Published May 6, 2015
- What we think
- While not world class, it is the best all-around gastropub in Reykjavík at the moment in terms of price, service, food, and drinks
- UK/USA fare with a Nordic veneer
- For after-work-drinks and pregaming
- Price for 2
- 6,000-8,000 ISK
Frederiksen is a little bit of everything: brunch spot in the morning, a coffeehouse during the day, a gastropub in the evenings and live music on the weekends.
The space was formerly haunted by dive rock bar Amsterdam, with its shady secret room in the basement, biker types, trashed hipsters, slot machines, and persistent rumours of money laundering. The kind of place you’d go after saying goodbye to your dignity, packing it a lunch, and buying it a one-way plane ticket to Blackoutistan.
That said, Amsterdam always offered a solid live venue for up-and-coming rock bands and I’m glad to see Frederiksen intend to continue the tradition, judging by their little concert nook. Let’s hope they follow through on that promise.
Frederiksen is a Danish name but the Danish influence isn’t too overwhelming. Which is fortunate as I feel we’re at capacity with Mikkeller & Friends and Den Danske Kro.
The gilded frames on a teal background do feel vaguely Danish, as does the wood panelling behind the bar, but both elements are offset by a huge old-timey illustrated map of Iceland behind the stage (*bites knuckles and whispers the national anthem*).
What Frederiksen is, is a reasonably hip gastropub that doesn’t dip elbow-deep into endlessly popular Americana. They even managed to resist gutting the place to the rafters and pasting a pig on the logo.
On the topic of reasonableness—I was stuck by refreshingly affordable menu prices. This may be a ploy to wrangle in the first batch of regulars but I ain’t complaining.
Overall the Frederiksen cocktails are on the sweet side but far better than I had expected from a self-proclaimed ale house. Stand-outs were the “Jan Frederiksen,” some swing at the cuba libre with a hint of bitters, and the “Ale House Caipriniah.” Their Caipriniah substitutes cachaça with Brennivín, which is a trick veteran boozehounds will recognize as one of the best ways to mask the Brennivín flavour for the uninitiated (a grapefruit will also do the job).
Frederiksen claims to have one of the largest selections of draft beer in Iceland, but as far as I could see, it seemed on par with what’s on offer at Bunk Bar. Skúli Craft Bar, Microbar, and American Bar have it beat in that department. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to check out their bottle selection.
Having said that, beer featured heavily in all of the courses, in fact it seems that if there was any semi-rational way to justify dousing the meal with beer, they’d had a go.
We ordered the Beer Platter (3,690 ISK), which came overflowing with a sampling of their bar snacks. It featured a pair of great sliders with toasted black sesame bread and a deep umami flavour, napalm-crispy pale ale tempura chicken wings with a coating of a no-frills BBQ-sauce, babyback ribs, and fantastic steamed buns with pulled pork. Not only were the buns great but, to the best of my knowledge, K-Bar has been the only place with steamed buns as a fixed menu item until now. You can’t have too many of those sweet-and-savoury pillows of joy.
The beer platter had been surprisingly filling so we settled on splitting a Frederiksen burger (2,290 ISK). It came wedged between dark porter bread and accompanied by Scandinavian sweet pickles, red onions and a pile of sweet potato fries. Not the absolute best I’ve had in Reykjavík, but top three for sure.
Finally, don’t forget to check out their basement area like I did. It looked really nice in their Facebook banner photo.