Give me one of every animal you have: Grillmarkadurinn Reykjavik


grillmarkadurinn exterior

grillmarkadurinn interior

fish and chips


It’s no secret that before I go somewhere that involves a flight, I do exhaustive research. Not because I’m a monster opposed to any and all spontaneity, but because I want to maximize my time. I may also be a monster opposed to any and all spontaneity, but I’ll leave that determination for a therapist. My obsessive planning reduces the chances that I’ll show up on a museum’s doorstep on the one day of the week they’re closed, that I’ll eat dinner at a crummy restaurant when there’s one I would have enjoyed more just down the street. First, if any friends have been to that area, I’ll pump them for personal recommendations. On this trip, my friend Shannon was an invaluable resource–she’s the one who warned me it gets much colder at night and that I needed to invest in some waterproof fleece-lined pants. It’s not her fault that I didn’t wear them…once. I did, however, keep them strapped to my ass the rest of the time, grateful for her suggestion. I also scour travel guides, blogs, and anywhere else that I think their tastes may align with my own–because that’s important, too. I don’t want to get recommendations from the same people in my local facebook community who would wholeheartedly recommend papa murphy’s as the best pizza place in the entire city: just because any pizza is generally pretty good (because it’s pizza), if I want something remarkable, I want a recommendation from someone who has also eaten a lot of pizza and knows what’s remarkable. I don’t want a recommendation from an unbearable douchebag. One place that has always knocked it out of the park for me recommendation-wise are the makeupalley boards, which may seem weird at first, but once you consider that it’s mostly women, generally in my age range, not afraid to try things and share their opinions and it starts to make more sense that I’d use it as a resource. One of the places that came highly recommended was Grillmarkadurinn.

We happened to be in the area around lunchtime, and stopped in. While I couldn’t have been more delighted with my fish and chips and my twenty-three dollar (USD!) fancy-pants drink, a Þórsmörk, the thing I really wanted to try on their menu, they don’t serve at lunch: a horse fillet. Hear me out: in addition to being beautiful and fun to ride and what have you, I have heard that they are also delicious. When I was a horse-crazy kid, I received a lot of books about horses for birthdays and other holidays, and checked out many more from the library in my quest to absorb all things horse. I vividly remember that one of them spoke about a European (French?) ruler (king? general? fancypants aristocrat? This was over twenty years ago, cut me some slack) who loved the taste of horseflesh so much that he would literally bathe in horse broth, eating floating chunks of meat as it pleased him. This is something that made quite an impression on young Mellzah. Not enough to be able to find any evidence of it actually being a thing, no matter how many internet searches I did for the story and for the book in question, probably borking up my amazon recommendations forever and ending up on some kind of list of potential internet weirdos. Be that as it may, whether the story is true or not (probably not), I was bound and determined to try horse if given the opportunity, so I made reservations for dinner at lunch.

When I came back that evening, some of the staff recognized me and gave me a queer look. “Weren’t you just here for lunch?” Yes, yes I was. Don’t judge me, love me.

The restaurant was much more crowded at dinner, so I didn’t feel comfortable whipping out a camera or a phone to take photos of the meal. I’m not one of those bloggers who feels no shame and stands right up on their chair to get that perfect snap, wafting my butt in a neighboring table’s face space so I can make the internet jealous of my meal while it slowly gets cold and less palatable as I arrange and rearrange the table. That will never be me. So help me god, if you’re out with me and I do that, do the right thing and pull the chair out from under me while coldly asking if I had mistaken the establishment for a jungle gym. Be the hero the world deserves.

Ahem. So given that I’d eaten lunch not terribly long before, I elected to split the horse filet with Jason, so I’d have a bit of room left in case I felt the need to try any more weird licorice candy on the way back to the hotel (that is a need that I generally always have in the presence of licorice) and so I’d also have room for puffin and langoustine sliders, another special they don’t serve at lunch. In my post-Iceland research (looking futilely for horse soup bath verification), I learned that most people consider horse to be a leaner, drier meat. I don’t know if Grillmarkadurinn lards their horse fillets (filly-ets), but my meal was juicy, flavorful, and rivaled some of the better steaks I’ve eaten–between this horse steak and the imported A5 kobe I tried (the gold beef standard), I’d actually pick the horse, as A5 is almost unpleasantly rich. I’m not going to start bathing in it, though.