Best Goddamn Restaurant
It doesn’t matter if you are new to Indian cuisine or a seasoned consumer of curries, this place welcomes you with its warm embrace of Indian teak coffered ceilings, antique bronze and vermillion hued artwork on the walls. While we’ve shared our love of their tandoori meats, old-timers know that it is the hariyali salmon that is the dark horse. And if you haven’t yet experienced the joy of a biryani, render that to the past stat — marinated meat and rice are layered in a deceptive dance of warm spices, caramelised onions, scented with saffron; the whole assemblage is cooked together over very low heat, so the meat and rice, despite their varied cooking times are done to perfection. This is a restaurant where there is more to discover with each visit, and the exemplary service ensures you keep going back.
It’s no surprise that the best goddamn restaurants in town would be the stalwarts of Reykjavík. With views overlooking the bustling old harbour and Harpa in the distance, La Primavera is a sly old creature that is delightful at lunch with its nonna-esque take on a menu that is a banker-politician-lunch date favourite, to the crisp tablecloth affair of dinner service. No matter what time of day or year you dine here, you’re sure to have peak season ingredients, handled with the devotion of someone who deeply understands that good produce needs so little. So whether it’s rare legumes like roveja from northern Italy, is-it-a-rose or salad conundrum of pink radicchio or the many pasta dishes (perhaps with a slow cooked ragu here, or a spunky seafood version there), Primavera’s food is only matched by its service. You don’t need to look hard, the front of house has been here since the beginning, and if you visit often enough, they remember your preferred table and drink, making this place feel like home away from home.
Hlemmur Mathöll, Laugavegur 107
With a revamped menu and a drinks programme to match, Skál continues to be the small place with a big heart; its food hall location is no deterrence for their die-hard patrons. This year we’ve enjoyed their ice-cold scallops, served sliced, in their shell. Sometimes, thin slices of rutabaga are tucked between them, others there is crimson granita of tart berries. Always refreshing. Then there are the fried shrimp heads with a punchy aioli. The steadfast beets, and butter bathed trout. A crisp glass of mineral natural wine alongside and you’ve got yourself a banger of a meal each and every time.
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