Review of KOKS Restaurant Faroe Islands
I often travel alone. Everyone should do it from time to time, whether for work or pleasure. This month I travelled alone to the Faroe Islands - in the name of work, of course, but really it was a pleasure. The highlight on this visit was a seat at KOKS restaurant - the tiny Michelin starred restaurant that’s receiving global acclaim. Intrigued, I snapped up a seat on a shared table.
Anyone who often travels alone may share my discomfort at certain dining room experiences: a table surrounded by couples or noisy groups, three courses in under 20 minutes flat, or too many sharing menus. After the excitement of booking a seat at KOKS, it dawned on me that I could have made a terrible mistake. A two starred dinner with no one to share it with and a restaurant full of diners buzzing with lively conversation or, worse, romantic hush, that I would be excluded from. Can I ask for a seat in the corner by a window? Should I bring a book to read? I couldn’t envisage how this would all pan out.
The evening finally arrived (how do you dress for this?!). Diners arrived in dribs and drabs to a tiny “antechamber” cabin next to Lake Leynavatn. Each guest arrival made the waiting guests shuffle round until the cabin was filled with eight guests. We then realised that we were the ‘Shared Table’ diners. There were three ‘couples’ and two single travellers. A relief that I wasn’t the only one audacious enough to book this for me, myself and I. We were served KOKS’ own label ale and cod crisps and received a short pamphlet on the Faroe Islands produce and its unique ecosystem.
We were then led to a Land Rover waiting outside (god I wish I hadn’t worn heels) where we climbed inside and were driven a short bumpy ride to KOKS restaurant proper. By this point, I knew I was going to have an enjoyable evening with some wonderful company. On arrival the kitchen staff were lined up outside the restaurant - a blackened turf-roofed cabin with a surreal mountainous backdrop.
Along with intrigue and Nordic theatre, smell is one of the magic ingredients of an evening at KOKS. A fire burned outside the restaurant filling our nostrils with smoke before we stepped inside the timber cabin which provided the warmth and the Nordic hygge we have all come to love and crave. Our shared table seated all eight of us - perfect distance for group conversation and yet personal space - these were after all strangers (and I am British). But these strangers were united in their appreciation of food and were about to embark on a six hour journey together. Some even said, had they brought their friends they should have enjoyed it less since these diners were here for the food and travelled from all corners to experience it (UK, USA, Netherlands, Australia and Norway). We chatted about food of course, but we also had glimpses of each other’s lives - interior design photographers, a NOMA trainee, a Montessori school teacher and a Californian start up employee, to name a few past and present occupations. At some point the next room filled with ‘private table diners’ - we were blissfully unaware - they came and went whilst our room hummed with conversation punctuated by silence brought on by a taste of roe or a sip of 1979 Chenin Blanc.
Our server was young and charming and exuded Faroese warmth - a dimpled smile and slightly crooked posture since his height was challenging in this low ceilinged abode. He led us elegantly and reassuringly through 20 courses of Faroese flavours and experiences, some which challenged even the most experienced of food lovers. The menu was heavily balanced to the sea, since as is pointed out - the “Faroes are 99% sea and just 540 square miles of land”. The wild Atlantic ocean is the provider of 10 out of 20 courses - its nutrient rich waters offering everything from clams, scallops and mussels to Halibut, whale and cod. The languoustine and fresh Faroese wasabi was a stand out dish for me, as our server grated down the wasabi and mixed it with cream to produce an instant and delicious creamy sauce. Fermentation (ræst in Faroese) is the next magical element of KOKS. The smell and the ambience created by fermentation is specific to these islands. When you learn more, you understand that KOKS belongs in the cabin, next to the mountains and lake. Where the sheep roam freely and the catch is delivered fresh from the water (I think I spotted the rowing boat whilst in the antechamber cabin). The fermentation process creates deepened flavours - likened to the Japanese Umami concept.
The meal ended with a plate of Faroese sweets - after 19 new tastes and experiences, the final course brought us to familiarity with waffles and hand made chocolates and the first good coffee in a while.
We arrived to KOKS in individual taxis, but departed in shared cars, symbolic of a new found friendship - even if for a short time.
If you’d like to experience the Faroe Islands first-hand, our team will be delighted to design an itinerary to bring you up close to many highlights and secrets - whether a self-drive holiday or private luxury journey. You’ll need to book early to visit KOKS, of course.