A Fresh Look at Food
The Chef of the Year has opened his own restaurant—Sjávargrillið
The Icelandic restaurant scene is quite the competitive business, so it may come as a surprise to some to hear about a chef in his 20’s opening a new restaurant in downtown Reykjavik. Sjávargrillið, on Skólavörðustígur, is the brainchild of Gústav Axel Gunnlaugsson, who received the top honour of being named the Icelandic Chef of the Year in 2010, the youngest ever to do so, at the age of 23.
Despite his young age, Gústav, has cooked for many of the most esteemed seafood restaurants in Iceland and in London. In fact, he has recently competed for the honour of being the Nordic Chef of the Year in 2011.
Gústav has now decided to use his experience, education and his undisputed talent in his own brand new restaurant, named Sjávargrillið, or the Sea Grill.
As you might expect, Gústav is most comfortable working with fresh products from the sea, as he was born and raised in the small seaside town of Húsavík in the north of Iceland. “The brilliance of working with seafood here in Iceland is that we really have the best and freshest materials available. We literally get the fish directly from the fishermen themselves,” he says.
When deciding on the new menu and theme for Sjávargrillið, Gústav scoured the country for inspiration, looking for the taste and essence of Iceland. As a result you’ll see the cosy interiors made from driftwood collected from Icelandic shores and some innovative use of scrap iron from abandoned fish processing plants. For the menu, Gústav utilises as many of the Icelandic seasonal products as are available, including various wild and tasty plants which can survive the harsh arctic climate.
As the name implies, it is the grill that is Gústav’s favourite method of cooking and you will find that the Grill Feast Menus, with fish, meat or lobster, are already becoming the most popular dishes. The feasts are served on grills which Gústav had specially made for the restaurant and offer a three-meal overview of Gústav’s talents.
During lunch hour, Sjávargrillið offers the ‘Fish of the Day’ course, which is selected each day from the finest fish the day’s catch can offer.
Sjávargrillið is located on the lively Skólavörðustígur, running down from the cathedral and on sunny days, it is the optimal location to enjoy a light seafood dish or coffee outside, while gazing at the bustling street life of Reykjavik.