Saturday, August 17, 2019

Dining Experience at KOKS.

Shortly after I booked our reservation, KOKs received its second Michelin star!
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OKS is a restaurant that specializes in upscale Faroese cuisine. It is so well known among foodies that reservations for each night’s 26 seatings book out months in advance.  The Executive Chef is 29 year old Poul Andrias Zikas who is quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with in the culinary world.

I don't remember when I first heard about KOKS but once I read this review in New Yorker Magazine, I decided we had to go.  Never had I ever had Faroese food before and the thought of being able to dine at a Michelin star restaurant in a remote locate like the Faroe Islands was an experience that I simply could not say no to.

I knew it was going to be a splurge so I forwarded the article to Pat to get her reaction to going.  She was up for it so all I had to do was make the reservation.

The restaurant closes for several months out of the year and so it was not possible to make reservations until January 2, 2019 - the day after New Years. You have to book via their website and were not taking reservations until 11am Faroe Islands time.  That is 6am Eastern Standard Time so I literally set the alarm for a few minutes before six and was at my computer to submit our reservation request as close to 6am as I could.  I think I was the first person to make a booking. 😂 There was the option to either book seats at a communal table or a private table and I chose the former because I thought it might be fun to share in the dining experience with other people.

When I made our reservations on Jan 2nd when the restaurant only had one star, KOKS received its 2nd star two months later.  Here's the Michelin Guide review of KOKS.

Although we had a rental car with us and could've driven to the restaurant on our own, KOKS recommends that you take a taxi instead.  They have obviously made arrangements with a local taxi customer and even though it's an expensive ride, it's worth it.  I'm glad we took the taxi because as we were heading to the restaurant, the fog was thick as pea soup!

The taxi drops you off at a parking lot next to the restaurant's fermentating hut, which is situated on the shores of a small lake.  It's here that our unique dining experience began.

As soon as we stepped out of the taxi, we were greeted by one of the restaurant’s servers, Ari, who spent a few minutes explaining the dried fish hanging outside the shed.

Pat is looking a bit mortified by Ari’s description of the dried fish. 

Dried cod. Fresh fish is gutted and simply left out to dry for about 2 weeks.

Ari then led us inside the shed where we met 6 of our fellow diners and for a few minutes got to bond with each other over drinks and a snack. 

The shed aka Skerpi.That's the small lake behind it.

We had a choice of two beverages - locally brewed beer or kombucha. Pat opted for the beer. I had the kombucha.


Cheers! Best dining-in-a-shed experience ever!

Snack of dried cod crisps. I love fish chips so these were just up my taste alley!

After a while, Ari led us back outside to the parking lot where our ride, a vintage Land Rover, was ready to take us up to the restaurant.


Excited diners!

Enrique, one of the restaurant’s 9 chefs was our chauffeur. Originally from Mexico, he’s currently attending the CIA in Hyde Park, NY and is working at KOKS for a few months. Great experience for him.

It was a short ride from the fermenting hut up to the restaurant.  Join us in the Land Rover and learn more about KOKS and how it operates!

  The restaurant’s manager came to greet us as we pulled up outside.


Main part of the restaurant on the right, smokehouse is on the left.

Several of the kitchen and wait staff came out to greet us.  For 26 diners, KOKS has 9 kitchen staff and 7 servers. 

A very good looking foursome of chefs! The guy, standing second from the left, is the Sous Chef. The Executuve Chef was not working so he was the man in charge.

Proudly displaying their 2 Michelin stars.

Our server ushered us to our table and while I had booked us for a communal table, we actually got one just for two.  There was only one communal table and that was occupied by 4 people already so they gave us our own table.  No complaints!

KOKS may be a high end dining experience but most certainly, our surroundings were very rustic an minimal in design.  I felt comfortable the moment I stepped inside step in. 

There is no dress code for KOKS.  Neither Pat nor I brought along what you imagine people would wear to dine in a 2 star Michelin star restaurant but no need to worry.  You can just show up in your hiking clothes as we did and as several people around us also did.

Our table was already set for the 1st course.

Service began, as it usually does, with drinks.  Neither Pat nor I opted to go with the wine pairing so we just got plain water.  KOKS also offered up a juice pairing but I was happy to just cleanse my palate with straight water which if it comes from any lake around here, is good to drink.

Next our server brought to our table a selection of seafood and told us that we would be having everything on the plate.  It all looked so interesting and I could not wait to get started on the meal!  Everything that KOKS serves up is literally harvested or foraged for, daily, in the area around the restaurant.  This is seafood is as fresh as you can get!

Clams, mussels, scallops, sea urchin, and langoustines.

Our first dish was a scallop dish which was presented as you would see it if you plucked it from the water.

Open the scallop and voila! The scallop was so fresh, it was still attached to the shell so we had to use our knives to pry it off.

Next came a mahogany clam.  Single clam and inside, were two tiny pastries.  One was for me and the other for Pat.

Each pastry was probably no larger than the size of US quarter coin.  The pastry was colored and flavored with squid ink and each shell held a small bite of clam, along with some small greens and edible flowers.  How pretty is this?

Then came the sea urchin with pickled parsley stems. I died and went to heaven with this one bite!

Next was a small bite of halibut, served raw, and caviar. 

Back to bivalves.  This time, a horse mussel.  Such a beautiful shell.

Inside was a small bite of marinated mussel.  It was like eating ceviche but much cleaner on the palate.  Everything was so exquisitely presented.


The next course had us scratching our heads when it was first delivered to the table.  Two langoustine heads atop ice.  Two small spoons were our only utensils.

I love sucking on shrimp heads so once I saw the spoons, I knew exactly what to do.  Didn't either of us long to scoop out the delicious langoustine version of tomalley.

What good are heads if you can't enjoy the tail meat so that came next.  The sauce was spooned on tableside.  Makes for a nice presentation.


Another fish course.  This is mackeral served with charred leak.  I'm not a fan of mackeral, especially raw - it's a bit too "fishy" tasting for me, even when it's super fresh.  Nonetheless, I cleaned the plate!

Next to the last seafood course was bacalao with horse mussel. The bacalao sitting atop a small bite of the horse mussel all surrounded by a green sauce.  Don't remember what the sauce was.  Okay but not a memorable bite for me.

Last seafood course was cod three ways.  There was some of the crispy bladder that we had inside the shed except this serving had some aioli at the bottom to dip the crisp in.  There was fried cod skin sandwich encasing cod meat and fresh herbs.  And last, but not least, was a plate with julienned strips of raw cod served with root vegetables and whale blubber (those transparent strips).  Later, Enrique told me that this was the dish that he was responsible for putting together.  Takes a lot of skilled knife work to cut all those perfect strips and then assemble into a perfect circle to fit the bottom of the plate!


Our seafood tasting menu was complete.  Now it was time for the meat.  Ari came to our table with a dried leg of lamb. This is ræst, the traditional Faroese method of fermenting meat for preservation.  Basically, they just hang the meat out to dry and let the sea air do its thing. 

First meat course.  Slices of fermented lamb with mushroom cream and reindeer lichen. Yes, you read that correctly, lichen - the thing you find growing on tree limbs and rocks.  That lichen.  I never knew you could eat it.

We were instructed to dollop a bit of mushroom onto the lichen and then wrap the slice of lamb around it. Fermented lamb...definitely an acquired taste.


And the parade of fermented meat continued though the next dish was actually not meat but fat.  Cheese crackers and lamb tallow atop. Yeah. Fermented lamb fat. Interesting to try but not my cup of tea. Too lamb-y for me!

Stewed fermented lamb served with onion and lingonberries accompanied by a slice of unleavened bread.  Very pretty presentation with the lingonberries cradled inside onion layers.

I did polish off this bowl as stewed fermented lamb was okay palatable though I would have preferred fresh lamb stew.

This is not a tasting menu for unadventurous eaters! Whale heart atop sheep’s blood cracker.  One cracker for each of us.  I have to admit, I actually liked this bite!  I like offal so I think that's why this course was right up my taste alley.

Then the server brought to the table just about the prettiest knife that has ever been presented to me in a restaurant.  Knife means I am about to be served a dish that needs cutting into.  What could it be?

Terrine of sheep head and tail. So delicious I could’ve eaten more!  What a way to end the meat course!

Dessert next!  I was curious what Faroese call dessert.  We started with sheep cream mousse topped with sorrel granita.  The sorrel was planted on the restaurant's sod roof.  Really.  It was.

Current flower ice cream with buckwheat and crow berries.  I don't know what a current flower is but that ice cream was to die for! 

Last of the dessert dishes was rhubarb with Spanish chervil and sweet cream.  The sweet cream was poured tableside which gave us a few seconds to admire the presentation before the cream drowned out parts of it.  So pretty.  They must use a lot of tweezers back in the kitchen!

We ended our meal with two clean plates!  But it wasn't quite the end of our meal.

After dinner, the server led us to the “lounge” where we enjoyed more food and if you wanted it, an after dinner aperitif.  The lounge is a small room situated between the main dining area and the kitchen. It was fun just watching all the activity taking place.

Door to kitchen on the right.  That's Ari's back facing me.  Restaurant front door on left.

 

Some of the restaurant's house made fruit liqueurs are displayed in bottles on a shelf.  Guests are welcome to purchase a sip.

We relaxed and waited here for our taxi to arrive.  After we sat down, the server handed us a copy of the menu so we could remember all that we ate or in my case, match photos with a description 😁


In the lounge, we munched on cheese crackers and waffles with a selection of house made spreads.  Before leaving, we paid our bill and added a nice tip for the staff.

When the restaurant got word that our taxi had arrived, we were ushered back outside to our awaiting Land Rover.  Once again, Enrique was behind the wheel.  Although the clock read 10p, the sky was still light.  Days are very long here, even in late summer.  We waved everyone goodbye and got into the taxi for our short ride back to our Airbnb apartment.  Pat and I could not stop talking about the meal we just had!

Bye KOKS and thanks for a truly memorable, once in a life time experience!!