Iceland's culinary stars align
July 4th was a celebratory day for the Icelandic culinary community. The esteemed Michelin Guide hosted its 2022 awards ceremony in Stavanger, Norway, and Iceland's burgeoning culinary scene garnished some well-deserved attention.
Chefs Rúnar Pierre Heriveaux and Thráinn Freyr Vigfússon of Óx Restaurant were on hand in Norway to receive their well-deserved star. Óx is a micro-restaurant within Sümac Restaurant on Laugavegur Street in downtown Reykjavík. Óx prepares food for one sitting per evening. The 11 guests better arrive on time because they will all be eating together at the bar seating right next to the chefs cooking away! The restaurant offers a set 16-course menu for a flat price that includes paired drinks to perfectly match the day's menu. For any foodie, a meal at Óx will be a memorable experience if you can get a seat at the table.
Icelandic national broadcaster RÚV spoke with Rúnar Pierre at the ceremony. He said a Michelin star is the best possible advertisement for Iceland and all the country's restaurants. However, Rúnar adds, it will not change much for the dedicated staff at Óx, who will keep on cooking now with even more confidence. Rúnar, who was also recognized as Icelandic Chef of the Year 2022, says this is the best year of his life.
Óx was only the second establishment in Iceland to receive Michelin a star. The well-known Dill Restaurant run by Chef Gunnar Karl Gíslason received its first star in 2017—a star which it subsequently lost and then regained in 2020. Dill bolstered its culinary status this year with a Michelin Green Star. Green Stars are awarded to those in the industry who are ethical and environmental leaders and work with sustainable producers to eliminate waste and remove non-recyclables from the supply chain.
As Chef Rúnar noted, the Michelin stars in Iceland are a wonderful acknowledgment of the hard-working kitchens around the country. While it may be a while before you can get a reservation at Dill or Óx, the Michelin Guide recommends three other Icelandic restaurants: Sümac, Matur og Drykkur, and Moss. Sümac is not hard to find—Óx is right inside. The cuisine is inspired by tastes of the Middle East and North Africa and is characterized by fire, exotic spices and variety. Matur og Drykkur is in downtown Reykjavík close to the harbor and is a family restaurant specializing in classical Icelandic cuisine with a modern twist. Moss Restaurant overlooks the ethereal Blue Lagoon and serves a menu of local and seasonal ingredients prepared with an affection for Iceland and a profound awareness of when and where ingredients are the freshest and most desirable.
When traveling around Iceland, be sure to take in as much scenery and cuisine as you can. Both are sure to please!