Dinner in Reykjavik, Iceland

by constantstateofmotion

So call me a hypocrite. This blog is supposed to be about how to travel for long periods of time by disdaining the things you cannot have on account of a strict budget. Don’t get me wrong, I love it when I can finagle a way to eat for free, or transport for free, or trade things I have for things I need: it’s a way of life, and I don’t mind at all that I live day to day unsure about where to eat or sleep.

The other side of the coin, however, is the Anthony gourmand, the guy who loves Moët and Benedict on Sunday’s with a hangover, the guy who can have a Scotch conversation, or who feels absolutely comfortable discussing the personal and corporate payoff of a new VLJ.

At any rate. I decided to have one splurge while here in Reykjavik, so I sought out the best restaurant in the city, and walked in at 7:30P without a reservation.

Incredible Nordic motif paired with impeccable service, and some of best food I have ever had. Why on earth would you pair chicken with peanuts and cayenne? It was delicious! How about rare seared Minke Whale with a puddle of soy-ginger-scallion sauce? Unbelievable!

I inquired briefly about the degustation menu with the request that I at least get to try the whale. My server was quick to the punch to assure me that whale is part of the tasting, and it was 8 courses total. Sign me up.

I’ll spare you the course-by-course play-by-play for your sanity (and mine), but I can confidently say, I walked out of the restaurant USD$66 poorer, but fully satisfied that I had made an excellent decision to spend a bit of money on a great meat out in Reykjavik.

In line with the goal of this blog, I will mention briefly a couple of ways I saved money on this endeavor. First, in my ten years of waiting tables at a high-end French Bistro, I met more service industry professionals than I can count, and I almost always sent a little something to the table as an added bonus to the meal just for being in the business. In Iceland, I (ignorantly) figured that service industry professionals were (decidedly) removed from the trends in culinary and hospitality. I was wrong. As soon as I shared a bit of what I do with my server, he had stories to tell and advice to give, which is awesome, because I learned promptly that Iceland is a burgeoning market for food, wine, and hospitality. They have a sommelier association, as well as competitions, tastings and events.

This piqued my interest, and after more questions and conversation, I was sipping on a complimentary glass of Graham’s 30year, which I was perfectly happy paying for, and didn’t realize was on the house until settling my bill and being surprised with the “sommelier discount…”

The years of paying it forward had payed off. I was sure to leave my email address with the server, because if he is ever near the United States or various places in Europe where I know people in the industry, I’ll be sure to see that he is taken care of similarly.

So in the end, even on my swank meal in Reykjavik, a city known for the high costs of everything – especially food – I was able to land a little discount through genuine conversation with someone who shared interest in good food and great wine.