Dinner the second night was at Carpe Diem inside the Foss Hotel. Since we arrived in Reykjavik, we’ve been eating a lot of the local seafood. We wanted to taste the local fare of lamb and the much-heard about puffin. Carpe Diem prides itself in the two.
We started with the Icelandic feast: a plate of salmon, herring and two kinds of roe served with crÃ¨me fraiche. A small side of mixed greens and the accompanying wheat bread would have made it perfect for lunch.
I was excited to finally eat the puffin. We were in Iceland in the beginning of the summer season and all the puffins were beginning to nest. We tried to stop by Dyrholaey but it was inaccessible, so we were unable to see them close-up. I thought that if I can’t see them, I might as well eat them. They always say, When in Rome…
The lundi is the national bird of Iceland, but they’re obviously not shy about eating them. My smoked puffin was neither gamey nor fishy as expected. It looked like beef with the beautiful marbling. It also tasted like fresh, high-quality beef. Unfortunately, it was served with unexciting shredded iceberg lettuce and zucchini and a dollop of white sauce which tasted like ranch dressing. I thought it would have been better if it was served carpaccio-style, drizzled with good olive oil.
We split an order of saddle of lamb. Before we ordered it, we asked our waitress if saddle was the term they use for rack of lamb. She said that it was. However, we were served the loin. To top it off, it was overdone. If it wasn’t for its gamey taste, I would have confused it with well-done pork chops. Mushrooms, carrots, celery and squared potatoes mingled with a few pieces of blueberries. They all drowned in some kind of brown sauce. The balsamic reduction sauce was burnt.
Who the hell was cooking in the kitchen? After a large family left, we were the only two in the restaurant. I would have thought that the chef would cook our lamb with care because the kitchen wasn’t so busy. I was terribly disappointed. I just assumed that Icelanders don’t eat lamb medium-rare and that was why we weren’t asked about our preference.
Carpe Diem Restaurant is on Raudararstigur 18, + 354 552 4555
Where to stay in Reykjavik for cheap: Reykjavik Hostel