I'm a big foodie and I've decided to start reviewing the restaurants in Reykjavík, starting with the oh-so-delicious Kopar restaurant by the Reykjavík harbour.
On a cold winter night in January I had a table booked at Kopar restaurant, a place I had never been to before but heard great things about. After battling a bit of a snowstorm whilst walking there I was really happy from the moment I stepped into Kopar and was greeted by the warmth and a friendly waiter, Jónmundur, that became our waiter for the rest of the evening.
- See also: The best restaurants in Reykjavík
Not only was the inside of the restaurant warm in contrast with the wintry cold, but the decoration and the rustic feel of the restaurant was warm too, with its open kitchen, wooden beams, exposed bricks, ivy plants and warm lighting. There's also a cool graffiti of a crab on one of the mural walls. In contrast there are the large windows with a view towards the harbour and the docking boats. The restaurant is not large, so guests can have an intimate and pleasant dining experience even if it's full (it was half full when I was there so it felt buzzing but not loud). They have a terrace that guests can dine on in summertime when the weather is more agreeable.
The menu at Kopar is largely based on seafood, although there is a lamb option in the mains, and both vegetarian and vegan options for starters, mains and dessert. There's also a good wine selection and some great cocktails on offer. The cocktails are priced around 2500 ISK each and I decided to start the meal with their new award winning Jim Beam cocktail (it won first price in a Jim Beam cocktail competition last year - and is the creation of our waiter Jónmundur). Definitely a good idea to start your meal like this!
Besides ordering a la carte, guests have the options of a 3 course fish adventure (8,900 ISK), 6 different appetizers + a glass of sparkling wine (5,900 ISK) or to choose the Kopar adventure that consists of 9 courses (10,900 ISK).
Me and my date decided to make the most of it and go for the Kopar adventure. Oh my, the foodgasm begins! I apologise in advance for the bad quality of my following photos, I was more excited about eating the food than photographing it, so the pictures do not do the flavour of the food justice!
The bread and butter that arrived first were promising of a great meal. I always think you can tell a little bit about how good the food will be at a restaurant if the pay attention to the details, such as the accompanying bread and butter. The bread was warm and soft, and the velvety butter was sprinkled with liquorice salt, just the right amount to make it a little sweeter but not with an overpowering liquorice flavour.
Another promise of being in good hands was when we got a little complimentary amuse bouche, consisting of crab salad with what I think was pickled cucumber (I didn't catch the description from the waiter, it vanished quite quickly somehow (delicious!) and before I knew it the first course had arrived).
First up were cod tongues, or 'gellur' in Icelandic in deep fried batter, accompanied by two dips: sherry and garlic flavoured cream cheese and a lemon dip. If you hadn't finished your bread at this point, then that cream cheese goes along with it perfectly. The cod was perfectly cooked, soft and juicy on the inside, crispy on the outside.
Next up was my favourite starter, the duck spring roll with a pear salad, sweet pickled red onion and date sauce, my mouth is watering just thinking about it. The duck was tender and juicy, perfectly combined with the sweet date sauce and the freshness of the pear.
Third and final starter was a fresh scallop ceviche with dill mayo and crispy dill crumble. It's good to know beforehand that the crumble is there, my date had his first and commented on it, so I wasn't taken by surprise when I had mine (you might otherwise think you've accidentally had some of the shell). Delicious and a little daring.
The first of the main courses (and my personal favourite) was the salted fillet of Icelandic cod, served with a warm salad of butternut squash, jerusalem artichokes and quinoa, mandarin sauce and a sprinkle of roasted hazelnuts. That mandarin sauce is to die for! And the combination of flavours is just amazing.
Second main course was baked ling, capers and scallops with potatoes and cauliflower in a creamy white wine sauce and with sautéed spinach. Very tasty, although personally I thought the sauce was a little too salty - my date completely disagreed and preferred this dish to the previous one.
Last main course was the Icelandic fillet of lamb with a crispy fat. Along with it were truffle mashed potatoes, grilled carrots, béarnaise sauce and a purée of mushroom and port. The juicy lamb was cooked just right, although might have a little too much fat for some people (you can always leave it if you don't like it, I actually love it). What dots the i in this dish is the truffle flavour in the mashed potato.
Finally a three tiered dessert tray arrived, including a Daim cheesecake, caramel cake and a skyr pudding with an almond créme brûlée.
I'm not one to get overly excited over desserts, I'm more of a savoury person than a sweet one, which is perhaps why the skyr dessert was my favourite one. There were also lots of contrasts in that one, the light skyr with a hot apple compote, freezing blueberry sorbet and crunchy pistachios.
The caramel cake was my date's favourite (and he's a real sweet tooth). I found it tasty as well, but a bit heavy. It came with Italian merengue, dulce de leche, white chocolate mousse and a lemon sorbet. Definitely one for the ones with a sweet tooth!
I love cheesecakes, and although the Daim cheesecake was good, it was just a little too sweet for me, almost tasted like dulce de leche and I was missing the crunchy bits from the Daim inside the cheese (there were still crunchy bits on the bottom of the cake). Still, a really nice dessert - especially when you can mix and match with the other two desserts!
All in all, Kopar uses beautiful combinations of flavours and textures, from the crunchy hazelnuts with the soft fish in the sweet mandarin sauce down to the details of the sweet liquorice taste in the salty butter at the start. One of my new favourite restaurants, I can't wait to go back to check out more of their cocktails and that appetizer menu!
Kopar restaurant is located at Geirsgata 3, 101 Reykjavík.