A Grapevine service announcement BREAKING NEWS! Small Eruption Reported Northeast Of Bárðarbunga
Culture
Food
“For the best burger west of Vatnajökull…”

“For the best burger west of Vatnajökull…”

Words by

Published February 4, 2011

Since its television debut, Hamborgarafabrikkan has been all the rage in Reykjavík. With interminable waiting lists and queues out the door, I have been expecting a punch line from an outdated Seinfeld rerun, and the hype to simmer down to a reasonable wait. Instead, this burger craze continues into yet another season. A burger joint is not the place for one to make a reservation, not now, not ever, regardless if Ferran Adria himself is flipping burgers. Simple principle, full stop.
Almost a year on, they must be doing something right. Curiosity piqued and expectations high, I gave the table wait another go. Greeted by loud dance music, I thought I was in the wrong queue. This was early Thursday evening, and we are told it would be a 45-minute wait for a table for two. Hoping this was an exaggeration, I thought we would wait ten minutes, otherwise leave. No burger is worth waiting longer than ten minutes for, is it?
The waiting area spills into the lobby of that carbuncle of a building that scars the Reykjavík skyline at Borgartún. This is your chance to experience Icelandic architecture at its worst. We wait in the company of a nursery of toddlers floundering about for lack of colouring books, parental guidance, or batteries for their portable game systems. The acoustics of the unfinished open concrete lobby are amplified, and after 15 minutes, I am ready for a sedative. Was it the lack of a proper waiting lounge that brought out my impatience? The stiff office lobby furniture felt like a long wait for a boring job interview or legal deposition, not a dinner.
The dance beat carries on, and I loosen another button on my collar. My anxiety oscillates between hunger, and the thought of this empty tower being as structurally sound as the apartment blocks on Skúlagata, the ones with the tiles constantly blowing off. I am far enough away to only hear the kick of the bass drum, imagining the tiles loosening with each beat, but I am close enough to smell the burgers. Perhaps I should have brought a book, ‘In Search of Lost Time’.
I enjoy a good burger, but I also value 45 minutes. And I already know that hands down, nothing can beat the reindeer burger at Hamborgarabúllan in Egilsstaðir. How close to Egilsstaðir would I be had I decided to drive there instead? Plus, my neighbourhood bodega already makes the best burger west of Vatnajökull, and it would be digested by now. So what is all of this buzz about? My name is called.
The place has the look and gimmick-laden feel of an American chain restaurant, except the staff is not wearing goofy hats or constantly bothering you. The ‘Eyes Wide Shut’ lighting on the ceiling is a nice touch, but not when reflected off the golden mirrored tabletops. Is anyone this vain to want to look at themselves while eating? I was afraid that if I ordered a Coke, the waiter would rail up some lines on our mirrored table, as it was fitting to the music.
I stuck to a water, and the simplest of burgers, the ‘Morthens’. All of the other burgers are complicated melodies of toppings that seem like they are either arranged to disguise a mediocre burger, or frustrate the chef with endless customizations. There should just be an option to design your own burger, like a pizza pie, right? I choose the self described, most honest and straightforward of all of the burgers, named after legendary pop star Bubbi Morthens. With 39 solo records credited to his name, one might expect as many toppings, but this burger seemed the most basic of the bunch.
It arrives, looking like a Whitecastle in Chernobyl, novelly square in shape, but twenty times the size. I double fist it, an overdue anticipation draws it towards my salivating mouth, and juices run down my arms before I can even tear the flesh, close my mouth, and fully swallow. Steamy. Charred to perfection. Well worth every second of the wait. I retreat into a gluttonous ecstasy where time slows and all sounds disappear like a winter’s night. My date mouths something inaudible. I am oblivious to all surroundings. The sensory deprivation is short lived, derailed by a bingo call announcing yet another birthday. I knew this sensation would not last forever.
This is a great place for an awkward date where conversation is un-obligatory or your romance has not quite reached that intimate level of talking yet. The table doubles as a mirror to check for gristle in your teeth, sauce on the beard, or smudged lipstick. For a good honest burger in an equally humble setting, I will stick to my neighbourhood bodega. For the best burger west of Vatnajökull, I know where to return. And like the savvy traveller, I will come prepared for delays, armed with good headphones to cancel the cacophony of noise, perhaps a good book, and an inflatable neck pillow for the wait.
Rating: 3.5/5
Address: Höfðatún 2, 105 Reykjavík
http://www.fabrikkan.is/



Culture
Food
<?php the_title(); ?>

New Nordic Cuisine Is Dead

by

My lifelong hatred of dill makes me a terrible champion of New Nordic cuisine. At age seven I swore to my mom I would try my best to eradicate the herb—and now I find myself in a restaurant named after that noxious weed. My skin may be the colour of cauliflower soup, but my taste buds are bulgur brown. It hasn’t helped that the Icelandic food scene has mostly embraced the parts of New Nordic cuisine that suited our aims (reaffirming patriotism and separating tourists from their money) but left out the tricky bits, like carefully sourcing and foraging your

Culture
Food
<?php the_title(); ?>

The Icelandic Restaurant Name Listicle

by

Before you can name your child in Iceland, you have to run the name by the highly conservative Icelandic Naming Committee. But that’s where the micromanaging stops. You can name your farm Saurbær (“Shitville”), name your horse Hátíð (“Festival”), and name your streets Barmahlíð (“Bosom Hill”) or Völundarhús (“Labyrinth”). Bar and restaurant names are no exception. Here’s an easy-to-digest overview of some of the best and worst of Icelandic restaurant names, inspired by a Buzzfeed listicle we read called “Top 5 Reasons For Top 5 Lists.” Top 5 Questionable Bar/Restaurant Names 5. Harlem It’s closed now, and it was good

Culture
Food
<?php the_title(); ?>

Virus In Imported Meat Might Alter Nation’s Behavior, Warns PM

by

According to Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, a virus that may change people’s behavioral patterns is common among most of the world’s populations, except Iceland, Norway, and, ‘remarkably’, the UK. Sigmundur Davíð admits that this does indeed sound like science fiction, adding ‘but …’, seemingly to imply that reality may prove stranger than fiction. He indicated that this should be kept in mind when shaping agricultural policy, emphasizing as ‘extremely important’ that ‘we remain free of all sorts of infections which are, unfortunately, all to common in very many places’. ‘Might Be Changing The Behavior Of Whole Nations’ ‘Because this

Culture
Food
<?php the_title(); ?>

Grilled Meat In The Summer Rain

by

Kol was somewhat of a puzzle to me: a restaurant that opened its doors early this year to some acclaim, but hasn’t yet reached its full commercial potential—or so I thought. My companion and I graced Kol with our presence on a busy Friday evening. Every seat was filled with people who seemed ready to put the endless summer rain out of their minds by consuming grilled food… and cocktails. Lots of cocktails. Kol is brilliantly situated near the top of Skólavörðustígur, a short distance from Hallgrímskirkja church. The place is designed pretty much like every other new eating establishment

Culture
Food
<?php the_title(); ?>

Great Grandma’s Recipe, With a Kick

by

Sceptics of Jungian psychology take note: the collective unconscious is most certainly A Thing here in Iceland. How’s that, you wonder? There are lots of good examples, such as the quickly passé, but briefly passionate fad for Tex-Mex-themed confirmation parties. But more to the point, consider the emergence of Reykjavík’s food truck culture. Less than six months ago, it didn’t really exist in Iceland. And then, practically overnight, a handful of carts suddenly blossomed around town, with two of them selling kjötsúpa, or Icelandic meat soup, as their premier item. Having opened in May (slightly beforeits kjötsúpa-serving cousinSúpuvagninn), Farmer’s Soup

Culture
Food
<?php the_title(); ?>

ATTN! Brennivín Models Wanted!

by

Iceland’s signature spirit needs you! They’re looking for six models, aspiring models, or people who just like to have their picture taken, ages 18-35, for a photo shoot at a downtown Reykjavik bar, this coming Monday July 7. In return, you will get a Brennivín t-shirt, lunch and a beer….and you’ll be featured on the Brennivin.com website. You can send a pic and a little about yourself to: info@brennivinamerica.com    

Show Me More!