A Night At Sæta Svínið
With warm lighting and wood panneling, the interior of Sæta Svínið feels instinctively homey. Cosy is the word that comes to mind. The restaurant is boisterous and crowded but still welcoming, without a doubt a place to rest your feet and enjoy some good fare. At around 19:00 on a Tuesday, my companion and I perched on a small wooden table upstairs lit by candles, surrounded by a mixture of large groups, families, and couples—tourists and locals alike.
The menu is remarkably extensive. There’s puffin, minke whale, and seafood soup for the tourist crowd, but also avocado fries and deep fried smoked pigs ears for the foodies. The wine list looked robust, but they only offer two options by the glass. Also noteworthy is that they do pitchers, which is something you rarely find in Reykjavík.
We started our meal off with cocktails. Now Reykjavík is not a city known for its cocktails. There’s MAR and Slipbarrinn, which I like, but you’re not going to find the sort of cosy artisanal cocktail bars you’ll find in New York or London. That said, an extensive, exciting, and innovative cocktail list was what we found at Sæta Svínið. There was your typical Manhattans and Whiskey Sours, but also one called Egg and Bacon, which I’d love to taste, and an Espresso Martini, which also interested me. We ultimately decided on the Miss Piggy—a special at the restaurant, recommended by our hostess, and also the Bartender’s Choice option.
The Miss Piggy is really fantastic. It’s made of red stag, triple sec, butterscotch, strawberry purée, cream, and cranberry bitters. The drink itself is bright pink and garnished with a whole strawberry. On top is a fruity froth that’s absolutely delicious—like the top of a strawberry milkshake. Though both me and my companion absolutely adored the cocktail, we both agreed it was more of a dessert drink rather than a dinner one. All in all, I’d highly recommend a date with Miss Piggy for an after-dinner apertif.
The Bartender’s Choice ended up being called Phoenix. It wasn’t on the menu and the ingredients were a secret. While both me and my companion love cocktails, we couldn’t necessarily figure out what was in it. I’m going to hazard a guess and say it was whiskey based though. The drink was garnished with an orange peel and had a zesty taste. It was very smooth—alcoholic but not one of those cocktails that make you gag from the alcohol-y taste. If you like cocktails but aren’t interested in something super potent, then this is definitely the drink for you.
Armed with our drinks, it was now time for the meal. We started with a little nibble of Bacon Covered Dates. Now the last time I had dates was in Israel, where they are big and juicy. These dates were smaller but what they lacked in size they made up for in flavour. Dotted with a mandarin orange sauce (that had a kick), the bacon was crispy and moist, transforming the dates into bite sized morsels that were surprisingly filling. If they had given more, I could have easily spoiled my appetite on these tasty treats. We restrained ourselves though—with difficultly—against asking for a second order.
For a main course, I picked the Ling while my companion ordered the Slow Cooked Lamb Shoulder. The menu notes that the lamb could potentially be big enough for two, but we decide to go for it anyway.
The Ling was fabulous. Plated beautiful, the salty fish was perfectly soft with a nice flakey and chewy skin on the outside. My portion was generous—I couldn’t finish it. It was satisfying, but the real star of the meal was the vegetables on the side. The asparagus was mouthwatering. I would have ordered a side portion of them if it was available. They were perfectly cooked—the kind of veggies even non-veggie fans would like. Also notable was the barley-esque grain underneath the fish. It was incredibly flavourful. I don’t exactly know what type of grain it was—quinoa, barley? Nonetheless, I was really happy with it.
The lamb was a show-stopper though. Slow-cooked beautifully, as the menu says for 12 hours, it was perfectly soft and fell off the bone easily. Important to note though was the fact that it was massive. My companion and I had prepared for this meal by eating sensibly throughout the day, but still we could barely finish one fourth of it. I rarely eat lamb—it’s not my taste—but this dish could easily convert me. Underneath lied a selection of potatoes and peas, which were also lovely, but somewhat forgettable when compared to the formidable lamb. There was also a side of waffle fries, but as neither me nor my companion were big chip-eaters, we didn’t eat many. They were double fried—if my taste buds didn’t deceive me—which I often find overwhelming. Happily, that’s probably the only critique I have of the meal.
I enjoyed our waiter throughout the meal. He provided knowledgable suggestions, as in by warning us about the size of the lamb, while also being amiable and fun. Laughter and chatter surrounded us during our whole meal, and I found the vibe of the restaurant to be inviting. I would definitely recommend dropping by for some comfort food here—classic Icelandic fare with an innovative and modern touch. As well, I cannot recommend their cocktails highly enough! I would love to sample the rest.
Unfortunately my companion and I were so stuffed by the end that we couldn’t even fathom having dessert. Maybe another time though because if you want the real truth—since reviewing, I’ve gone back twice.
October 15, 2018
August 22, 2018
June 25, 2018