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My first day in the Faroe Islands was packed:
- Got to airport in Vagar at 11am
- Checkin at Havgrim Hotel shortly after 12pm
- New Norse-inspired tattoo at 4pm
- And by 6pm, off to Koks for dinner at 6:30pm!
This was also the Summer Solstice in the Land of the Midnight Sun. I didn’t know what to expect from Koks. That I’d be there 4+ hours. And that it wouldn’t just be a (very decadent) meal – but truly the experience of a lifetime.
Here’s my experience (the only word to describe it!) at Koks, complete with #foodporn pics of the 20+ courses served that night.
In This Post
My Koks restaurant review
When I walked through the door of Koks on June 22nd, 2018, they were still surfing the high of a stellar write-up in The New Yorker a few days before. This is the only restaurant in the Faroes to have a Michelin star.
But let’s back up. Koks recommends you arrive by taxi. When they drop you off, it’s in front of a tiny hut the Faroese use as an outdoor fridge with an expansive bay in the background.
We stepped into the hut. A young lady explained the use and importance of the hut to the Faroese. Then served dried cod, whale, a craft beer from a local brewery, and homemade kombucha.
After the starter, I think we were all kinda wondering what would happen next. No sooner did the thought spark than we were told to get into a Jeep 4X4. We plowed down a narrow dirt road riddled with potholes and drove further into the mountain valley.
Finally, the car stopped in front a long black house with a turf roof. We were at Koks.
The entire staff, including chef, cooks, and servers, were standing outside to greet us. We were the first seating of the evening.
The host showed us to our table in the corner.
They gave us a little booklet:
The tasting menu was 1,400 Danish kronur (~$219) per person. And you could add wine pairings for 1,000 more (~$172). Or a juice pairing for 500 (~$78).
Both my friend and I got the tasting menu with wine pairings (~$391).
We figured we’d come all that way – why not go for the full experience?
And then the experience really began.
A server showed us the food they’d sourced for us. They only order as many items as there are diners in an evening. The seafood is caught that same day and delivered straight from the fisherman’s boat to the restaurant.
The lobster was still moving on the plate. To call this farm-to-table is almost insulting. The divide from “farm” (or sea) to table is narrow as you can possibly get.
The first course was a beautiful and perfect scallop. Each course is served on its own custom dish.
They also started the wine pairings. Most of the wines were Spanish and from 2016, with many exceptions (see menu above).
Next up was a piece of lumpfish, followed by mahogany clam. These clams can live for over 500 years (!). And they told me my clam was somewhere around 265 years old, which is incredible.
Then, we got grilled pine-grilled langoustine. You’re meant to crack it open, eat the meat, then suck out the brains through the head. The meat was delicate and perfectly grilled.
It was paired with a Japanese sake from 1999. It’s probably the best sake I’ve tasted in my life. I savored it – this was my favorite pairing of the entire evening.
The Faroese love their fermented meats. The lamb was strong and had an almost cheese-like quality, like a Roquefort or some other super strong flavor. It was salty and bitter.
To enhance the taste, we wrapped the lamb around a piece of sea urchin with a dab of tapenade. It was crunchy and savory and balanced the strong taste of the fermented lamb.
After the strong-tasting Faroese foods, we got savory biscuits and aioli sprinkled with dried cod flakes to cleanse and reset.
This part of the evening was primarily for wild-caught fish from Faroese waters. We started with a small piece of halibut between two pieces of watercress, which we ate like a tiny sandwich (for lack of a better comparison).
Following this, shredded crab meat with leeks and potato foam – the server poured the foam on the plate after it was served.
It was also time for another white wine pairing.
With each dish, the server explained its origin, meaning to the Faroese people, and where the food came from. Same for the wines – they knew everything about the vineyards, grapes, year it was made…
By this time, we were to the core of the meal. There were small sandwiches made from dried cod skin and light as air, cod cheeks and chin, and a salad with local herbs.
After the fish, they brought out some garden herbs as a palate refresher before desserts. First up was celeriac leaves, followed by… grass.
At this point I texted, “They just served us pureed GRASS.”
It was paired with sorrel, a tangy, almost bitter-tasting herb. They actually tasted fantastic together. The shot of bitterness set us up to plunge into the sweetness of desserts.
And of course, more wine pairings. 😉
They were extremely generous with the wine pours and I’m operating off memory here. So forgive me if it’s patchy. I hoped the pictures would jog my memory. But in the moment, I wanted to linger in the tastes. And I think I’m piecing it together… mostly.
The pairings were intelligent – you could tell they really thought about it. The change from white to sake to red to dessert wine (a port and a sherry) were perfect with the food. And like a wine should, they enhanced the flavors so so much. If you can spring for the wine pairing, definitely go for it. We ended up with a mini forest of wine glasses on the table. 🍷😵
They didn’t skimp at the end, either. To start, we had a thyme ice cream (really!) with wild crowberries and smoked cream. ZOMG one of the best desserts I’ve ever had.
To finish the meal, we had a sweet seaweed (dulse) with fermented blueberries and a chocolate crumble underneath. A perfect way to add a bit more savoriness back in and mellow the sweetness of the ice cream.
Afterward, with plates cleared, we were invited to sit in the lounge for coffee and sweets. I ordered another glass of the wonderful sake I’d had earlier in the evening – about 4 hours before!
Yes, the whole dinner really took that long. We paid as we had coffee, then spent a while digesting, talking about the exquisite food we ate, and how special the evening was.
This was beyond having a meal for dinner – this was a full-blown experience. And one of the best I’ve had.
It was almost performative. How the servers presented and explained each dish in deep detail added layers to the already nuanced flavors.
The setting – a remote valley 30 minutes from Torshavn in a small, short turf house (you have to stoop to get in and walk around) – made it even more special. Make no mistake, it’s a journey to get to the Faroe Islands. And it’s another journey to get to Koks.
Plus, you can only access the restaurant with a driver in a 4X4 off-road vehicle. The lengths you go to even get here make it that much more exclusive.
I also got the sense no expense was spared – the chef and cooks were maniacal in their pursuit for coaxing the natural tastes out of the pure ingredients. I got an image in my mind of a cook throwing out tons of gorgeous herbs to find the “right one” to go on the plate.
Finally, I’d never had a dinner-as-theater experience at a Michelin-starred restaurant before. But that it was deep in the already rural Faroe Islands added magic and mystery.
To say Koks is better than the sum of its parts doesn’t seem favorable enough. How each layer added and added… I think I’ll always light up when I think about the perfect dinner experience I had here. To call it a restaurant also doesn’t seem like the right word.
The unsung heroes
The chefs and cooks get most of the glory when a restaurant gets a Michelin star. But the staff and servers were impeccable. They’d come from all over the world – one server was from Hungary, our driver was from Greece – just to work here.
The servers were incredible! All those scripts, all that information. I don’t know how they do it. They must need to literally rehearse their speeches and memorize new ones each time there’s a menu change. Shoutout to the servers and staff that welcomed us and made us feel so cared for that evening.
Here are write-ups and reviews for Koks if you’re curious for more information.
- The Faroe Islands’ first Michelin-starred restaurant – The Guardian
- Koks, the World’s Most Remote Foodie Destination – The New Yorker
- The Faroe Islands, a new foodie destination – CBS News
- Is KOKS the best restaurant in the world? – Marginal Revolution
- Faroe Islands: Dinner at KOKS – The Weekend Traveller (amazing pics!)
- Link: Koks
Yay, I got through the whole post without saying “NOM!” Lol. But dining at Koks was one of the most delicious, special, and exclusive experiences I’ve ever had.
Also, “Koks” simply means “cooks” in Old Norse – although it’s pronounced like, well, how you think it is. Certainly don’t get tripped up on the name. Although I would’ve loved to call this article “Gay Man Dines at Koks, Unsurprisingly Loves It.” 😹
If you ever have the chance to dine here and want a truly special treat and experience, definitely go for it. They’re booked up a month to a year in advance, so it takes careful planning (or luck!) to snag a seat. And you might have to eat early like I did.
I was shocked how many fine dining experiences were available in the tiny town of Torshavn, with only 13,000 people. I also tried Raest, Barbara, and The Tarv – although none hold a candle to Koks. But were special in their own way.
In general, I loved how raw the nature is in the Faroes, and how cosmopolitan the experiences are. Here’s more about my visit.
I’ll be glowing thinking about this experience for a long time. Truly a special night of my life.* If you liked this post, consider signing up to receive free blog posts in an RSS reader and you’ll never miss an update! And thanks for using my links to apply for new card offers!
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