25 May 2011

Moby Dick on a Stick

Minke Whale
 Before we left, I did some research and found this restaurant.  It's exactly the type of place I like to eat: local, hyper casual, and specialized.  This could explain why my last Pittsburgh meal was a Saturday night Primanti's ham, egg and cheese - it fills all of the criteria: local, hyper casual and they do one thing exceptionally well.

So when I found out about Saegreifinn, it seemed like the right sort of place.  It's in among a few rows of buildings that look kind of like warehouses right along the Old Harbor -- when you walk in, it's quite small with 3 long, narrow tables and barrels with cushions to sit on.  On the left, there's a refrigerated case with skewers of fresh seafood: cod, halibut, salmon, minke whale...  That, and soup are the only things on the menu - and so you point to the skewer you want, and that's what you get.

The other specialty of Saegreifinn is lobster soup.  Apparently people come from all over just for this lobster soup, and it was great.  Nice pieces of lobster in a cream-base buttery soup with just a bit of onion and red peppers.  Like lobster, in soup.  Simple, and definitely a heart attack in a nice big mug. 

We ordered and paid, and then sat down, and shortly thereafter they brought out the soup with fresh warm bread and butter.  Then a bit after that, our two seafood skewers. 

The minke whale was cooked rare, and I confirm it really is similar to beef - or maybe another lean lean lean meat, like venison or other game.  It had a very faint fish taste, but mostly it was like eating really good meat cooked perfectly.  We always joke in our family about overcooking meat, and so when I'm not home I like my meat to be cooked in such a way to, as Tom Colicchio would say, "honor the product." It was served with a small cup of mustard, which I tried, but didn't enjoy as much as I enjoyed the whale on its own.  I would've liked to try the cod skewer, because I love cod and it's like the national fish here, but the salmon was also great and cooked nicely. 

Salmon above, Minke Whale below

The skewers were served on styrofoam plates with plastic utensils, so by the end of the meal my plate looked like a massacre happened with all of the bloody knife cuts.  Hyper casual - I mean, we were sitting on barrels. 

The decor was nautical casual (fishing nets draped everywhere - you've been to the same place at every East Coast Atlantic Ocean beach town), but the coolest thing was a mounted eel kind of sticking out dynamically from the wall, next to a seal also mounted.  Eels are really pretty amazing and interesting creatures, really intense and full of energy and power, so much so that they can continue to move when they're freshly dead.

Between the generous serving of lobster soup and this rather huge skewer of whale meat (and a chunk of salmon), I was about ready to explode when we left.  Totally worth it, and it made it nice to walk off the meal around downtown Reykjavik afterwards.

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