The New York Times food reviewer said it was the best lobster soup he’d ever tasted. In his life. Anywhere in the world. And it’s found in a tiny rustic cabin alongside the docks in Reykjavik. Actually, I suppose it’s not so totally surprising given that Iceland pretty much survives on fish – gastronomically and economically.
On my first trip to Iceland, I was told about this soup, called hamursupa, but was not sure I would get to try it because the friend I was visiting is allergic to seafood. It seemed a little insensitive to drag her down to the docks to watch me reach a new sensation of eating pleasure. But she insisted. There was no way she was going to stand between me and heaven. In fact, it wouldn’t be the first time she’d has to sit across one of the solid wooden communal tables and watch flurries of delight cross someone’s face as they used a plastic spoon to eat this exceptional soup from the disposable container.
Like I said, there is nothing pretentious about this place; it’s about the food, whatever has come in on that day’s fishing boats. But it’s got ambience aplenty. Saegreifinn is its name, which means Sea Baron in Icelandic, the man we know as Neptune. The owner is Kjartan Halldorsson who was a ship’s cook for 20 years so he knows how to cook fish. If you want to be really adventurous, Kjartan also serves Minke whale meat (legally caught), grilled cormorant, puffin and shark, and skata which is fermented stingray – only for the really brave. Saegreifinn is one of those places in the world that proves yet again, that you don’t need big attitude, big premises, big prices to be the best, just good, fresh ingredients and a respect for what you’re cooking.