Italian, Iberian, Korean, Caribbean – there aren’t too many cuisines that haven’t already been explored in the cultural melting pot that is New York City. But, ever on the lookout for the next big thing, Gotham goes beyond the so-hot-right-now Nordic scene-stealers (Denmark, Sweden – we’re looking at you) and says halló to the as yet fairly uncharted gastronomy of Iceland, courtesy of quaint new LES diner SKÁL.
The glassy Canal Street space feels a long way from the city, instead channelling a far-flung coastal cottage vibe via lime-washed blue tables, cabin lanterns and jars of fresh flowers, an aesthetic that’s complemented by chef James Kim’s rustic but sophisticated menu. Thankfully sidestepping a few of the more colourful local delicacies (hmm, boiled sheeps head...), brunch and dinner plates offer an unusual blend of land and sea ingredients that come hay-smoked, brined and pickled to salty perfection. Start with smoky duck wings garnished with seaweed, crushed mussels and squid ink, then move onto heartier mains that highlight produce alongside meaty co-stars. There’s monkfish with charred cabbage and mashed cauliflower, slow-roasted lamb with sunchokes, and Angus hanger steak with butter-basted escarole and fingerling potatoes. For dessert, opt for the skyr with candied beetroot – an upscale reimagining of the creamy Icelandic yogurt – or round off with a zingy Rittenhouse rye cocktail with rhubarb and bitters. SKÁL! (By the way, that’s ‘cheers!’).
37 Canal St / + 1 212 777 7518 / noon-2am Sun-Wed, 5.30pm-4am Thu-Fri, noon-4am Sat / skalnyc.com