Greinasafni: Icelandic Times einnig undir: Veitingar
Vibrant originality with Nordic ingredients

Not far south of the pond in downtown Reykjavik, an extraordinary building, the Nordic House, designed by the famous Finnish architect Alvar Aalto, is now home to one of the premier restaurants in Iceland, Dill. For its innovative creations that please the eye and tantalize the palette, award-winning Dill has been highly praised as a world-class restaurant.

The owners of Dill, Gunnar Karl and Ólafur are pioneers in the New Nordic Kitchen, a culinary movement that puts emphasis on presenting classic Nordic ingredients in a new and exciting way. In 2008 the pair fulfilled their dreams by opening the restaurant in the best possible location for a Nordic restaurant. Even the most minute detail in the Nordic House was designed by Alvar Aalto himself, right down to the tiles on the floor. Furthermore, the view from Dill is breathtaking, extending over a quiet bird sanctuary towards the old town and up to Hallgrímskirkja on the hilltop.

The chefs at Dill have elevated simple local ingredients to a work of art and is an experience in itself. Guests should plan on an entire evening to sample local dishes at their seasonal best. Nearly all the ingredients come from Iceland, and if not, then from the other Nordic countries. According to Ólafur, it is virtually only the oil which has to be imported from outside of Scandinavia.

Limiting their ecological footprint as much as possible is important to Dill, as well as using mostly organic products. The menu is seasonal: each week the owners arrange a new seven-course tasting menu complete with a wine list to match each course. In autumn, Icelandic game such as reindeer, goose and duck feature prominently on the menu. Dill even has its own hunters to ensure absolute freshness and the highest possible quality.

Other examples of tempting treats include: salted salmon and capelin roe in mayonnaise, smoked with hay, skyr and söl, or the lamb fillet with onions, pickled onions, creamed kale and sorrel sauce. Even these brief, mouth-watering examples demonstrate the emphasis on traditional cooking methods, such as smoking, used in new and exciting ways. It also displays the experimental side of Dill, ‘burning’ the ingredients to create new flavours.

Ólafur mentions that the winter season certainly challenges Dill as the chefs concentrate on using only Icelandic ingredients. But during the short growing season, the staff at Dill gather berries, herbs and seaweed, afterwards conserving them for the wintertime. “We also pick mushrooms that we dry and then we use plenty of root vegetables during the winter,” says Ólafur.

Lunch guests have a chance to sample the Dill in a more rustic style; traditional Icelandic dishes, such as ‘plokkfiskur’ are infused with a New Nordic energy, served in clay pots at the tables. For the evening, the staff takes out the best silverware and put on their best clothes to create a very special dining experience. Even so, the atmosphere retains the intimate yet informal vibe for which Dill is famous, as the restaurant is rather small, seating only 30 guests.

The purpose of the New Nordic Kitchen is, among other things, to promote the understanding of the many culinary possibilities of the Nordic ingredients, as their quality and variety are unknown to most. Thus, the excellent service includes a thorough explanation about each dish, its origins and its preparation. Dining at Dill, guests fully experience local dishes in a new context. The experimental and original thinking Dill Restaurant has, without doubt, gained a unique position, garnering for itself a famed reputation, both at home and abroad.

Dill restaurant • Norræna húsinu • Sturlugötu 5 • 101 Reykjavík • Tel. 552 1522

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