Exploring Iceland can be both exhilarating but also exhausting. Long days spent driving the long and meandering ring road, late nights chasing the northern lights and long walks climbing glaciers, scaling waterfalls and patiently waiting for Geysirs to exploded mean a trip to Iceland can leave you in need of an actual holiday.
So it’s important to find a little time to sleep in a decent bad, chill in a blue lagoon, and eat well. Our standout restaurant during our recent trip to Iceland was at the critically acclaimed Hotel Ranga, at the premier restaurant in Southern Iceland and the best place to view the northern lights from in comfort and style.
We hope you enjoy our review.
The Hotel is built in a wood panelled chalet style which at first can underwhelm you. Soon though you realise that the devil is in the detail and with its’ leather bound menus, resplendently stocked bar and its’ smart, attentive and plentiful army of waiters that this is a restaurant preparing to meet people’s high expectations.
The hotel and restaurant manager Ingi Þór Jakobsson, made the rounds of the table introducing himself and telling us that the hotel staff would notify us if the Northern Lights would grace us with their presence and that we should absolutely leave the restaurant and head to the North Car park to watch them.
The Menu was plentiful and offered a wide range creative variations of traditional Icelandic dishes. The menu included traditional meats such as lamb, beef and pork alongside more local delicacies such as char, skate, plaice, reindeer, wild goose and puffin. Whilst outnumbered, the restaurant did offer some vegetarian options as well.
Starters and Appetizers: Reindeer Carpaccio
After a putting out the taste explosion of an amuse bouche with a very nice chardonnay, our starters arrived. I have a rule that you never go cheap on 3 things: toilet paper, insurance and carpaccio. Thankfully, the carpaccio was reassuringly expensive as it was soft, tender and a lean quality cut of meat. The reindeer was very flavoursome and tasted slightly sweet and was a strong start to the meal.
We also had the smoked puffin with spiced cream cheese, beetroot gel and apples which was surprisingly tangy and tender.
The Main Course: Wild goose with puréed mash and puréed sweet potato mash with mushrooms and sweet onion.
The main course was definitely the main event. A well-proportioned offering boasting a wide range of flavours that all complemented each other. The style of cooking was homely but with a delicate and intricate attention to detail.
Whilst all the flavours worked together as a team, this was a team made up of two stars and a group of backup players.
The wild goose was beautifully cooked with a slightly sweet and fruity taste it. The sweet potato mash was so sweet and light it could have come back for an encore during dessert and got a standing ovation. If this dish was a boy band then betting shops would be giving short odds on which of the wild goose or the sweet potato mash would leave the band and go solo first and leave the mushrooms, sweet onion and the ordinary mash reminiscing about the times they were once part of something great.
An honourable mention must be made for the very rich slow cooked and pan-fried veal in parma ham with mushroom duxell, onion and stock glaze.
Dessert: Amarone red wine poached pear with white chocolate custard and white chocolate crumble
Whilst exciting to the eye on the menu and when served, the dessert didn’t quite live up to the crescendo of the previous courses. Whilst each part individually tasted great, especially the pear soaked in Moreno wine for 3 days, the 3 parts struggled to work together. In particular, the white chocolate crumble was quite hard and sharp and didn’t mesh well with the soft pear or incredibly light chocolate mousse.
We did however discover Skyr, a very thick Icelandic yoghurt (which we were pleased to find at our local supermarket back in England!) and enjoyed the Skyr panna cotta with brown cheese cream and rhubarb – which doesn’t sound as tasty as it really was.
The Ranga Restaurant is a high end restaurant that delivers great, homely, traditional Icelandic fare with creative twists. The wild goose and sweet potato mash are culinary rockstars and are highly recommended. Whilst not cheap, the Ranga Restaurant is a rare offering of high class cuisine outside of Reykjavik where it is not only possible to see the Northern lights, it is actively encouraged to do so.
Last modified: 14th March 2016