If you are a fan of world-class cuisine, you must know the name, Gunnar Karl GÃslason. The Icelandic-born is perhaps best known for bringing his home country its first Michelin star in 2017. It was at dill where his brand of neo-Nordic cuisine caught fire among discerning Reykjavik foodies and eventually global audiences. This renowned kitchen is still going strong, 13 years after it opened. But Chief Gunnar is now considering another ambitious project less than a mile away.
Restaurant of the tides is his latest concept, an ode to high-end hygge in the lobby of the stunning Reykjavik Edition. Less than three months after opening, the hotel has already transformed luxury lodging in a city that was surprisingly devoid of a concept. Spacious suites here are drenched in minimal affectation, lined with wood, and sandwiched between the harbor and the iconic Harpa Concert Hall (rooms start at $400 a night). And although the property has an array of F+B outposts â rooftop bar and club, speakeasy, a spa with its own beer on tap â all eyes are now on GÃslason as he offers modern Icelandic cuisine in an exciting new venue on the ground floor. .
From local foodies, the immediate response was effusive. But only time will tell if he can bring home more Michelin stars with the concept. Waiting for Forbes caught up with the busy chef to get an idea of ââwhat he’s up to at Tides and what’s in store for him in the future. Read the exclusive interview below.
Tell us about the concept at Tides. What are the defining elements of a dining experience here?
With Tides, I wanted to create a dining experience that was more accessible and casual, but with all the qualities you would get with a fine dining experience. Tides offers the same fine dining qualities, services, and ingredients, but I wanted it to feel real, intimate, and relaxed, so customers could better connect with the food while enjoying the design of the edition. We serve modern Icelandic cuisine, with subtle hints of traditional cooking methods, focusing on seasonal local produce and the highest quality of global ingredients, with an emphasis on open fire cooking.
This is your first concept inside a hotel. Tell us about how you worked with publishing to get this concept off the ground. What was the genesis of the collaboration?
Before Edition approached me, I had been to The New York Edition and Jason Atherton’s The clock tower and I could feel there was something very special about the way the Edition brand approached food and drink. I was impressed by the high caliber of the partner chefs they work with around the world. Edition’s approach to F&B as a whole is quite remarkable and I learned a lot from the brand. The concepts for The Reykjavik Edition all started when we sat down with a piece of paper and started writing ideas down with the brand team, incorporating their hopes and my dreams into the project, together we made incredible concepts, a destination restaurant (Tides), a cafe-bakery (Tides CafÃ©) and a [speakeasy] bar (Tolt).
How does the menu at Tides differ from what you do at Dill?
At Dill, we work a lot around ancient Icelandic traditions and ingredients, some from our grandmothers and some from Viking times, putting a modern twist on it and working it into a dish so it suits at a Michelin-starred restaurant. Dill offers a tasting menu, with 16 dishes. Tides has a more accessible form, emphasizing seasonal local produce and the highest quality of global ingredients. Although elevated, Tides is also laid back and there are spaces to enjoy a light bite or a glass of beer or wine.
What are the main differences between working with a hotel concept and working with an independent restaurant?
First, we need to consider the need for three meals/services per day in order to accommodate guests. When creating a hotel’s dining offering, you need to put yourself in the customer’s shoes, to consider what the traveler is looking for and needs. We have a menu large enough that someone staying multiple nights can always enjoy and experience something new. Operating within a hotel, we cater to the lifestyle – guests can grab a pastry and coffee at Tides CafÃ© on their way to a waterfall or have a leisurely breakfast at Tides; we have created something for everyone.
Tell us what âNew Nordicâ means to you?
New Nordic cuisine is a culinary movement that brings together the Nordic and Scandinavian countries under one manifesto in order to establish cuisine as Italian cuisine is identified and perceived on the world stage today. Today, it’s hard to explain because the term can be twisted and bent to your heart’s content – you can make a “New Nordic” pizza or burger. The idea is simply that it’s a way of trying to use the things around us; products and techniques, recipes, traditions. This is the most important element.
How often will the menu change at Tides?
The menu will change seasonally depending on when the produce is at its best. Our lunch menu changes more often because we have a smaller menu, so we use it to experiment with new dishes.
What are you most proud of in the new restaurant?
The design and space are amazing. The fact that we managed to open successfully during difficult times. But above all, I am proud of the hard work and dedication of the opening team.
What’s your favorite food and drink pairing at Tides right now?
It’s hard to choose, like asking someone to choose their favorite child. I had lunch at Tides today. Our roasted potato soup with fried rye bread and brown butter. I had it with a beer we created especially for Tides which is a super light and fresh IPA. The perfect combination on a cold winter day.
For you, what would be the ultimate form of praise/honor you would like to get here?
Hearing people talk and understanding the concept and showcasing dishes we’ve been working on for so long. When customer reviews reflect how I imagined the restaurant, they appreciate every element: the food, the drinks, the service, the atmosphere and the design. Of course, a Michelin star would always be a nice bonus!