior to all this, had a great time seeing some points of interest while driving down to Reykjavík that day.

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La Colina, Borgarnes, Iceland

On night 2 in Borgarnes we opted for La Colina Pizzeria. It was highly recommended (as another one of the few restaurants in the city). It’s a pizzeria and they pretty much stick to that.

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They had a large selection of pizzas and we opted for the De Campo – Sósa, ostur, parmaskinsa, klettasalat, parmesan ostur, oregano or Pizza sauce, cheese, prosciutto, rucola (arugula), parmagiano reggiano, oregano – 2,700 kr. – translation $30 for a thin crust, not huge pizza.

Two of us were splitting this, a lot of it because of the price. I requested half of it without the cheese, which took the waitress a couple seconds to understand but it was delivered. The pizza had a super thin, crisp crust, which was great. They were definitely very light on the pizza sauce (because of lack of veggies in Iceland). Good prosciutto and could have had more arugula, but by now had figured out the lack of veggies, as previously mentioned. But, was very pleased with everything. Pizza in Iceland, bring it on!

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That was before the rest of the fun for the evening – an 8:30pm-ish tee time in Iceland in broad daylight. Also, had I mentioned it was windy in Iceland? Notice the flag in the 3rd picture down — horizontal.

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From 6 pack to singles, Borgarnes, Iceland

After driving around all day in the wide Borgarnes vicinity, it was definitely time for happy hour. We didn’t really want to sit at the bar so I said let’s go check out the liquor store and grab something there and just come back to the hotel and enjoy. So we walked around the store and it’s quite interesting because you look at the prices. Right away you think that beer prices are tremendous in the liquor stores in Iceland. Something like $4-$6 for microbrew 6-packs.

Well, not so lucky. All the listed prices below a 6-pack are for the individual can or bottle. So, we’d see something like 440 kr or 390kr (which equated to about $4.50 or $4, respectively) and also a 6-pack with the paper ‘case’ torn apart or 1-2 cans missing. Very interesting. You can take a single or grab a 6 pack, whatever you want. This also makes a 6-pack come out to above $20.

Anyway, we opted to grab a  SÓLVEIG Hveitibjór NR.25 and ÚLFRÚN Session IPA NR.34 (could not find an English site for either of these). Both of these are brewed by Borg Brugghus.

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The first was 6% ABV, a wheat beer, unique citrus taste with some spice. The 2nd, the IPA, was 4.5%. It was great, not too hoppy (53 IBU) and pretty smooth.

To be very classy, we put these in water bottles because we didn’t want to sit in our room, and it was wet out and couldn’t just sit outside on our ‘patio.’ So we had our classy bottles with beer and sat in the lobby writing postcards.

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Ok Bistro, Borgarnes, Iceland

As my trip in Iceland continued, made it to Borgarnes.

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The first night there, checked out one of the few restaurants, Ok Bistro. The name comes from ‘Ok jökull in Borgarfjörður which through the centuries has been the smallest glacier in Iceland. In the last couple of decades it has retreated steadily and in 2014 Icelandic geologists removed the glacier status of Ok. The mountain Ok still stands tall at 1200 meters and it´s located to the west of way bigger Langjökull.’

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The restaurant was recommended by the hotel and has a high rating. Started dinner with an Einstök Icelandic White Ale. Very nice with a taste of coriander and orange. I was expecting a bit of a hefe-likeness/cloudimess to it but not at all.

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We ordered a bread basket (some places give bread free, some don’t). It was freshly baked bread with mixed pepper hummus 890 kr. Tasty.

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For a main course, started with the Minke Whale. Had heard about the whale and wanted to try it. Read about it, too, and the pros/cons. The minke is ok to eat. This was a small plate, which is what we wanted so as to just get a sample.

Grilled Steak of Minke Whale with blueberry and brennivín jam, bacon bits and birch syrup, smoked mushrooms in cream sauce (they kindly put the mushrooms in sauce on the side). 2890 kr

This was amazing. They were small pieces and everything else on the plate made it outstanding. Nice and tender and unique taste. Very glad I got to try it!

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We then wanted something else simple and the chef was able to made us a basic salad (yes, veggies). It was perfect. Just simple ingredients. And at this point, I didn’t care how much veggies cost.

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Great restaurant to check out and you looked right at mountains and water. Glad we went.

And some of the views in the area of Borgarnes include:

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More Lunch on the Road

Progressing on the trip in Iceland, you don’t necessarily want to eat PBJ each day. Some food was also brought from home. So one day we enjoyed some great individual packs of Bumble Bee Light Tuna, Trader Joe’s Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Trader Joe’s Marinated Olives, and some of the bread we bought for the PBJs. We also had a bit of wine left to kill that we’d bought a couple days prior. So we had paper coffee cups from a hotel brunch and probably each got half a glass of Trapiche Malbec. Living the high life!

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This was also on a day that was sunny. Only reason we had to sit in the car was because of the million mile an hour winds we had (90% of the time we were in Iceland). Enjoyed this while visiting Þingvellir National Park (or Thingvellir in English) and seeing some other beautiful sites.

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Strondin Bistro & Bar, Vik, Iceland

Was in Vik for two nights and had the choice of pretty much two restaurants. Might as well cover the territory. So the 2nd night checked out Strondin Bistro & Bar.

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A good amount to pick from on the menu but soup was something I really wanted because by Day 3 of the trip I felt like we’d have about a week of rain. Lamb is not a meat I truly have a taste for but that was the only thing I could pick from because the other soup/stew was diary based. So I went for the:

Heimalöguð íslensk kjötsúpa – Homemade Iceland traditional meat soup with lamb and root vegetables. 2,300kr.

It was quite good. The taste in the lamb was very subtle. And the rest of the ingredients were potatoes, onions, carrots that were very nice. The warmth brought it all together.

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Also needed some veggies. Iceland does not have an abundance of these things. But this Strondin place had a Miðjarðarhafssalt: salat m/sólÞurrkuðum tómötum, ólifum, fetaosti, tomötum, agurku og paprika – Mediterranean: salad with sundried tomatoes, olives, feta cheese, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and bell peppers. 1,750 kr.

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That had to be one of the best salads I’ve ever had. Ignoring the lack of veggies the prior few days, the unique combo of sun-dried and ‘regular’ tomatoes in the salad and the dressing it had; SO good!

They also had some delicious bread with some kind of herbs in it to make all this even better, that was just brought to the table.

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Finally, was enjoying all this with a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon, Maronde Pionero from Chile, 1,250 kr. Wine was pricey as usual, but at least since I live in the DC-area, it wasn’t total sticker-shock.

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What also makes a dinner amazing is the staff. A bit shout out to Antonio, Jan and Lammi. They provided great service, making this dinner even better. Thanks!! So, when you’re in Vik, check this place out.

Also, this yellow object started coming out in the sky when we walked out of the restaurant, it was tough to identify. But it provided us this scenery.

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Viking and Einstök

Moving across the country in Iceland meant new hotel, new happy hour. Wow, this hotel in Vik actually had a 3-hour Happy Hour – 4pm-7pm. We could stay out late doing tourist stuff!

The two brews on tap we sampled in Vik were Viking Lager and Einstök Pale Ale.

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Viking Lager, per the site: The most popular draught beer in Iceland for some years, it is pleasantly mild with a slightly sweet flavour. Less filling and more refreshing than many other beers, it’s ideal for those who prefer a medium-strength beer with less bitterness. Tasting notes: Light golden, little sweetness, light, limited bitterness, corn, beans. ABV 4.5%.

My notes: A bit on the light side, nonetheless good. I like my beer to have a bit more body.

Einstök Pale Ale, per the site: Brewed 60 miles south of the Arctic Circle, we balance three kinds of hops with pure Icelandic water to create an ale unlike any other. It can only be described as an Arctic Pale Ale and it’s truly one of a kind. Cascade hops give it American character, while Northern Brewer and Hallertau Tradition add just enough bitterness to make this ale refreshingly Icelandic – and to make everything else pale in comparison. Key Ingredients: Pale ale malt, crystal malt, chocolate malt, American and Bavarian hops.  ABV 5.6%

My notes: Good crisp beer, not hoppy, good body and color, perfect to drink after a day on the road.

And, since these were both enjoyed at happy hour, bargain price at 50% off bringing them to about $8/pint. Cheers!

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Berg Restaurant, Vik, Iceland

As my trip in Iceland continued, I drove further east and arrived in Vik.

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It’s a small town and there are about two restaurants. So on night one, dinner was at the restaurant in the hotel, Berg. Per the website, “in Icelandic, Berg means “mountain,” a word that not only symbolizes the powerful forces from which this rugged island-nation was formed but, the also the sentiment their beauty inspires. Creativity and inspiration are what drive our chefs, who invite you to sample our delicious Icelandic cuisine made with the freshest local ingredients.”

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While browsing through the menu, the taste of the house came out with bread, salmon on cukes and butter with some type of herb.

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Ordered a nice Sauvignon Blanc – wine wasn’t too cheap. Well over $50/bottle for not overly fancy stuff.

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After looking over the menu, meal choices ended up being:

Appetizer of:

Tiger Shrimps (yes the plural version) in a mango and chili sauce with coconut rice. kr 2,490. Good taste and amazingly coconut-y rice! A bit heavy on the sauce.

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Marinated Chicken Leg with potato dippers and salad with green pesto and garlic skyr (which was on the side) kr. 3,900  A nice salad on the side. One of us had mozzarella balls, the other skipped them.

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Dinner was very nice, and very plentiful. And just had to go back upstairs after finishing.  No long trek ‘home’.

Also, had I mentioned it rained a lot in Iceland? View from hotel room.

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Lunch on the Road

I had heard to just pack lunch every day while in Iceland. So after visiting BÓNUS, I was stocked and ready to go. Pretty much every day around noon or 1, we’d stop (and would see many other cars doing the same at random locations) to chow down. One of the awesome splurges during the trip to Iceland – oh yes, PBJ! Everything was strategically placed in the car. We brought camping utensils to do the appropriate sandwich making and those were cleaned at the hotel at night. So good!

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Some of the great stuff we saw before and after lunch while enjoying PBJ for a couple days included geysers and waterfalls, along with some nice local views.

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Boli & Gull

When in Iceland, drink what the Icelandics brew! The first night in Iceland we hit Happy Hour at HVER Restaurant at the hotel. These hours, we found, can vary a lot place to place, and often end early. This bar had it from 4pm-6pm. Jumping way forward, one place had it for 1 hour only, making that hour totally happy, from 9pm-10pm. That’s way too late. Most of the time beers were 50% off during Happy Hour, bringing the price of a pint down to around a ‘reasonable’ $8.

So, back to this one, we opted to try Gull and Boli, both on tap. The Gull was pretty light, nothing too exciting. Better than Bud, but not something I’d get every day. The ABV was 5.0%. The Boli had a bit more weight to it, more color to it, a bit more taste. It was a lager, and came in with 5.6% ABV.

Nonetheless, these were a great kickoff for vacation. They were enjoyed after walking around Hveragerði and seeing hotsprings. These are what the town is known for.