Humarhöfnin (Höfn, Iceland)

After leaving Fjalladýrð, we spent the bulk of the next two days exploring the Eastern Fjords, working our way down to Höfn in the Southeast. Höfn is famous in Iceland for it’s Langoustines (Norway Lobsters), so when we were looking for dinner, we found that most every place in town had fresh langoustines, grilled with butter, parsley and garlic. After looking around and sizing up some of the options, we decided to go to one of the best-regarded places, Humarhöfnin.

Humarhöfnin has a nice location in downtown Höfn, a block off of the harbor in an older building that apparently used to be a consumer cooperative/department store. It’s a nice restaurant space with a pleasant vintage interior (including a rather cool Art-Deco inspired staircase that’s obviously been there since the 1920s or so), with large upstairs and downstairs dining rooms.

Despite not having reservations and the place being busy, they were able to seat us right away downstairs (thankfully, as we watched an entire busload of tourists—the same tourbus we encountered back in Myvatn, actually—go upstairs), and relax with a beer (Borg Bjartur Blond Bjór Nr. 4, a Dortmunder-style Blond beer from Ölgerðin Egill Skallagrímsson) as we looked over the menu.

The menu at Humarhöfnin is pretty straightforward: they are trying to make the most of local ingredients. Their langoustine comes straight from boats in the harbor. Their lamb comes from a local farm, as does the duck. The menu doesn’t have a lot of depth: a few appetizers (including a langoustine bisque), a few seafood dishes (mostly langoustine, of course), and a few lamb dishes. But it was obvious from the dozens of diners around us that the thing to get here was the langoustines, it was only a matter of deciding on whole langoustine or tails. We eventually both opted on the latter, as well as starting out with a smoked duck appetizer.

The smoked duck was a great way to start out. This was a nice salad, with several thick, moist slabs of duck meat that were just oozing with a rich smoke flavor. Interestingly, having had smoked lamb and duck earlier in the trip, this was the first time I remember really asking myself what they smoke meat with in Iceland—it’s not like there are vast hickory forests to draw on. A little research showed that birch, alder, willow, and peat were the most common, and that’s probably what gives Icelandic smoked meats their nice flavor. In any case, the combination of some good duck with some nice smoke made this a great appetizer.

For the main course, we both got the langoustine tails. And these were every bit as good as I was hoping: a nice, generous pile of perfectly-cooked and tender langoustine tails, served up with both a garlickly sauce, and “black magic” (spicy) sauce, this was one of those dishes where I enjoyed the labor of extracting the meat from each tail, dredging it in the sauce, and eating, while mopping up some of the extra sauce with some bread on the side. Höfn has a reputation as the “Lobster capital of the north”, and I’ll have to say that with these langoustines, I can see why.

Overall, we loved Humarhöfnin. It was a little expensive, but the environment was pleasant, the service good, and the food impeccable. I’d love to have a chance to come back here again, have another dinner, and another fine evening stroll along the water looking at the sun set over the distant glaciers.

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