As someone who doesn't eat fish I was quite nervous about my trip to Iceland yet excited about the prospect of trying some different foods. I had thought it would be quite difficult to find some of the more notorious foodstuffs such as fermented shark and whale meat and even then I thought they would just be served as a curiosity to silly tourists like myself.
I was very pleasantly surprised to come across Islenski Barrin in the square which served these Icelandic foods in small jars - perfect for those of us taking a risk with our dinner - almost like tapas so we could share them between us. The service was absolutely second to none, friendly, helpful and knowledgeable with a genuine passion for the food and interest in whether we liked it. And boy did we like it... Well except for the shark.
We ordered a few things to split; puffin (meaty, gamey, tasty), lamb (Icelandic lamb is some of the best I've ever had), whale (AMAZING! Like a firm but tender beef and not at all fishy and no fat to be seen), languoistine in garlic butter (yummy) and on the waitress's recommendation, foal which came as a fillet and also a confit salted foal. It was quite honestly one of the most delicious things I've ever eaten. Don't be put off by the fact that it is foal, just think if you eat lamb it is a baby sheep so there is no difference and the Icelandic people love their horses and they will be organic and free-range unlike horrible battery chickens back home.
The fermented shark is every bit as rank as is rumoured. We ordered our's the traditional way - served with Brennivin/Black Death (Icelandic liquor of fermented potato flavoured with caraway) which is the only way to get rid of the foul taste. I can only describe it as eating the flesh of an obese man who has been decaying for months and someone pee'd on him. Not that I'd know of course!
I would implore anyone to visit this restaurant for its fabulous reasonably-priced exotic food and wonderful staff. Just stay away from the shark, it's got that reputation for a reason!
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