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I always try and find one really unique restaurant whenever I travel overseas. When I stumbled upon Friðheimar, Iceland’s only greenhouse restaurant that has a menu completely based around tomatoes, I knew instantly that I had to eat there. Dining in a greenhouse surrounded by tomato plants sounded incredible, so without any hesitation, I booked my reservation for my arrival date.
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Located approximately forty-five minutes East of Reykjavík along the Golden Circle route near Reykolt, sits the charming Friðheimar farm and restaurant. Friðheimar is a unlike any other restaurant I’ve ever been to, or any dining experience that I’ve ever had. While walking around the large farm grounds, you’ll truly gain a level of respect for owners, Knútur and Helena and their entire team’s dedication to their craft. Another interesting fact about Friðheimar is that they have been breeding show stallions and horses since 1995 and hold shows on the property, which you can watch when they are being held in their outdoor arena. Icelandic horses are known around the world for its five gaits – Walk, trot, gallop, tölt and flying pace. Visits to the stable are available throughout the year. Friðheimar now owns a total of about forty horses.
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Friðheimar grows four varieties of tomatoes and cucumbers all year round, despite Iceland’s long and dark winters, under artificial lighting in massive sub-tropical tempered greenhouses. A whopping 18% of Iceland’s tomatoes are actually grown within Friðheimar’s greenhouses. Their yearly yield is approximately 370 tonnes of tomatoes, that equates to roughly a tonne each day!
At Friðheimar, the guests dine within the greenhouse, among the plants and among the 600+ busy, buzzing bumblebees that float graciously from plant to plant to pollinate, all while giving people the privacy to enjoy the ultimate dining experience. Owners Knútur and Helena, have been shaping Iceland’s tomato industry ever since opening Friðheimar using geothermal growing methods that are environmentally friendly by using the purest water and biological pest control methods. They are actually the first people in Iceland to cultivate plum tomatoes and Flavorino cocktail tomatoes in Iceland on a year-round basis. Recently, Knútur and Helena have introduced the Piccolo tomato to Icelanders and its visitors. Cucumbers have also been cultivated at Friðheimar since 2011.
Without a doubt, the tomato is definitely the shining star on the menu at Friðheimar and takes the term from farm to table quite literally. The menu is based around all things tomato; soup, pasta, drinks and even desserts…yes, desserts! Chef Jón K.B. Sigfússon showcases his creations simply and beautifully, while highlighting the tomatoes perfectly in every dish. He has also gone on to design and develop all the tasty food products located on Friðheimar’s online shop called, The Little Tomato Shop. You can also stop by the in house store on your way out to pick up a great little edible souvenir.
Friðheimar is definitely a place that heightens every one of your five senses. As soon as I entered the doors of the greenhouse, I could feel the hot and humid air swirling around me. The sweet smell of tomato soup filled the air and made my mouth begin to water. The sight of rows upon rows of tomato plants seemed to go on forever within the massive greenhouse. The sound of the buzzing bumblebees peacefully floating around the plants filled your ears as you got closer to the plants. The taste of the food was obviously the most anticipated part of the visit, so I grabbed the menu once we were shown to our table and started to scan the delicious choices.
I opted to get a bowl of their famous tomato soup to start, which was served in a serve yourself buffet style in large black pots on a side table that was filled to the brim with gorgeous homemade breads. The best part of ordering the soup is that it is all you can eat. After pouring myself a bowl and snagging some warm, fresh bread, I beelined (pun intended) back to our table and dove right in. There is also a fresh basil plant on the table complete with scissors, so you are able to add fresh cut basil to your soup if you’d like. It’s also served with a side of fresh sour cream and an amazing cucumber relish. This soup was honestly the freshest and sweetest tomato soup I have ever tasted and the basil and sour cream gave it a savory kick that made it so unique and so perfect. Oh, and the bread…let’s not forget about the bread. After slathering on the creamiest butter I’ve ever seen and taking a bite, I swear to you guys, I had a life changing culinary moment. Something so simple, such as soup and bread was the highlight of all the food I ate while on my trip. After plowing through two bowls of soup and about four pieces of bread, it was time to get our main dishes. I ordered the tomato tortilla which resembled a quesadilla, which was crunchy on the outside and soft and gooey on the inside from the fresh thinly sliced tomato and tasty mozzarella cheese. To wash it down, I decided to get the Bloody Mary, or Caesar to us Canadians, which is the ONLY way I’ll drink Vodka. The Bloody Mary was tasty, but it wasn’t something I’d get again. I think it had TOO much Vodka in it, which kind of killed it for me. If I did order it again, I’d probably ask for half the amount Vodka, since it did have a good taste overall. I did still drink it (slowly) because not doing so would be a waste of money to be honest. I think I’ll stick to beer next time. I would’ve loved to get one of the delicious desserts, especially the cheesecake with the tomato jam, but sadly, I was SO full and couldn’t eat another bite. I blame the copious amounts of bread that I consumed beforehand.
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If you’re travelling to Iceland and are looking for a quirky, unique and delicious meal at a restaurant that is environmentally friendly, Friðheimar definitely delivers an amazing dining experience unlike any other. Friðheimar is opened daily from 12:00 to 16:00 (12pm to 4pm) all year-round with the exception of holidays. It does tend to get busy, so dining and guided greenhouse tour reservations are recommended. You can make reservations at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Would dining in a greenhouse be of interest to you? What’s the most unique dining experience that you’ve had? Let me know in the comments below! xo
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