A Look at the New Restaurant Helmed by Gunnar Karl Gíslason

17 Mar 2022
4 min read

The Reykjavik EDITION, the first Icelandic outpost of the revered EDITION hotel group, has recently opened its doors, and with it, brings a new and exciting culinary destination to Iceland’s capital, including a fine-dining restaurant by acclaimed chef Gunnar Karl Gíslason.

Situated in the scenic heart of downtown Reykjavik, the 253-key Reykjavik EDITION brings the first 5-star modern luxury experience to one of the world’s most sustainable capitals. Now open in its preview phase, the hotel is poised to be one of the city’s most exciting venues, with an abundance on offer for guests. Not only is it located just steps away from Laugavegur Street, the city’s vibrant shopping district, it’s also within driving distance to the world-renowned Blue Lagoon. The Northern Lights can also be viewed in town during the winter solstice, straight from your sumptuous and sophisticated hotel suite if you like. The Reykjavik harbour, Mt. Esja and the legendary Snæfellsjökull glacier can also be viewed from the comfort of your hotel room.

During the day, panoramic views of the waterfront and the city can be seen from the hotel’s alfresco dining spots, all while guests enjoy a taste of some of Iceland’s best culinary offerings. Boasting a variety of distinctive food, beverage and entertainment outlets, the hotel will match the city’s fun-loving reputation with lively spaces to eat, socialise, work and relax.

The spectacular line-up of restaurant and bar outlets include the expansive Lobby Bar, speciality restaurant and café Tides, an exceptional cocktail bar Tölt, a nightclub, as well as a rooftop bar set to open in 2022. Home to outlets for multiple occasions, all under one roof, this is a unique attribute of The Reykjavik EDITION that has not yet been seen in Iceland.

Gunnar Karl Gíslason — the celebrated chef behind Dill, Reykjavik’s acclaimed New Nordic Michelin-starred restaurant, is at the helm of Tides, The Reykjavik EDITION’s signature restaurant.

“I am so excited to be a part of this new hotel opening that has been so highly anticipated in the city,” says Gunnar Karl Gíslason. “I truly hope that this marks a turning point for Reykjavik’s culinary journey, and I am excited for Iceland’s modern cuisine to be showcased on the global stage.”

At Tides, Gíslason serves modern Icelandic cuisine, with subtle hints of traditional cooking methods, focused on seasonal local products and the highest quality of global ingredients mainly cooked over an open fire. Following on his philosophy at Dill, where he presented cuisine inspired by his local terroir, Tides will, too, offer the very best fare created using the country’s finest natural ingredients.

For Gíslason, his culinary outlook has always been to respect all the raw materials that come into the kitchen. No matter how big or small, everything is used and treated with the attention it deserves — teachings he learned from working at Saison in Denmark under Head Chef Erwin Lauterbach, who was passionate about and dedicated to using only the very best natural ingredients.

Although Iceland is a small country with a cold climate and long, dark winters, this doesn’t deter the chef from highlighting everything the land has to offer, accentuating it with global ingredients where appropriate. Some of the dishes guests can look forward to at Tides include: Grilled Dover Sole, Broccoli & Lovage; Baked Cod, Grilled Potatoes, Mixed Herbs and Brown Butter; Corn-fed Black Angus Chuckflap with GK BBQ Glaze, Mashed Potatoes, Grilled Portobello and Herb Salad and Braised and Slowly Grilled Lamb Shoulder, Pickled Onions, Mint and Apples.

The lamb shoulder dish showcases one of the country’s most-cherished natural ingredients: Icelandic lamb. This is an iconic product that the nation’s best chefs relish for its superior taste and quality, and Gíslason takes heed of this at Tides.

In Iceland, all the lamb and sheep farms are small family-owned businesses, where each farmer takes a personal approach to animal welfare. A watchful eye is kept on every lamb during its natural lifecycle, from the moment it’s born in spring and while it roams free until autumn. By wandering free, always on the hunt for newly sprouted grass, the freshest herbs and the purest Icelandic spring water, the Icelandic lambs work their way from the lowlands to the highlands, where they are then brought down by farmers in the autumn. This entirely organic rearing process means the lambs are free-range and free from growth-promoting antibiotics, growth hormones, and are non-GMO.

Feeding on Iceland’s natural environment endows the native lambs with an instantly recognisable delicious and distinctive game-like flavour. And it’s for this reason that Icelandic lamb is the first Icelandic agricultural product in history to be protected by the Icelandic Geographical Indications Quality Scheme. It is also in the process of being registered as a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) product.

Using this Icelandic lamb, along with similar local products, is the perfect example of Tide’s commitment to utilising only the freshest and most sustainable produce from local suppliers, presenting the best the land surrounding the hotel can supply. And with produce that’s this excellent, it’s easy for Gíslason to find inspiration for the creation of his dishes.

“I always try to create a dish in as few steps as possible,” says the chef. “I want what’s on the plate to shine, not to spend months in a lab, weeks in preparations or hours of plating. In most cases, dish creation starts with a single raw material, and then we build on it from there. That raw material, more often than not, would be a vegetable or even a wild herb, tree or sometimes a definitive flavour that I´m looking  to somehow complete the menu depending on the season.”

“We truly want to make sure everything that comes in our doors gets used. So, the whole setup is with that in mind. For example, when we receive a whole fish, you might get two to three servings from that same fish, serving everything until the whole fish has been used. Same goes for meat and so on. My favourite dishes, or should we say the ones that make me happiest, are those that make me truly feel like we have accomplished exactly that – no wastage,” continues the chef.

This explains why much of the menu at Tides focuses on seafood, as well as grilled meat and vegetable dishes where most of the ingredients are traditionally cooked over an open fire. There’s no doubt that Gunnar Karl Gíslason ensures that a modern Icelandic cuisine and culture runs through everything he creates in the kitchen, which is then further heightened when paired with vintages from Tides’ impressive global wine list. To complement these stellar culinary offerings, the restaurant boasts rich and sophisticated interiors and comes complete with its own waterfront entrance and a private terrace overlooking the harbour.

There is also a chef’s table within the restaurant, The Counter at Tides, which is the idyllic place for those looking for an extraordinary gastronomic experience. Available three nights a week, guests have the opportunity to overlook the theatrical open kitchen, which serves an eight-course tasting menu with wine pairings for up to 10 people.

Find out more about The Reykjavik EDITION via the website. To book at Tides, click here or email tides.rek@editionhotels.com. To discover more about Icelandic lamb, visit the website.