A taste of Iceland, now in the LESPosted on September 10, 2013 | by Chandler West
Skal, a new Icelandic restaurant on the Lower East Side, aims to bring high-end Icelandic cuisine to a cozy neighborhood setting.
The space at 37 Canal St., on the corner of Ludlow Street, once housed French restaurant Les Enfants Terribles. The change of direction came about after three new partners bought out one of the two original co-owners. Ever since, the space has undergone an extensive renovation until reopening on Aug. 16.
Today, pale blue walls, mismatched plates, fresh flowers in mason jars and scattered candles come together to form an eclectic yet homey space.
Skal offers an array of affordable dishes heavily influenced by Icelandic cuisine. Guests are encouraged to order multiple dishes and pass them around the table.
“The food is meant to be shared,” manager Nicole Pelosi said. “Groups can order together so that everyone is able to try a little of each dish.”
While the menu only consists of 12 dishes, the kitchen pays heavy attention to detail. In particular, the heirloom carrots with burnt honey and sunflowers ($12) and duck wings with red seaweed and mussels ($14) are mouthwatering.
“My favorite thing I tried was broccoli with green garlic and anchovies ($11),” LSP sophomore Patricia Antonakos said after dinner.
“The portions are small, but if you’re sharing it’s not a problem,” Antonakos said. “You fill up by tasting everything on the table.”
Specialty cocktails like Hjalmar ($13), made with Gosling’s rum, peppermint syrup, lemon juice and soda, and Gurka, ($13) with Nolet’s gin, cucumber juice, lime juice and pepper are among the most popular.
Chef Ben Spiegel, who started in the restaurant business at the age of 15, has cooked in many high-end kitchens. With Skal, he aims to bring that kind of quality to a relaxed atmosphere.
“Iceland is a very small island and a very cold one with limited resources,” Spiegel said. “They use a lot of what’s available — lamb, fish, shellfish. Simple flavors. The cuisine is
really born of necessity, and for that reason much of it is fermented, smoked or dried.”
LSP sophomore Ann Schmidt enjoyed her dinner at Skal.
“The food has a unique taste, and it fits within my budget,” Schmidt said. “It’s the kind of place I’d even take my friends from home to give them an idea of the wide range of offerings you can find in New York.”