I’ll open this post by saying this: I am the furthest thing from a food critic and quite unfamiliar with fine dining. But this meal was so memorable that I wanted to dedicate a post to it, as well as show off some of the pictures from the dinner. This was my first fine dining experience abroad and also maybe my third or so time having a tasting menu, so it was a very novel experience for me.
Dill is perhaps Iceland’s best-known restaurant, and it’s the only one in the country with a Michelin star. I don’t really go out of my way to seek out starred restaurants; what really drew my interest was Dill’s emphasis on using Icelandic ingredients. So when my partner and I started planning our trip, Dill was labeled as a “must” on our Google Docs list, marked with asterisks and smiley faces and all that jazz.
But alas, booking such a restaurant is difficult. Because I was still unsure about whether we could even go to Iceland until about two months before our departure, I didn’t look at reservations until late August for an October reservation slot. Unsurprisingly, all the reservations were taken for the dates we wanted to dine, so I put us on the waiting list for just one of the days and looked up other restaurants that seemed to have delicious local fare. However, the waitlist ended up paying off because around 3pm on the day I’d put us on the waitlist for, we got a call from the restaurant asking if we wanted to take a newly available 6pm slot for dinner! We excitedly said yes, and a few hours later we got dressed up and walked to the restaurant.
Dill’s entrance is slightly hidden, with only a small sign hanging from the door that is otherwise covered with a thick curtain. The host came down to greet the first seating of diners prompted at 6pm, and we were taken upstairs and seated. The restaurant is located on the second floor and has a pretty decent view of the cute cobblestone street, and we came in time to catch a beautiful sunset. The menu is presented tied up with a bit of twine, and at the top there is a number which I’m guessing indicates which variation of the menu the current one is.
Dill only offers a tasting menu and beverages, but they do make certain accommodations for some dietary restrictions. The menu was 13,900 ISK (~$105) and the drink pairing was 11,900 ISK (~$90) at the time of my visit. I believe the cost can sometimes vary based on the ingredients, time of year, or just plain inflation because at the time of writing this post in April 2022, their tasting menu is 15.900 ISK (~$120) according to their website. It’s not a small price tag, but given the food prices in Iceland in general and the fact that it’s fine dining, I think it’s pretty reasonable. We opted to have the wine and beverage pairing as well, but I thought it was pretty cool that they have a non-alcoholic drink pairing that focuses on kombucha!
The meal started off with a round of snacks, followed by some bread with spruce butter. The little snacks are a great opener—I enjoyed everything, but there was something really special about the sweet and savory onion cake topped with pickled carrots. The bread at Dill is also very good, crisp on the outside and aromatic.
The snacks and bread were followed by a vegetable course that included one leafy greens dish, one potato dish, and one grain dish. I liked that I got to try tindur cheese on the greens, however my favorite dish from this course was the potato dish. The main ingredients, potato and mustard, get to shine and the potato shows up twice in this dish: once as the mousse on top and again as the roasted bites underneath. It was creamy and rich but also balanced by the slight tang from the mustard!
Following the vegetable course were two dishes featuring arctic char, one with raw char and one with smoked char. The raw char had Nordic wasabi as one of the prominent ingredients, and the cool thing about this wasabi is that while the vegetable is native to Japan, it’s grown in Iceland by a startup. In my opinion, incorporating Nordic wasabi into the menu shows just how hyper-local Dill’s ingredients are. The smoked char was also smokey and melt-in-your-mouth delicious.
Dill’s meat course often features different proteins based on what is seasonally best and if you read reviews of people’s experiences at the restaurant, you’ll see that they serve lamb and beef much of the time. To my surprise, the protein for the meat course that night was goose!
Now, I’d never eaten goose before and my mind went straight to that scene in The Office where Dwight brings in a dead goose to cook for the office Christmas party. I was excited to try it given that I enjoy duck, and I was not disappointed. The first part of the meat course was braised goose leg wrapped in a bite-sized pastry and dotted with mushroom mousse. The pastry was crisp and the meat was very rich, which went well with the earthy mushroom component. This dish (or bite, I should say) was my favorite part of the meal because it was not only delicious and pretty to look at, but also because it was different from anything I’ve had before.
The second dish featuring goose was also creative and well-balanced. The rich goose breast was paired with acidic components like berries and briney cabbage, but the most fun part was how they turned rye bread—an Icelandic staple—into a nutty, smooth sauce. Eating this dish, you might not even think you’re having poultry because the meat is rich and dense.
Between the meat course and dessert, there’s pre-dessert! There were two pre-dessert items, and the first had cucumber, tomato, and the restaurant’s namesake, dill. Once again, I’m not knowledgeable about fine dining, I think this dish was supposed to act as a palate cleanser. In that same vein, the second pre-dessert with chocolate, rhubarb, and liquorice meringue, was more of a transition into sweetness and a preparation for dessert.
Before I talk about the very tiny (and very cute) desserts, I have a confession. I lied. Just a few paragraphs before this. Kind of. I know I said that the first goose dish was my favorite of the evening, but I have to be honest with myself and tell you that with dessert, they offer you a choice of finishing beverages including sweet vermouth that I loved. I’m not one to usually keep drinking after the main course is over, but I couldn’t pass up the vermouth and my god, it was delicious.
Anyway, back to the food. To close out, they offered us two types of candies and a little roll cake. I liked that the desserts weren’t overly sugary and that the candies both had an acidic component that helped cut through the sweetness. This wasn’t the classic cake/pie/ice cream type dessert commonly served at the end of a meal, but I appreciated the simple ending for a wonderful and complex meal.
I genuinely only have great things to say about Dill and my dinner! I will say that this tasting didn’t leave me quite as full as some others I’ve had, but I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing since I find it harder to enjoy later courses in a meal if I’m already full. (And if you’re hungry, you can always grab a famous hot dog on the way back.) If you’re thinking of eating at Dill, I don’t think this one factor should deter you from making your reservation.
The things I loved most were the hospitality and the effort to use local ingredients or ingredients the restaurant has special connections to. I think this is best shown in the wine pairing experience I had. I haven’t talked much about the wine in this post because I know very little about wine, however with each of the beverages served, I could tell the sommelier was invested in the selection—one of the wines was made by a former Dill employee specifically for the restaurant. After my meal, I actually followed up with the restaurant over email to see if I could get information on two of the wines we had that night, and I was met with a quick response from the sommelier which was a lovely touch.
If you’re planning on a trip to Reykjavík and thinking of going to Dill, definitely do it! The city has many great fine dining options, but this one felt very intimate and unique. This is a restaurant that leaves a lasting impression and one I will definitely return to on another trip.