International Restaurant Review: Kolabrautin, Reykjavik
Currency in Iceland may have devalued, but the capital Reykjavik has upped the ante on its dining scene with the opening last summer of Kolabrautin – a restaurant Gourmet would describe as Sydney Opera House meets Burj Khalifa’s Atmosphere.
Kolabrautin, with its magnificent glass façade, designed by Icelandic-Danish architect Olafur Eliasson, sits suspended off the fourth floor of Harpa, the capital’s striking concert hall with breathtaking views of Reykjavik harbour and the Atlantic. Plan to visit over the summer to take advantage of the white nights and dinner in daylight. When night does indeed set in, Harpa glistens like a ship’s bright lights far at sea.
Head chef Prainn Freyr Vigfusson has won many an award, most recently scoring seventh place in the French Bocuse d’Or, one of the world’s most prestigious cooking competitions. Prainn along with his Nordic counterparts is a lover of the sous-vide cooking technique, a vacuum-sealed food cooking process championed by the likes of Ferran Adria – and one many modern chefs are embracing. The recipe we share here calls for this technique, so in absence of your own sous-vide chamber, we’ve shown you how to replicate this dish at home quite easily.
Inspired by the modern Nordic wave in cuisine, Prainn’s daily changing dinner menu showcases traditional Icelandic ingredients sourced locally or from the wider Scandinavian region – in fact the signature starter dish here is originally cooked with Arctic char, a cold, freshwater fish that is a cross between salmon and trout. You will also spot cat fish on the menu – it may be ugly, but its meat is fat, firm and delicious. In the autumn, expect plenty of game, wild reindeer included, served as a chunky yet tender steak, or marinated as carpaccio.
Iceland is renowned for its exceptional free-range lamb completely free of hormones and antibiotics. The sheep are slaughtered at age three to four months, giving the meat its natural and quite gamey flavour. In fact the country holds the world record in lamb consumption with each local eating on average 24kg every year. With this in mind, your main course simply has to be the wood-roasted lamb shoulder with celery root, Jerusalem artichokes, grapes and almonds.
For sweet tooths, the deconstructed dessert of cream of mascarpone, crispy cocoa, cinnamon and coffee cake with coffee ice cream, showcases Kolabrautin’s cutting-edge cuisine – it’s one helluva finale! We have discovered a restaurant that most definitely deserves an encore.