In its lofty position on the eighth floor of the Radisson Blu Hotel Saga, Grillid is a Reykjavik establishment that has been known as one of the best restaurants in the city for around 50 years.
In the recently released White Guide Nordic 2017 it was listed as the second-best restaurant in Iceland. Among its other recent accolades, Sous Chef Denis Grbic was the Icelandic Chef of the Year 2016. Though it feels almost tucked away, perched high in its hotel home, Grillid’s expansive, uninterrupted views and high-quality cuisine mitigates any misgivings about its location and dated interior.
Grillid’s large, traditional dining room is circular in shape, which means incredible 360-degree views of the city, ocean and mountains while you dine. And the service (and travel tips) from the friendly and professional staff, many of whom are award winners in their field, is top-notch.
Iceland is a country of weather extremes; however, Grillid’s kitchen staff are committed to serving food created from ingredients in tune with what’s being grown, plucked, produced or herded in the country at the time. Denis explains the close working relationships they have with local farmers and suppliers, and how the high-end European cuisine showcased on the menu changes frequently with the seasons.
We peruse the menu, displayed fittingly in a polished piece of Icelandic volcanic rock, while being distracted by the changing landscape outside, spotting city sights below, a snow-capped mountain peeking above clouds in the distance and taking in the reddening sunset sky.
We opt for the tasting menu and our dishes are complemented with a line-up of fantastic wines from around Europe – including France, Spain, Italy – with stories of their specialty and how they’re produced adding to the dining experience.
Setting things off to a good start, first up is thinly sliced cured lamb sirloin and grilled red pepper foam served with an Icelandic cheese cracker. It’s followed by the roast cauliflower main dish, cooked three ways, with tarragon and other herbs and nuts; a dish so good I’m sure it could turn anyone vegetarian. Other highlights include a slow-cooked 36-hour onion sauce that complements the succulent local beef, and a delicious, crispy pan-fried cod with tasty morsels of chorizo, sweet carrot and creamed barley.
As the sun finally dips below the horizon, the desserts are brought to our table. There are small, round Icelandic doughnuts – dipped in caramel and dusted with icing sugar – and Grillid’s take on an apple crumble, apple slices topped with crunchy oats, a quenelle of vanilla ice cream and drizzled with yummy toffee sauce. For me, a chocolate mousse with raspberry and rose granita, candied hazelnuts and freshly picked petals from the garden below takes the cake – it’s pink and sweet and nutty with all the textures and deliciousness of a brilliant dessert that looks gorgeous and tastes even better.